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Jolly Ol’Holiday Stories! December 11, 2013

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Genre Book Discussion, Holiday Books.
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From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day -there’s nothing but holidays! And so we celebrate all these various festivities by reading books! (Aw, come on -we’re librarians! It’s what we do!) There’s more variety to the Holiday Story than you’d imagine. Would you like proof? Well here it is:

Megan: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum is an enchanting account of the magical life of Santa Claus. Abandoned as an infant and raised by forest nymphs, Claus led a charmed life. As a young man he felt a responsibility to join his fellow mortals and he soon found his calling entertaining and caring for children. This desire to help children quickly became a full time occupation that required the help of his magical immortal family and soon the sleigh-riding jolly man with a sack full of toys became famous around the world. This is a charming Christmas story that will remind readers young and old that Christmas is a magical time of year.

Chris The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans tells the story of a young family, Richard and Keri Evans and daughter Jenna, who move into a mansion to act as caretakers for its owner, MaryAnne Parkin. It’s a very warm, cozy story of people caring for people. And along the way, each benefits in practical and spiritual ways—the widow enjoys having people around and sharing her home; the family enjoys Parkin’s companionship and a lovely place to live. Perhaps the most important thing is the lesson that Richard learns. I felt this book read like a Hallmark Christmas movie, which always get me in the holiday spirit, and sure enough it was, in 1995.

Carol: I read The Mitford Snowmen by Jan Karon. Though there’s not much of a plot, this was a cute little book that tells about a snowman-building contest in Mitford that occurs right in the middle of a busy snowy day. Because it’s a contest, the townspeople all try to one-up each other, trying to build the best snowmen to win the prize, free donuts. Eventually, though, they are all having so much fun that they don’t care about winning…and the mayor decides to buy everyone donuts! The moral I took away from this short book was not to be too busy during the holiday season that you can’t have a little fun. The illustrations of snowmen are pretty darn cute as well.

Emma: The Other Wise Man was written by Henry van Dyke in 1896. It is the story of Artaban, the fourth Magi. Artaban planned to travel to Bethlehem with Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar to bring gifts to baby Jesus. (He had a sapphire, ruby, and pearl to give.) Artaban was detained when he stopped to help someone and missed traveling with the other magi. He spends the next 33 years on a life-long quest to find Jesus and uses the gems to help others along the way. Artaban finally sees Jesus at his crucifixion and bemoans the fact that he had not found him earlier. As Artaban lies dying he has a vision and hears these words from Jesus, “Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me.”

Ann: The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron is just the right mix of schmaltz and puppy-love to make a winning Christmas book. Josh’s neighbor abandons a dog at his house. Although Josh knows nothing about dogs, he certainly recognizes that this one, Lucy, is going to have puppies! Soon, with six dogs, Josh feels very overwhelmed. When he calls the local animal shelter for help with the puppies, Josh meets Kerri, and soon realizes he’s fallen for both Kerri and the dogs in his care. You will love these Lucy and her little puppies just as much as Josh does!

Steve: Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941, by Stanley Weintraub, will delight history buffs who want to be engaged in the political and military maneuverings of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during the holiday season of 1941. The book is light on the Christmas part, but the holidays do present themselves in the background of the detailed meetings and parties of these two giants.

Dori: In The Mischief of the Mistletoe: a Pink Carnation Christmas by Lauren Willig, Arabella Dempsey has recently returned to her home in Bath, accepting a position as a teacher at Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies. A Christmas pudding with a secret message brings her to the attention of Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh, a blundering but kind aristocrat, who is visiting his sister at the school. Together, they try to decipher the message, culminating in a 12-day Christmas celebration at the grand estate of the Dukes of Dovedale and threats to Arabella’s safety. With a dose of romance, mysterious spies, humor aplenty and even a cameo from Jane Austen, this Regency novel is a perfect holiday treat.

Stacey: Silent Night by Robert B. Parker and Helen Brann features all the key characters of a classic Spenser novel with entertaining holiday elements. When a young boy approaches Spenser for help on behalf of a man who runs a shelter for homeless boys, Spenser finds more than just troubled teens lurking around the place. But there’s not much Hawk and Spenser can’t put to rights and in the end, a lovely gathering of family and new friends feels just right. A great, fast-paced and entertaining mystery that has a nice touch of holiday cheer.

And to start the new year off on the right foot? We’ll be discussing narrative non-fiction! If you want to read along with us -and who wouldn’t?!- then you’ll want to find a book that tells a true story but in an engaging prose style! Some popular examples would be: Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand or The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, or just check out our list from the last discussion!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

– Stacey

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