When William Faulkner returned to Mississippi after the bombing of his house, it was to teach the children of his hometown, Oxford, that it was wrong to read one’s neighbor and even one’s co-worker as inferiors. So he wrote children’s books about the virtue of showing grace. In this Christmas collection he challenges children to sit still in the presence of others and to treat them with understanding, not contempt.
When others visit their homes, children write them letters: “Dear Bob.” Then the letters become a story: “Dear Bob,” said the storyteller, his stomach “marbled with the texture of a wilder land.” These children are so bright and charming they hold their own against their skeptical adult narrator. She is never too busy to inquire after the welfare of people other than her own, even asking why Elvis Presley was not especially fond of cats. And if her friends were right, Robert E. Lee, no fan of great books, thought his trip to the library “delicious.”