Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Paper Bag Christmas – Kevin Alan Milne

©2006 Center Street, New York

As the Christmas season rolls around, finding new (or new to me) stories with a Christmas setting captures my fancy. This year my habit got a start with a re-issue of a 2006 feel-good called The Paper Bag Christmas.

Nine-year-old Molar (named for his orthodontist father’s favorite tooth) and his eleven-year-old brother, Aaron, are whisked away the day after Thanksgiving to see Santa at the local mall and present him with their wish list. What they found was the most interesting Santa with a more interesting suggestion. After they filled both sides of the paper given them to put “Everything I ever wanted for Christmas . . .” on, the boys are challenged to meet Santa at a local children’s hospital where they will find everything they never wanted for Christmas.

Assigned as elves to help Dr. Christoffer K. Ringle (aka Santa Claus) bring Christmas cheer to a floor full of young cancer patients, Mo and Aaron find themselves in the perfect place to find the real meaning of Christmas.

With an international cast of characters like the Scottish doctor, the janitor/elf from the Bronx (the story takes place in Oregon), and an intriguing but wise patient from India, this little book is great holiday fare. Bring a box of tissues with you to handle the obligatory jerk of tears that accompanies any good Christmas story.

The Paper Bag Christmas is a heartwarming reminder of what Christmas is all about that struggle

s in the telling. The dialogue is a mixture of great and mediocre writing owing most likely to the fact that this is Milne’s debut novel. The awkward writing found mostly in the conversational passages in which Molar sounds more like a boy of fifteen with a limited vocabulary than a nine-year-old with an advanced one do not distract from the story itself.

As regular reading I’d probably give this book only three reading glasses, but because it is the season and it is a Christmas book, and I did enjoy it very much, and I think anyone wanting to read Christmas fare (whatever time they want to read it) will want to read this book, I recommend it with four out of five reading glasses.

Merry Christmas—Benjamin Potter, December 6, 2008


Kevin Milne said...

Hi Benj...thanks for the review and constructive criticism. I appreciate 4 of 5 glasses! :-) One note: The story doesn't take place in Utah, as you indicate. It doesn't even mention Utah, so I'm curious as to where you came up with that (it takes place in my home state of Oregon). Thanks! Kevin

Benjie said...


Thanks for stopping by. I really did enjoy the book, and contrary to popular belief I did know that the setting was in Oregon (my rush to get the review posted while the effects of the story were still fresh--plus my lazy refusal to proofread anything--caused the oversight. I've corrected it, thanks).

I always love it when authors stop by to scan my humble reviews. Come back anytime.

Oh, and thanks for reminding your readers that the season is much more than Santa Claus (who, I am sure, knows this as well).


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