Fulcrum’s Holiday Favorites

If you’ve been following us in the Twitterverse or on Facebook, you know that we’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit this year by reminiscing about our favorite holiday reads, from Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold‘s “Olive, The Other Reindeer” to the Dr. Seuss classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

In a sincere reply, Katie, our marketing manager, explained how books can be more magical than Hollywood’s holiday blockbusters:

"At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."

Before it was a movie (which I refuse to see, based on principle), The Polar Express was simply THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS BOOK OF ALL TIME. Written and illustrated by  Chris Van Allsburg. My mom bought it for me the Christmas after I, um, found out the truth about Santa, ahem. It had been a devastating year for me, what with not only Santa, but the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and she felt I needed some cheering up. My brother, on the other hand, just thought I was pathetic. I was 10 years old, after all, and I was still getting the same number of presents under the Christmas tree regardless of who bought them, so what was the problem, kid? I’m a simple sort of person, though, and believe in things whole-heartedly, and The Polar Express returned most of my childlike faith to me by the end of my first reading. I still have my copy and tear up every time I read it, remembering how beautiful both a child’s belief can be and how warm this season of love and family is to all of us. The Polar Express is the perfect Christmas book for children of all, ahem, ages.

Our editorial intern and another faithful blogger at Fulcrum, Marit, once again illustrates how the elegance of Christmas can get mixed up with a bit of sibling rivalry.

My favorite holiday book is actually a combination of the book and music recording for The Nutcracker. When I was three, my dance class did a recital (or rather, a three-year-old approximation of a recital) to the music from The Nutcracker. After that, until I was about ten, my sister and I officially welcomed the holiday season each year by reading the book, then putting on Mom’s old 33½ mm and dancing through the entire recording. There may or may not have been fights about who got to be the Sugar Plum Fairy.

As for me, I was torn. Being a die-hard Peanuts fan, I wanted to explain the warm and fuzzy feeling I used to get when A Charlie Brown Christmas was featured on CBS and the ABC every year. I planned to go into how, though it’s a television special, I do have the book with sound effects. (A very intuitive present from my little sister, Kara… two Christmases ago. I am not ashamed.) And, last but not least, how I have had a few Christmas trees who were likely direct descendants of Charlie Brown’s poor Christmas tree. Yet, I just can’t call it a favorite book… mostly because that wasn’t its original form.

courtesy of cstock.org

Instead, I’ve unearthed “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson from the dusty tinsel of my childhood memory as one of my favorites. To be honest though, I didn’t remember much about it at first. I simply remember a bunch of hooligans taking over a Christmas pageant (therefore making it

better) and trying really hard in class not to burst out laughing during silent reading time. To this day, I think I was probably one of the five who were actually reading.

After reminiscing a bit over Wikipedia articles and Amazon book reviews, I was surprised how deeply religious the book was from an adult standpoint. As a child, I mostly remembered the narrator’s annoyance and terror when confronted with Imogene Herdman, the second-oldest in the Herdman hooligan clan, and the closest to narrator Beth Bradley’s age. What made the book incredible to me was how these kids, who where obviously not wanted in the church or by the community, made the yearly predictable Christmas pageant something real and valuable again. Whether they wanted to or not, the community invested in the Herdmans and showed that they, too, had value.

Whether you’re a Grinch or a giver, Scrooge or Santa, we at Fulcrum Publishing wish you all the warmest of holiday greetings.

And since I’m still a Peanuts lover at heart, I’ll leave you with this…

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