Welcome Comfort

Last updated Friday, November 21, 2008

Author: Patricia Polacco
Date of Publication: 1999
ISBN: 0399231692
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2008

Synopsis: Ostracized at school, an overweight foster child named Welcome Comfort is befriended by the equally rotund school custodian, who heads out of town with his wife every Christmas Eve ("It's just something we always do"). Plucked from his bed for a sleigh ride with Santa, Welcome wonders for years if the trip was just a dream, and finds the answer only after Mr. Hamp retires and chooses him as his successor. Polacco's artwork is even more vibrant than usual, and her Santa scenes are sure-fire crowd-pleasers.

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary: custodian, holly

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Are you excited for the holiday season?
•  What are your favorite holiday stories?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever helped someone who was being bullied? Is it ok to tease people?
•  Do you have any mentors in your life that aren’t your parents?
•  Why do you think Martha and Quintin go north every Christmas?
•  What does Quintin mean by believing and seeing? Do you think seeing is believing or believing is seeing?
•  Do you think that Welcome was dreaming, or did he go with Santa?
•  What do you think happened to the pin that Santa gave to Welcome?
•  Why did Welcome treasure the fish that Quintin gave him? What is your favorite Christmas present?
•  Why did Quintin invite Welcome and Ruby to go north with them this Christmas?
•  Why did Welcome think that something wasn’t right when he heard the children laughing?
•  What do you think will happen with Welcome and the new little boy?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Spiral Christmas Tree Ornament-- Draw a large “cinnamon bun” on a piece of white paper. Cut from the outside all the way to the middle—make sure to leave a circle in the middle. Cut out a triangle and attach to the middle of the “cinnamon bun” for the top of the tree. Make a hole to attach an ornament hook or string.
•  Storyboard for what will happen next with Welcome and the new boy.
•  Make Christmas cards for the family (use popups, etc)
•  Make a star pin with a holly out of construction paper and yarn.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!