The Kids of Polk Street School
#4 December Secrets by Patricia Reilly Giff.
It’s December, and the kids in Ms. Rooney’s class are learning about Christmas and Hanukkah. To get everyone in the holiday spirit, Ms. Rooney has everyone choose someone else in class as their “Secret December Person,” kind of a Secret Santa-style activity. The kids will give small presents and do nice things for the person they pick.
Emily would have picked her friend Dawn for her person, but they’ve been fighting since Emily wouldn’t let Dawn cut in front of her in line when the fire truck came to school and the kids who were first in line were allowed to actually get in the front seat. Emily tries to pick someone else to be her Secret December Person, but her other choices are taken. When she asks Ms. Rooney who is still available, she suggests Jill Simon.
Emily doesn’t think much of Jill Simon because she’s fat and a crybaby. Whenever the least little thing goes wrong, Jill tears up. She hardly ever smiles. But, although Emily isn’t thrilled at first to have Jill as her Secret December Person, she then thinks that she can use this as an opportunity to help Jill. Maybe her presents will help Jill to become a happier, maybe even thinner person.
Although Emily wants to help Jill, her first attempts fall flat because she’s focusing too much on correcting Jill’s faults instead of thinking about what would really make Jill happy. Jill becomes a happier person when Emily notices the good things about Jill and helps her to see them for herself. The project helps Emily to become a more thoughtful person, and she also makes a surprising discovery about the Secret December Person who has been leaving thoughtful presents for her.