Yesterday I was walking past a bookstore window. I was kind of in a rush—it being the Christmas season, but there was a display of books in the window. I couldn’t keep walking. I had to stop and read the titles. What an outstanding, serendipitous moment! Did you know there is a book—It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids!?

Published in 2006 by Dutton Children’s Books and written by Jimmy Hawkins who played Tommy in the film, the book honors the film’s sixtieth anniversary of its release. But the book does a lot more than that.

The story is about Tommy Bailey who is now eleven years old. Like the film the book begins with prayers. Tommy has run away and his family turns to Heaven for help. The angel Clarence who is familiar with such problems suggests the angel Arthur. Arthur learns about Tommy and goes to help. Like George Bailey in the film, Tommy also gets a glimpse of what life would have been like for others if he had never been born. Tommy discovers that even kids can play significant parts in the lives of others. The seemingly small acts of kindness and care that they do are important and valuable.

The storyline of It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids! was created with kids in mind. The problems are kid problems and the kind of assistance that Tommy offers to others is the kind of assistance that any child could give. The film needed a villain like Mr. Potter. The book doesn’t have one, but Tommy’s fear that people will think he is a thief and his despair that he cannot replace the lost money are enough for this child’s version of the story. I think children will have no problem relating to such fear and despair.

Douglas B. Jones illustrated It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids! He sets the story in the early 1950s and depicts life and clothes from that time. His illustrations are expressive and appropriate. I think it will be fun for kids to see how kids dressed during other times.

While I would not say the book is text heavy, I think its theme and Tommy’s age and activities will resonate better with children six and above.