And now, please enjoy these little clips from the Hudson Bay Holiday Windows on Queen Street (Toronto), and a few moments from the Santa Claus Parade...
Okay, my turn! One new favourite Christmas tale of mine...or a couple, actually...includes Chapter 1 from The House at Pooh Corner and the second poem from Now We Are Six, within one of the most famous series in children's literature, Winnie-the-Pooh.
Beginning with Chapter 1 from The House at Pooh Corner, in which A House is Built at Pooh Corner for Eeyore...this is one of the few chapters or poems in the series of books that takes place during winter (and though not necessarily at Christmastime, the spirit of Christmas is certainly present, in my opinion, at least as far as good intentions go).
Pooh prepares a song for Eeyore and sings it to Piglet as they journey to where Eeyore is:
The more it
The more it
The more it
How cold my
As they continue on their snowy walk, Pooh realizes that Eeyore has no place to live, and so proposes to Piglet that they build him a home. And naturally, Piglet thinks this is a Grand Idea. So, they find a pile of sticks on the other side of Pooh Corner, and begin building on the Warmer Side of said corner.
Eeyore finds Christopher Robin, in the meantime, and grumbles about the cold as the snow slowly engulfs him. Turns out Eeyore's house (a house no one realized he had in the first place) is missing and he wonders if Christopher Robin knows where it has gone. They set out in search of the errant abode.
They hear Pooh and Piglet singing as they build Eeyore's new house out of the sticks that were Eeyore's old house. But Eeyore somehow gets to take credit for the new, better built home now standing in a Warmer, more suitable spot (Pooh Corner, no less). All is well!
Then there's the poem, King John's Christmas, from Now We Are Six.Here's a verse, but you'll need to read the book to discover the rest (and preferably, you'll read it to someone you love at Christmastime, along with all the other poetry):
King John was not a good man--
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air--
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.
Read on to a link about another of my favourite Christmas stories, and find out more about my very own published Christmas book, Merry Myrrh, the Christmas Bat...
The 11th day of the 12 Books of the Holiday Season, with guest blog post by author Leslie C. Halpern
My Favorite Holiday Story: A Christmas Carol
I’m especially fond of the Charles Dickens’s novella, A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843, because of its humanitarian theme. Dickens, an enthusiastic proponent of educating and subsidizing the poor, created the character of Ebenezer Scrooge as a lonely miser without compassion until he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, and undergoes a personal transformation. The story revolves around far more than merely a season of giving, and includes a life-altering change in one fictional man’s perception that in reality inspired countless readers to change their thinking about the way to celebrate the holiday.
Leslie C. Halpern is the author of Poodles & Doodles: Poems about Dogs. This pack of wild dog poems skewers oodles of adorably outrageous dog behaviors. Using various poetic forms, including haiku, limerick, acrostic, diamante, free verse, and rhyming couplets, the author shares humorous universal truths about man’s best friend for readers of all ages. Halpern is an award-winning author of several books of poetry and nonfiction books about entertainment.
Episode 7 of a 13 episode web series called "A Man of Great Importance Explores the Scary Changes, and Social Decline, and Secret Horrors of Our World, and He Doesn’t Like it One Bit". Based on characters from the feature film "Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem!", including A Man of Great Importance, the movie's narrator. This episode stars Jason Reilly as A Man of Great Importance. Written by Jason Reilly. Directed and edited by Regan Macaulay. Lights and camera work by Kevin Risk. Produced by Maureen Bell, Regan Macaulay and Kevin Risk.
The Foxwood Surprise
Even as a child, I felt like I was born in the wrong time and place. I think that is why stories set in a long ago time where magic was still seen as real appeal to me. The Foxwood Surprise is one of those stories.
Full of rich and detailed illustrations you can get lost in, readers are transported to another world in the Foxwood series, where foxes live in manor houses, and badgers, hares, and hedgehogs are best friends. The characters are always creative problem solvers, and in this story about Harvey, Rue, and Willy, the three children must find a way to buy Christmas presents because they've spent all their money building sleds for themselves. Then they come across an accident on the road and must give up their sleds to rescue the passengers. Because they've made this sacrifice though, many fun surprises unfold for them, and all the critters who live in Foxwood.
This is a great story about the true meaning of giving. As an avid lover of animals and books, this is one I would pull from my shelf every winter, and will continue to do so when I have grandchildren in my lap.
My book isn't holiday themed, but the main character, Sophie was born on a cold snowy night!
Sophie never imagined one little secret would change the course of her life. No one believed her about what happened to her mom. The officers in charge of the investigation thought she was confused. The psychiatrist persuaded everyone she was delusional.
She never should've mentioned Bailean--her best friend. And a dragon.Over the years she's tried to tell herself he wasn't real. That the stories her mom told her about Brindle, a hidden land, were only fairy tales. She almost had herself convinced. Then she inherited her grandmother's house in Vermont.
Now more and more memories are rising to the surface: the gleam of a king's golden belt buckle, iridescent scales, a haunting song. It's all connected to her mom and the events of that afternoon in her New York apartment. The truth terrifies her. But, is the truth different for Sophie than it is for other people, or is the truth the same for everyone? Is the truth what her dad or doctors insist, or found in the fairy tales her Mom used to tell her? Or is the truth a whispered voice from deep inside that no one else can hear?
Links to buy:
My website: https://www.thedragoncharmer.com/my-books/
Barnes and Noble: Dragon Song|Paperback
Here's the book trailer: https://www.thedragoncharmer.com/?s=dragon+song+book+trailer
The Grinch and I
I’ve never felt there were many Christmas books that stood out compared to other forms of seasonal entertainment. Movies and television specials of the season have definitely delivered more memorable moments for me over the years.
Take the sheer lunacy of A Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (still a favorite in my household) for example. The classics of my childhood, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, etc. Even A Charlie Brown Christmas sticks out stronger in my memory than most seasonal books I’ve read. But How The Grinch Stole Christmas has one thing that even the most lavishly illustrated book about Santa Claus or The Night Before Christmas or even A Christmas Carol doesn’t have. Just like the television specials I mentioned above, the Grinch creates a completely unique, yet utterly believable, fantastical world of its own.
There are two main reasons this book means so much to me. First and foremost is the fantastical world Theodore Geisel aka Dr. Seuss creates. This is a land of Grinches and Whos - creatures who live very different (yet perhaps parallel in some ways) lives than we do, in a very different place and time.
Although Santa Claus (or Santy Claus as the name is written) is mentioned and he is even referred to as Saint Nick, it is obvious from the world we see, that this is a different Claus than the one we know. The village of Whoville gathers together to sing and feast on roast beast at a huge table together. The Grinch lives in a cave in the mountains. Yes, he has a dog, but this dog is very much of this other world in appearance and surprising in his apparent supernatural ability to pull a giant sled full of presents all on his own.
There is no specific mention of time or place but the Whos seem to live in a rural setting with a mere handful of houses in the middle of a valley, possibly in the middle of nowhere. And yet, somehow, they have access to gift wrap, cardboard boxes, electric lights and refrigerators and even a supply of things like tricycles, silverware, drums and toy trains.
How this is possible is never explained, but since there are no roads, electrical poles, visible phone lines or other sources of energy, we must conclude that this fantastical world gets power and supplies through other means. It’s up to our own imaginations to solve this conundrum. While Dr. Seuss does not state outright that the worlds he takes us to in his books such as The Grinch are “not of this earth” it is certainly obvious that the places he puts before our eyes are unpredictable, surprising and sometimes downright alien.
I have always loved falling into another world, running to another place through fiction and other art forms. In fact, my love of theatre comes from the very same place. A created world that, although we know it isn’t real by the edge of the stage and the curtains behind, we are still pulled into simply by the beauty and strangeness presented before us.
My entire life, I have been drawn to stories of odd realities, of fantastical, clever, self contained worlds. Much of this comes from growing up reading author/illustrators like Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry and even Herge. Whether set in a version of the supposed real world or in a fantasy land of sorts, I grew up immersing myself in books that showed me places beyond the boring small-town world I lived in. Beyond schoolwork, bullies, troubles in my family, beyond anything I knew. Dr. Seuss and the others created places I could escape into and given the life I had, at times, this was the only thing that got me through...
Read on for the rest of The Grinch and I, and to learn about R.J. Downes' upcoming radio play...
My favorite holiday book is a newer one, written by my friend, Dennis Higgins. It's called Christmas Returns to Pottersville. We all know the story, It's a Wonderful Life. Christmas Returns to Pottersville is the story of Peter Potter, a descendant of the original Mr. Potter. He's the Scrooge who owns Pottersville. Corruption and discontent are rampant in this miserable little town. After attempting to take his life, Mr. Potter is shown what the place would've been like had he not been born to wreck it. It's a real eye-opener that inspires Mr. Potter to change his ways and create a wonderful life.
I love this story because it's an imaginative combination of two other beloved Christmas tales: It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. It's a well-written, quick read that offers hope that kindness and love can make the world a better place. A lovely Christmas story recommended for all ages!
Link to buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Returns-Pottersville-Dennis-Higgins-ebook/dp/B07GYQDS2B/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=christmas+returns+to+pottersville&qid=1575403729&sr=8-1
Here's my book: Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China
Buy link: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bubba-Squirts-Big-Dig-China/dp/1939844509/ref=sr_1_1?crid=33XZXMTQTEHR5&keywords=bubba+and+squirt%27s+big+dig+to+china&qid=1575403439&sprefix=bubba+and+squirt%27s+%2Caps%2C134&sr=8-1
From the publisher where you can buy one get one free for all of December: http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/new-adultyoung-adultmiddle-grade
(scroll down until you find the book)
You can't dig a hole to China!
Squirt doesn't believe Bubba can dig a hole to China. But when the hole swallows them, the kids find themselves in Xi'an, China, surrounded by Terracotta Warriors.
It gets worse when the ghost of the first emperor of China appears. He tells them they can't go home until they find his missing pi. The kids don't know where to begin until they meet a girl and her grandmother who promise to help find the pendant.
Soon they realize they are being followed. And they are no closer to finding the missing pi. Will Bubba and Squirt ever make it back home?
I cannot think of Christmas without thinking of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It became a firm favourite when I was young and has stayed that way throughout the years. Within that novella, Dickens paints such incredibly detailed characters that the reader cannot help but be moved by the plight of Tiny Tim and the dedication of Bob Cratchit.
However, above all that the transition in Scrooge is both thought provoking and moving, leaving the reader better for having known his story and ready themselves to order the finest turkey to give to those in need and recapture the very best of the Christmas spirit, rather than being pulled into its pointless commercialisation and selfishness.
It is no surprise that many screen versions of the book have been made and there are quotes from the book which are recognisable to millions of readers. Perhaps the most famous of which is “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
As a publisher good Christmas stories give me a great deal of pleasure and the collection we brought out, A Wish For Christmas which contains 20 short stories for the holiday season has something for everyone. https://books2read.com/AWishForChristmas
A Wish for Christmas
Put your feet up and revel in all that is best of Christmas and New Year with 20 stories from authors across the globe. Stories range from the moving to the amusing, the romantic to the tussle of family life.
Add a little sparkle to your Christmas with A Wish for Christmas.
As a writer my latest book, while not seasonal, does, I hope, show some of the same spirit as found within A Christmas Carol. https://books2read.com/UnequalByBirth
Unequal By Birth
1866 - Daniel Flynn and Molly Reilly’s lives have been dogged by hardship since their orphan days on the streets of New York. Finally, the future is looking bright and Indiana is the place they call home. Now they can focus on making Cochrane’s Farm a success.
The Civil War might have ended but the battle for Cochrane’s Farm has only just begun. The Reese brothers are incensed that land, once part of their family farm, has been transferred to the ownership of young Molly. No matter that their Daddy had sold it years previously, jealousy and revenge have no regard for right. Women should know their place and this one clearly doesn’t.
Times are changing and a woman’s place is changing with it. How far will Daniel and Molly go to fight injustice and is it a price worth paying?
The Father Christmas Letters -- J.R.R. Tolkien
Probably my favourite memory from Christmas is reading the most adorable and amusing series of letters a dad ever wrote his kids. And when that father is J.R.R. Tolkien, you can bet there were some great illustrations to go along with the stories, as well as personalized envelopes.
Tolkien wrote these charming and funny stories to his children in letter form from 1920 until 1942. Can you imagine the excitement on Christmas when the new missive from the North Pole arrived? Populated with memorable characters like the accident-prone North Polar Bear and his cubs, and narrated by Father Christmas himself, Tolkien wrote in a distinctive spidery hand and accompanied his tales with colourful drawings.
For fans of his later Lords of the Rings and other of his works, discovering Father Christmas for the first time or reacquainting yourself with him will lend an extra air of magic to the holiday season.
Buy the new edition, called -- in what I think is a totally unnecessary update of the title -- Letters from Father Christmas at the official site from HarperCollins: https://www.tolkien.co.uk/products/letters-from-father-christmas-j-r-r-tolkien-9780007463374/
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Father_Christmas_Letters
You can read my story "A Christmas in Arabia" for free on Wattpad at https://www.wattpad.com/story/10770813-a-christmas-in-arabia and buy the collection it appears in (Feral Tales) on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Feral-Tales-Jen-Frankel/dp/1988393035.
My favorite Christmas story isn’t truly Christmas story. But the first scene takes place as they prepare for Christmas and the first line is “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.”
Do you know it? I am betting you do.
I love Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I cannot tell you how many times I read it.
And this Christmas, a new movie version releases. It looks wonderful. I can’t wait to see it.
Here is a link to the Trailer:
I went to look up Christmas stories and I was surprised to find a real Christmas story by Louisa May Alcott. It is available free online. I read it and loved it.
I posted the link for you because there are a lot more Christmas stories, activities and recipes on this website. I wish you all your perfect dream of Christmas.
My Christmas picture book is Mom, Is There a Santa Claus? No trailer, sadly...but it is also available in Spanish. Mamá, Existe Santa Claus?
Blurb: Lucas’s best friend says there is no Santa Claus. That it is just grownups fooling you. Lucas is sure his friend is wrong. Why would grownups fool kids? When he asks his mom to for the truth she invites him to become a dreamkeeper.
These are Goodreads links because the English edition is available at Amazon, Walmart and Barnes & Noble, and lots of other places including IndieBound.
English edition: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/32184867
Spanish Edition is available only at Amazon and B&N:
"The story is adorable and the author captures the essence of the season beautifully. The illustrations are vivid and delightful and they breathe life into the characters and scenes."
- Reader's Favorites
"What Berger has done with this story is come up with a unique and special way of answering this question that helps young people embrace the spirit of the season. As someone who believes Santa is alive and well, I loved this book and its wonderful message."
- The Children and Teen's Book Connection