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30 CHICAGO CHRISTMASES

30 CHICAGO CHRISTMASES: A PERSONAL JOURNEY RECOUNTING THIRTY HOLIDAY SEASONS IN THE SECOND CITY by [MICHAEL MCCALLEY]

There is no better way to document life than through diaries or letters. Many families hold to the dedicated tradition of sending out a yearly Christmas letter summarizing the year’s events, challenges, and accomplishments. These letters serve to keep family and friends up-to-date and make them feel more connected to those who live too far away to visit regularly throughout the year. One of the most endearing aspects of holiday letters is the way in which they show the growth and change in families while at the same time documenting little bits of history.

Within 30 Chicago Christmases: A Personal Journey Recounting Thirty Holiday Seasons in the Second City, Michael Shawn McCalley has pieced together one such work–a collection of Christmas letters based on his years in Chicago. From beginning to end, McCalley reveals each and every aspect of his life from 1991 to the present. Readers are treated to a seat at the family dinner table as they read of McCalley’s accomplishments and frustrations for the year. He gives a thorough rundown of his year including wonderful descriptions of life in the Chicago area and its regular events throughout the seasons. Readers who frequent Chicago will find these mentions familiar and comforting, while those not from the area will learn something new with each letter about the cultures represented there and the rich display of arts found in the city.

The idea for this book is a quite unique one indeed. McCalley’s writing style is almost prophetic and reads smoothly and with a cadence not often seen in most autobiographical works. McCalley manages to make some of the most mundane activities read as though they are stanzas in an eloquent poem. It is certainly interesting to see the growth and the progress experienced by the author over the years. Some readers will be able to relate to his accomplishments and advancements. Others will find themselves sympathizing with the challenges he faced over the years with home improvements.

Readers looking for a short, engaging read will find Michael Shawn McCalley’s, 30 Chicago Christmases, just the ticket. Anyone seeking a holiday read that is easy on the emotions will enjoy relating to McCalley’s story.

Pages: 172 | ASIN: B08K3NR974

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Marley: The Other Christmas Carol – Trailer

Doomed to wander for generation after generation, under the curse of heavy chains, Jacob Marley’s soul was lost and without hope with nothing of this earth that belonged to him except the cold fingers of the grave – to which he refused to retreat.Marley saves the soul of a dear friend and finds himself trapped between the realm of untapped power and endless damnation. Waiting and waiting, hoping to prove himself…WORTHY!

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol: (Retold by Norman Whaler and Illustrated by Bianca Milacic) by [Whaler, Norman]

Norman Whaler’s A Christmas Carol is an exceptional retelling of a classic Christmas story. The story of stingy and selfish old Scrooge who learns through a series of ghostly visits that he has the power to ease the suffering of others and bring joy to those around him.

Norman Whaler tells this story in short rhymes that were spot on every time. The rhythm’s were short and succinct but still summed up the expanded story perfectly. Each page is accompanied by high quality art that supports the narrative and fits the book’s tone. The art is so good that I wanted to see more of it. I felt like some of the paragraphs, because they summarized so much of the story, could have been on another page with it’s own art to give life to what was being told. But this is a critique that comes out of the desire to see more of the exceptional artwork already displayed.

This is a retelling of a classic Christmas story that highlights Christian themes throughout the book with a deft touch. At the end of the book readers are treated to bonus material in the way of Christmas sheet music. I can imagine that this book would be a nice way to start a Christmas night with the family, with a story followed by songs.

If you love Christmas stories, especially the classic one of Scrooge, you will want to pick this up for the young readers in your home.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B07QF4BPKG

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The Missing Reindeer

The Missing Reindeer by [Smith, Zeke]

The Missing Reindeer is a short, illustrated children’s Christmas storybook about a little boy named Sammy. The story follows Sammy who lives with his tribe in Northern Scandinavia where they herd reindeer. When the Reindeer go missing, things seem dire for Sammy and his tribe, and so he decides to make a winter’s wish to Santa Claus. This is a cute little Christmas story about being thankful for what you have and those around you.

The book is a little less than twenty pages long, and each page has only a few sentences of text one it, making it a quick read. It is a perfect story to read to small children around Christmas time as it explores a little of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, while also being a sweet Christmas story that has hope and thankfulness. The illustrations of the book are pretty and vibrant. I liked the art style of the book which was a little water-color inspired cartoon drawings. I thought that the backgrounds and animals were particularly beautiful. There were a few of the pages where the people in the illustrations seemed a little out of place with the scene or what the text was describing, but overall it worked together nicely.

Christmas stories are always a fun addition to have to read to your children during the winter, and I appreciated that the setting and plot worked together to give this story some originality. Overall The Missing Reindeer by author Zeke Smith is a sweet children’s Christmas tale that shows endearing heart, and lovely illustrations, a perfect combo for a wonderful children’s book.

Pages: 20 | ASIN: B0794V1ZP8

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Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – Audiobook


Tiny Tim is all grown up, and everything he loves and holds dear has been ripped from him. Upon the death of his dear friend, Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim begins to question each of his beliefs and the very faith that had been instilled in his family with the love of Scrooge himself years ago. Tim, now an adult, is faced with the loss of another of his dear loves, Becky. As fate would have it, Becky is simultaneously suffering through the most trying time of her young life on the streets with her young son and no place to lay their heads. Just as fate intervened fourteen years ago in the form of Ebenezer Scrooge, fate lays its hand on upon Tim once more.

Norman Whaler has crafted a beautiful tale of faith, hope, and love in his sequel to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – Audiobook details the events surrounding and immediately following the death of an aged Ebenezer Scrooge. Tim Cratchit, once the young crippled boy benefiting from Scrooge’s change of heart in A Christmas Carol, is impacted most of all by Scrooge’s death.

From beginning to end, Whaler’s sequel to the beloved classic pays homage to the original plot and the beautiful transformation made by its key character, Ebenezer Scrooge. Though Tiny Tim, now all grown up, is the title character, he also exhibits a change of heart similar to that of Scrooge. Tim fights a battle within himself as he struggles to regain his faith. Whaler does a phenomenal job of adhering to the feel of the original book with his references to Scrooge’s character transformation. The reader watches as Tim fights a similar battle and, ultimately, wins with Scrooge’s help.

As a fan of the original tale of Scrooge and the Cratchits, I could not help but fall in love with the parallel story line and the magic of three as it again reared its head in Tim’s life. The sound quality and voice over is exceptional in this audiobook and delivers this lovely story in a clear and crisp manner. Scrooge’s reappearance from the afterlife is expected but quite fitting. Whaler has done Dickens proud with this quick read rich with character development and steeped with faith.

Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes | ASIN: B01NAJJLXP

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Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge

Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The sequel to A Christmas Carol by [Whaler, Norman]

It takes a bold artist to follow up a masterpiece. Far too often, the original creators can’t even recapture a work’s magic in its sequel. Sometimes though, the most devoted admirers are up to the task. Norman Whaler’s Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – The Sequel to A Christmas Carol might be derivative, but it’s derivative in all the right ways. Whaler knows he’s trying to extend Dickens classic, and he succeeds.

Whaler opens his sequel by briefly summarizing the ending of A Christmas Carol – which quickly helps ground any readers who haven’t read it recently. Here, we see right away that Whaler makes the smart decision to evoke Dickens rather than imitate him. He echos Dickens’ source of tension in the characters’ lives: for crippling poverty still grips this corner of London. And with the newly philanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge now deceased, the citizens again find themselves facing an English winter without money for food or clothing.

My favorite part of the reading was hearing more from the side characters whose voices drive the plot. Unfortunately, the illustrations that start each chapter vary wildly in terms of style and medium. They all match the subject of the story well, but fail to match each other. Some appear hand drawn while others have been made on a computer. Even just applying the same filter to each illustration would have helped unify the novel.

Whaler clearly admires and respects Dickens, but I do think he missed out on an opportunity to be a little more self referential with the sequel – Dickens might very well have appreciated just such humor. Regardless, the voice and tone that first made this Christmas classic are there in full force. If you read the conclusion of Dickens’ original to your children while a cold winter blast beasts against the frame of the house, they might just turn up toward you and ask, as so many readers have over the decades, “what happens next?” In such an event, you now know where to turn.

Pages: 96 | ASIN: B076YGMGF9

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Imaginative Solutions

Yossi Lapid Author Interview

Yossi Lapid Author Interview

Christmas with Snowman Paul is a heartwarming story showing empathy and helping others. What were some important themes you wanted to capture in this book?

I wanted my story to resonate with themes that address the true meaning of the holiday season such as friendship, inclusion, and family. The appeal of these values is in many ways near universal. My hope was that the story will raise questions such as: What does it mean to be a best friend? How does it feel to be excluded on a major holiday? Should we try harder to come up with imaginative solutions to problems of exclusion which seem, at first sight, insoluble? At the same time, I tried to address these themes with a fresh perspective and in a gentle, engaging and humorous way.

Ultimately, this is a simple story that encourages children of all ages to be sensitive to the needs of those who feel lonely and have no one to celebrate with.

The illustrations in this book are fantastic and serve to compliment the story. What was the art collaboration like with Joanna Pasek?

Collaborating with Joanna Pasek has been sheer joy from the very beginning. What I admire most in Joanna’s work is her unmatched ability to capture the emotional core of our key characters. The dog, for instance, is a key character that did not appear in my original text and was entirely Joanna’s creation. As an author, I always know that Joanna will find the best ways to match the narrative with compelling images which do not only illustrate the stories but also compliment them in new exciting ways. This holds true even in cases where text requires her to perform very difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible, illustrations. Click this link http://bit.ly/2ARLuE7 to see Joanna’s magic in action.

The story is told in rhyme. Do you find kids learn language easier with rhymes?

Most definitely! Rhyme is one of the most effective ways to install the love of reading at an early age. It helps keep attention, enhance retention and enrich vocabularies. Children love rhymes because they are musical and amusing and because they help them anticipate what is coming next. The timeless appeal of nursery rhymes, for instance, can be explained by these attributes. The instinct to rhyme was with me from a very early age but, I think, it comes naturally to most children.

What is the next Snowman Paul story you have in the works?

First, I would like to encourage Snowman Paul friends to check out the other nine volumes already published in the Snowman Paul series (https://author.amazon.com/books). But there are many other new adventures in store for Snowman Paul some of which are already written and eagerly awaiting their turn to be published. In addition, Joanna and I are just about to come out with a new picture books series titled “Yara, the Jungle Girl”. If you like Snowman Paul, you are likely to fall in love with Yara!

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

Christmas with Snowman Paul by [Lapid, Yossi]

Join Snowman Paul on this heart-warming and humorous Christmas Eve adventure! 

What would you do if your beloved snowman told you that he feels sad about being left out in the cold while you and your entire family are celebrating a joyous Christmas Eve inside? Can Dan figure out a way to make Snowman Paul’s Christmas just as unique as his? Read this heartwarming and humorous Christmas story to find out 

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Christmas with Snowman Paul

Christmas with Snowman Paul by [Lapid, Yossi]

All Paul wants is to enjoy Christmas with his friend. He watches from the window as his friend eats and plays and sings with his family all winter long. Paul is a snowman, so he can’t go inside, or he will melt. This doesn’t stop him from longing for the companionship of others though. Paul’s friend takes his unhappiness seriously and with the help of his family, they work to come up with a plan to help Paul out.

Yossi Lapid has written an endearing children’s book and Joanna Pasek’s illustrations bring the story to life in a way that will capture the hearts of kids young and old. Christmas with Snowman Paul takes the idea of a snowman coming to life and gives it a different twist from the traditional stories we are used to. While Paul he can play with the kids and family outside in the day, it is not enough for him. He feels lonely and left out. Paul’s friend acts right away to do something to make him feel included. This is a great lesson for kids of all ages. It teaches about people being different, having different needs, and being compassionate. Such a simple story with many great life lessons on how to be a good person.

This would be a great book to kick off the winter season, while it focuses on Christmas it is a good book that could apply to any of the winter holidays.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B076BX4KNQ

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