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Official Article

Christmas Retro Reads

By: MissM

Reading books has long been an important part of my dorkdom. I have reached a point of book saturation that I could maybe have my own dorky library of retro reads. It is a problem, I am aware of this. However, it is also a great deal of fun. Since Christmas is only a few days away, I thought it would be fun to look back on some of my favorite books with a Christmas theme.

 

Is Anybody There?

A novel by Eve Bunting (1988)

 

This was one of those Scholastic purchases purely based on the cover. (Actually, when was that ever not the case?) The cover looked beyond mysterious. The main character is reaching for a box of holiday items while looking off to the side in terror. I was hooked. The book takes place around Christmas and Marcus is getting ready for the holiday until he starts noticing odd things here and there. He soon begins wondering if someone is in his attic. The entire story seems like it is going to turn into a horrific novel on par with something from an issue of Tales From the Crypt, until the surprising end. I won’t give it away, but I will say that the story isn’t scary or terrifying, it actually has a touching message about how families can sometimes have problems and how that affects kids, especially around the holidays. (Though I must admit, when the big reveal happened, I was sort of hoping there would have been something scarier involved.)

 

Fear Street Super Chiller: Silent Night

R.L. Stine (1991)

 

In terms of thrills, nothing could beat Fear Street in the late 80s/early 90s. ‘Happy holidays- you’re dead’ goes the tag line. Well doesn’t that sound nice? Fear Street has always been a favorite series of mine, even though I am an old woman and should be reading more grown fare. Fear Street covers always looked creepy and there was a touch of pulp to the series. I was always looking forward to the next title to see what the art work would look like next.

 

The premise of this book was actually enticing, because the main character did not seem like ‘main character’ material. Reva Dalby was the snotty rich girl that was beyond spoiled and annoying. (She had appeared in other Fear Street titles as a minor background character.) Somehow I was rooting for her though. She became a redeemable character. This was one of the first books I ever read where I learned that even the most obnoxious of characters could turn it all around. I certainly didn’t want her to die!

 

A detail of the story is certainly more than enough to make this a fun read. It just sounds completely scary with just the right amount of cheese. I was eating this up as a pre-teen. There were two sequels to Silent Night and each one was more outrageous than the next. I remember going out to dinner with my parents and brother around Christmas, and I sat there at the table reading this book. I was partially being an angst ridden pre-teen but I also had to know what happened next. My parents were not pleased. Books were the original smart phone-preoccupation at the dinner table. Never forget that.

 

A Garfield Christmas

Jim Davis (1987)

 

Oh that lovable Garfield. I remember this book being a very big deal when I got it during the holidays. I was once obsessed with Garfield. I’ve never owned a cat in my life, but I feel like I can relate to them, so the idea of reading about how Garfield would spend a Christmas just seemed perfect to me. I love Jon’s Grandma on the cover. She was one of my favorite characters in this book. She just had a goofy charm. Of course the star though was Garfield.

 

Here is a shot of the back of the book. I like that these special edition Garfield books did a wrap around cover. That is always something special.

 

I think one of the things that made me like Garfield so much was his attitude. He was, in a word, catty. As a kid I didn’t fully understand his somewhat sarcastic nature. I simply thought he was grumpy and for some reason it made me laugh. As I have gotten older I have come to enjoy that personality of his. It’s very endearing, as evidenced in this last image from this Christmas book. He has found a way to celebrate and cherish the meaning of Christmas while also delivering just the right dose of cute snark. I love it.

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Illustrated by Jan Brett (1986)

 

Now the Twelve Days of Christmas has been around for a long time. Once upon a time in the late 80s, I was beyond obsessed with the entire thing. It was like a game, I wanted nothing more than to train my brain to remember every single item that this person was receiving from their true love.

 

I also enjoyed the particular illustrations from this book. I wasn’t able to show every page in this article, but I wanted to share some of my favorites. The six geese a-laying look majestic, especially with their braided hair. I thought this was the most absurd, yet awesome, thing ever.

 

The twelve lords a-leaping was another favorite of mine. That’s a lot of lords leaping around. It just felt like a cool experience though. I would imagine the doors to a grand room opening up and a group of leaping lords just piling in and doing their thing.

 

There is another reason that I enjoy this last page. In an attempt to be cute and charming with some jokes, I wrote in the book! My parents brought me up to respect books and that the only thing that could ever be marked in was a coloring book. So looking at my awful hand writing in this book just makes me smile- ‘and that will cost… 4,000.’ What in the world!

 

The last page in this book (not pictured) is a nice editor’s note about the history of this song. I enjoy Christmas music a great deal, but the Twelve Days of Christmas holds a special place in my nostalgic heart. I would sing this song ad nauseam during the holiday season. It is a song that has a full dose of celebration and excitement for Christmas and the New Year. I hope that everyone is looking over their own favorite books and songs for Christmas. Please share your own thoughts and memories on the items that get you in the mood for Christmas!      

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MissM Posted on Jan 05, 2014 at 08:39 AM

No problem Vaporman! I always love hearing from other people that they wrote in their own books and stuff. It just seems like such a big no-no, but I think it happens a lot. lol It's funny to look back on things like that.

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 23, 2013 at 03:40 AM

On the topic of writing in books, I still have a few from my past that are bursting at the seems with my textual riffing of the action taking place in the pages. Everything from Winnie The Pooh to He-Man received my written scorn. I can recall re-reading the books once I had "revised" them, and cracking myself up until tears poured down my face. LOL. I was my own biggest fan with stuff like that.

Thanks for this Miss M. I will have to dig out those old story books and just read them again.

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