Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A New Classic: The Paper Bag Christmas

A year ago I was invited to read and review my first book for Hachette Book Group. I enjoyed the book, and thought it was worth re-posting, especially for those of you who enjoy reading Christmas stories at this time of year.
Every Christmas season there are several wonderful, inspiring novels published. I read one each year to get in the spirit, in addition to returning to old favorites. Last year I was lucky enough to receive The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne from Hachette Book Group. The first thing that caught my eye after seeing it was a Christmas-themed book, was the author's last name. According to Milne's web site, his mother has done research that links them with the author of the Winnie the Pooh stories. That's a fun bit of information!

The Paper Bag Christmas is the story of Mo (Molar) and Aaron Alan, 9 and 11 year old brothers, and their experience volunteering on a pediatric oncology ward in the weeks before Christmas. The tale is told by Mo as an adult:
I'm Molar Alan, and this is my story. It is as real to me as the Santa of my youth, and I share it with an enduring hope that yo will carry its message beyond the realm of reindeer, elves, or toys and embed it deep in your heart where the distractions and disappointments of life can't enter, where the worldly can look but not touch, and where the rich in spirit can come and go at will. As with many Christmas stories, mine began on Santa's lap. But this was no ordinary Santa, and he had anything but an ordinary lap.
I'm sure hearing the words Christmas story and cancer makes you think The Paper Bag Christmas is a real tear-jerker, but it definitely is not! It is funny, inspiring, and a little unpredictable. The characters are interesting and each has a special role: Aaron, the protective older brother, All-American boy; Mo, beginning to question the way the world works; Madhu, the Hindu, who wants to learn all he can about the wonderful holiday everyone is celebrating; Katrina, surviving against the odds, and Dr. Ringle, is he really Santa?
At 150 pages,The Paper Bag Christmas is great for a family read-aloud in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I gave the book to my 10-year-old niece who read it in two days and really enjoyed it. She found many parts funny, and noticed details that I had overlooked. Our family has had many experiences with cancer, so that aspect of the book didn't stand out to her, as it might with other kids her age. Her favorite parts were at the beginning when Mo and Aaron sit on Santa's lap, which is where I totally laughed out loud also, and the pageant at the end. The epilogue made her ask questions and wonder what would happen with Mo and his own children, a great endorsement for any book!
Many children would relate to Mo and Aaron getting a little old for certain parts of the Christmas experience. The story of how Molar was named is cute, and the after-hours hi-jinks in the pediatric ward are very adventurous and funny. Like many Christmas stories it ends with a pageant that I could definitely envision from Mr. Milne's vivid writing, as well as my own experiences with children and performing! This warm and sweet book is sure to become a seasonal classic.
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6 comments:

Its So Very Cheri said...

Yes it is--you just want to barely touch it and singe the edges.

Cheri

Barbara said...

Elizabeth,

Just dropped in to say Happy Thanksgiving.

Barbara

concretenprimroses said...

Sounds like a lovely book. I'll look for it.
Kathy

♥georgie♥ said...

what a great review...I am on my way right now to find this book...it is now a must have for me...

I wanted to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tina said...

This is on my Christmas shelf from last year, and you have now made sure I will read it this year. It sounds enchanting and that is what we all need thijavascript:void(0)s time of year. thanks for the nice review.

Lung-cancer said...

Sounds like a good book.
Thanks for the great review.