The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas
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The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (Austin Family #3)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  754 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Vicky Austin’s family does one special thing each day of December to prepare for Christmas. This year, they’re also preparing for the birth of a new brother or sister, due after the New Year. Vicky is worried that the baby will come early—what kind of Christmas Eve would it be without Mother to help them hang up stockings and sing everyone to sleep with carols? This classi...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published 1964)
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This book would land in the three-and-a-half to four-star range for me.
The power of this book is belied by its brevity. Madeleine L'Engle lovingly paints the life of the well-known Austin family as the days go by on the way to Christmas. Vicky Austin's imminent role as an angel in the church's Christmas pageant is the centerpiece to the story, as she tries her best to overcome the clumsiness that seems so natural to her. At the same time, the Austin's await the advent of their soon-to-be-born...more
Dec 07, 2010 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathryn by: Lisa Vegan
A cozy, heartwarming and thoughtful first story in the Austin family series by Madeline L'Engle centering around the family's preparations for Christmas. The focus is on middle child Vicky, who is the youngest ever to be chosen to play the Angel in the Christmas Pageant. She is so thrilled and practicing for the role helps her overcome her awkwardness and lack of self-confidence. And she is excited about the new baby on the way. But when she realizes that the baby might just come over Christmas...more
My favorite part of the story is the mother has the children do something special every single day to prepare for the twenty-fifth day. What a delightful idea. Mother is also expecting a baby right about Christmas time and so is the Christmas pageant at the church. A sweet story.
We've started a new tradition of reading Christmas books through December. I had never read this one before but it was lovely - religious without being evangelical, sweet without being overly sentimental It will definitely become part of our Advent tradition.
Okay, so I love Madeleine L'Engle. Growing up, A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite book, and I still own it plus the rest of that series. But,I can't see how any kid would actually like The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas. Even though it's such a quick read, and I thought the traditions were interesting, and I freaking love Christmas, I still almost didn't finish it. I mean, come on, it's 71 pages and I almost gave up? Yeah, obviously I really did not enjoy it.

I read it immediately after The Bes...more
This sweet little book is lovely. I read it in a few short minutes today and was both encouraged and inspired by it. When I read that the book was about a family's tradition of doing one special thing each day of December leading up to Christmas, I expected to read the book and think, "That sounds great, but I could never do that." Because when I think of creating a calendar of that sort, it sounds overwhelming. But the Austin family's approach to Christmas was not at all overwhelming.

7 year old...more
Nov 11, 2010 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a nice story to read at Christmastime. It is a good way to remember the true meaning of Christmas, beyond the commercial and materialistic shopping frenzy it has become. We liked the idea of celebrating the twenty-four days of December before Christmas in a special and unique way, kind of a living Advent. We haven't read many books by Madeleine L'Engle yet, but I will be sure to look for some at our local library. We'd like to read more of books in The Austin Family series. I discovered...more
It's hard to know how to rate things when you aren't the target audience. This is a small book for small children, but I think I've still got a lot of small child left in me and this was very sweet. I can see harassing my parents about advent calendars and doing sonething special and festive everyday leading up to Christmas if I'd been exposed to it at the right age. I love that while obviously religious Madeleine L'Engle comes across as spiritual instead. She's got the right kind of love for go...more
3.5 stars

What an endearing read. I somehow missed branching out from The Wrinkle in Time series when I was a child. This book was my first exposure to the Austin family, though I do have one other book about them checked out from the library.

There is a bit too much selfish whining about a baby being born before Christmas, but it's probably a very accurate attitude for a seven year old. I would be upset if my mom might not be able to come to my play for my first speaking part! That said, it's a...more
One of the books in my Christmas box, so I read it every year. Like a number of L'Engle's books, it is charming but flawed--mainly in that Vicky's voice is that of an adult, or at least the teenaged Vicky, not a seven-year-old. Nevertheless, it's always nice to read about the Austins (even though they're even more idyllic than usual in this short book). Every year I find myself thinking about having one special thing for each day leading up to Christmas, and this year it occurred to me that Mrs....more
Sweet little book that would be loved by anyone who loves the Austin Family. Seven year old Vickie is very anxious that the new baby might be born early and cause her mother to be away from home for Christmas. She's tempted to bargain with God and offer to give up being the Christmas angel in the church pageant if only mother doesn't have to miss Christmas. But the only thing you can give God is yourself. Anything else is a bribe. I just love those Austins.
Christine Locke
L'Engle's talent for evoking cozy, loving family life shines in this novella set at Christmastime. L'Engle knits together an appreciation for holiday generosity, a sweet depiction of holiday tradition, and the gentle joy of welcoming a new soul into the world.
This is a wonderful book to share with your children at the holidays. For my own part, it brought back sweet memories of the birth of my own fourth child, who was born at Christmastime.
This was a cute little book, that would make a nice edition to a Christmas book collection, to be taken out and read each December. But I don't understand why it is book #3 in the Austen family series? It's chronologically #1. Is the numbering for the Austen series based on publications? I don't understand.

Either way. I'm glad to be reading through the Austen series, and am looking forward to The Young Unicorns next.
Dec 03, 2013 Erin added it

p. 29 - "God doesn't expect us to give anythign in order for Him to love us. And least not a thing. Just ourselves."

p. 29 - "Mother say we should never try to amke bargains with God. That isn't the way God works."

p. 30 - "As our grandfather once told us, you can't offer anything less than yourself to God; anything less is a bribe, and bribing God is foolish, to say the least."
This is the first Austin Family story I've read and it was OK. My main problem was that the voice of the seven year old narrator was more the voice of a teenager or adult. This would have been acceptable if it was a memoir - but everything was taking place in the present tense. Having said that, it was a kind of a sweet story about getting ready for Christmas.
Room 605
I love Madeleine L'Engle and I got this title as a recommendation from a friend. I enjoyed it, but it is very elementary in reading level even though it has a hear-felt message. After reading it I found it is in a series that spans the main character's growing up years. The rest of them might be more for middle school students.
This sweet short story (only 48 pages) with beautiful spot illustrations may hold more appeal for the adults who grew up with Vicky Austin and her family than for most of today's kids, but it will find an audience with middle graders looking for a nostalgic glimpse into one family's Christmas traditions.
A fun extension to the Austin family series, this short story chronicles the lead up to Christmas for a young Austin family, with Advent as the unifying theme. Poignant in places, the story does a nice job building anticipation for the prime moment we celebrate during the Christmas season.
I've been a big fan of Madelaine L'Engle since forever, but I didn't know about this book until recently. I enjoyed it quite a bit - I liked how the family celebrated Advent by doing a different "special thing" every day. And their special things were so homey and in touch with nature.
Amy C.
I really liked this one . . . Heartwarming without being saccharine. (Not that I don't go for saccharine on occasion, but ykwim.) Too long for a one- sitting readaloud to my 6yo and 4yo, but hard to find a midway stopping point, too. Still worth the effort . . . A good cuddle-up story.
Nayla Caruso
This just arrived in the mail today and I read it while walking my November baby to sleep. It brought tears to my eyes! A perfect Advent read.
Dec 03, 2007 Grace rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
A nice Christmas story, but also a nice family drama story. Told from the point of view of a child, but it's not really a children's story. I read it when I was fairly young, and enjoyed it a lot--so it's really an all-ages book.
I think I was expecting something more along the lines of A Winkle in Time that has a deep story under the words, but this was a very elementary read. A sweet story, but not my favorite.
One of L'Engle's rarer books that I was lukcy enough to find at the local library. A lovely little story about 8-year old Vikki Austin (who appears in L'Engle's young adult books).
My mom read this out loud for us for Christmas. This was a sweet book, and I want to read Meet the Austins to find out more about their darling family.
Super fast read (It took me less than an hour to finish the book).
I'm not sure what one would get out of this if they weren't already an Austin Family fan.
Johanna Hanson
The fact that we are due December 20th with a baby boy no doubt made this one extra special. Probably closer to a 3.5 but very fitting for us this year!
Good Christmas read aloud or read alone.
Just read this in preparation for reading it to my kids. So wholesome and wonderful. I want my family to be like the Austin's!
This is one of my most favorite Christmas stories. It's so cozy. And it's a fast chapter book that you can read in an evening.
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Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener...more
More about Madeleine L'Engle...
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1) A Wind in the Door (Time, #2) A Swiftly Tilting Planet (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #3) Many Waters (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #4) A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)

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