Twelve Tales of Christmas by Cathleen Townsend: Book Review

Title: Twelve Tales of Christmas

Author: Cathleen Townsend

Genre: Short stories, Fiction

Synopsis

Christmas isn’t always Jingle Bells and “Ho, ho, ho.” In these Twelve Tales of Christmas, even Santa has to deal with unexpected German shepherds and reindeer who suddenly want to learn the tango. A dryad works feverishly with a teenage boy to save her tree, now in a stand in his living room, and everyone begs Death to hold off for just one more day.

And no one knows what to do with the fire-breathing dragon. He’s not going on the Christmas card list anytime soon.

Come enter worlds of beauty and dread. Join a house hob as he raises his cup of eggnog high, and enjoy yuletide yarns delicious enough to tempt even St. Nick.

Review

The stories in this collection, meant to be a Chritmas vacation read are delightful, surprising and thankfully all positive because no one wants to feel sad in this season. Every story made me smile. Some for the kindness, others for the love. These tales are magical, more than literally so. The language is lovely. The stories touch your heart in unexpected ways. You feel love, empathy, kindness, hope and joy, which is quite a lot for this short and sweet read.

The language is precise, sharp, witty and the stories present different flavours. Christmas makes up the theme and the spirit of the stories but the settings and the protagonists have a lot of variety.

Short and longer stories are mixed together judiciously. There are short bursts of positivity interspersed with longer, deeper ones. The shorter ones usually leave you with a mood and the longer ones with the feel of the characters. At places, the characterisation is surprising and refreshing like Mori and the irritable dragon in the last and the longest story. The narrative voice is very mature and I loved the language. Each story threw up lovely words at me that evoked new feelings.

I really could not decide which were my most favourite stories. Each one seemed better than the last. ‘The Gift’ portrays the mind of an elderly woman so well that the reader is as delighted as the protagonist. I wished ‘Chritmas Tango’ was longer. And ‘Snowflake’ is both poignant and beautiful. These stories tantalise and because they are short, the reader to forced to think up what happens later. ‘Department Store Santa’ shows a world that is hard up. Everyone has troubles but it is possible to forget them in little lovely moments. I loved the sensitivity of ‘The Angel in the Tree’. ‘Dragon Yule’ is a wonderful fantasy read.

This collection is easy enough for a quick read and rich enough to savour. Read it as your mood demands.

Buy this fantastic book here.

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Fairy Tales

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Fairy Tales (photo credit: rak12ela10.wikispaces.com)

Children have a wonderful imagination. They are also very quick learners. In our way of educating them and also to develop their sense of wonder, we introduce them to stories and rhymes; verses and delightful prose.

My little one regularly has storytelling sessions at school. The children also get books that are full of illustrations and a few words, to pique their interest and introduce them to the written word. I myself love to look through these books, to hold the stiff board pages, and turn them awkwardly as any adult would do, used to the thin pages of paperbacks. I pore over the wonderful illustrations, the bright colours, the glitter and the cutouts. I try to imagine myself a little child with a fertile mind, soaking in the colors, the shapes and the textures of the world around him.

Every little thing is magic, from morning till night. Right from the sunlight filtering through the curtains, the bright day, the shining orb called the sun, the blue of the sky, the red of the cereal bowl, the crunchy breakfast, the sweetness of milk, through the day, on and on till it is time for bed and a restful slumber. Ah, what a wonderful world the children live in. Their minds are ready to believe anything and everything. To recreate that lovely world, I like to read fantasy books. Nonsensical verses. Outrageously amazing worlds.

I also sometimes pick up the so called fairy tales. Populated by dragons, stepmothers, ogres, talking animals, wide-eyed children, cruel adults, princes handsome and strong, princesses beautiful and helpless, waiting for a magic spell to be broken, to be rescued by someone. More often than not, I find stories that reinforce stereotypes. And then, I feel afraid of what ideas they give to young minds. Also, more often than not, when I talk to my children and their friends about these stories, I encounter questions about the unjust and unethical behaviour of characters. Why are people cruel? Or why do they steal? Or why do they spy on others? Or why are they greedy?

Give me a tale with imagination any day. Of fantastic characters, strange lands, exciting discoveries. Talking trees, animals and toys. Walking pack of cards. Time travel. Space mysteries. I just want to avoid giving negativity to my children so I sift through the tales that show immorality and falsehood, and by being ready with answers that they can relate to, to explain the behaviour of adults and the real world.