Friday, December 26, 2008

The Lump of Coal

by Lemony Snicket
HarperCollins, 2008

A thinking, talking, moving lump of coal dreams of becoming an artist, or at least proving useful in a barbecue. Rejected first by a snooty art gallery owner, then by the owner of an inauthentic Korean restaurant, the lump of coal despairs of ever finding success. Will his encounter with one of Santa's helpers bring about his very own Christmas miracle? Read the book yourself to discover its satisfying conclusion.

Told in a style similar to Snicket's engaging Series of Unfortunate Events.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Angel of Bastogne

by Gilbert Morris
Broadman & Holman, 2005

Ben Raines is a seasoned hard-nosed reporter who needs a vacation. His plans to spend Christmas, a holiday he spurns, is thwarted when his editor assigns him the task of writing the newspaper's annual front-page Christmas article.

Ben decides to do an anti-It's a Wonderful Life tale by finding the men who served in his father's unit during the Second World War. Willy Raines was wounded while saving the lives of his fellow soldiers and Ben wants to show that their lives were not worth saving, that one person's actions don't make a difference.

Of course, Ben finds something entirely different as he goes on his journey of discovery. And in doing so, he finds new hope, direction, and fulfillment in living.

An emotionally satisfying story in the tradition of It's A Wonderful Life and Skipping Christmas (by Grisham).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: a Christmas story

by Lemony Snicket
McSweeney's Books, 2007

A Christmas book by Lemony Snicket, author of the Series of Unfortunate Events?! Yes, indeed. Sort of.

A runaway latke has to explain his role in Hanukah to different Christmas symbols he meets along his way.

Informative and humorous, with simple but clever illustrations.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Child is This?: A Christmas Story

by Caroline B. Cooney
Delacourte Press, 1997

Liz's family celebrates Christmas in a big way, but Liz still feels she's missing something. Matt and Katie are foster kids shuffled from home to home, never sure where they'll be spending the next holiday. Liz and Matt both envy Tack's family, who run the River Wind Inn and seem to have it all together.

When Matt and Katie's social worker gives them a chance to make a Christmas wish, Katie wishes for a family. But Pollard won't allow her wish to be printed and hung on a tree. After all, "Christmas is about little things" and no one is going to give her a family for Christmas. Matt knows this is true, but he still thinks Katie's wish deserves to be posted, so he prints it off and hangs it on the wish tree at River Wind Inn.

When Katie's wish is taken from the tree, each learns what Christmas is truly all about.

A satisfying story that will touch your heart (if you have one!).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Highland Christmas

A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
by M.C. Beaton
Warner Books, 1999

Christmas in Locdubh, Scotland, promises to be a dismal affair, with the Calvinist element firmly against any secular display. And Constable Hamish Macbeth's hands are full with a frightened old woman whose cat has gone missing, a forlorn little girl in need of friends, and the mysterious theft of some holiday goods. Can he make everything right by Christmas Day?

Beaton is a wonderful author who creates memorable characters, and Macbeth is a hilarious protagonist. If reading this doesn't fill you with Christmas cheer, nothing will!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Family Blessings

by Fern Michaels,
Pocket Books, 2005

At this time of year, I do like a good Christmas read. This story starts in late November and carries the reader through the Christmas season.

A freak tornado sweeps through Larkspur, Pennsylvania and lifts Cisco's house from its foundations just before Thanksgiving. As if that's not bad enough, her beloved triplet grandchildren, all newlyweds, seem to be having marital problems. Secrets and lack of communication are at the heart of it all. Will the couples get their priorities straight and their marriages back on track, or are three divorces in the offing?

This ought to lighten your Christmas stress. But someone should have told the author not to create characters whose names start with similar sounds - I mean Cisco, Sam, Sonia, Sara, Zach, and (Father) Stanley? A bit much, don't you think?!

You might want to try Michaels' No Place Like Home first. It is her previous Christmas novel, in which these characters are introduced.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Librarian's Night Before Christmas

a picture book
by David Davis
Illustrated by Jim Harris,
Pelican Publishing, 2006

Love the premise, but very hit and miss in terms of how well the concepts are presented in rhyme.
  • example of a hit: "He was bearded and gabbed like a good storyteller/ And he grinned like a writer with a New York bestseller."
  • example of a miss: "Santa charged through the door, and his black knee boots shone/ He bowed as he asked, "Need interlibrary loans?"

Borrow it from the library (like I did) if you want to, but don't bother making it a purchase. Not even for your favourite librarian or library worker. (I'm a librarian, but could care less if this made it onto my personal bookshelf.)