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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Schmantastic List of Fantasy: Fantastic-Schmantastic Holiday Reads!

Happy First Thursday! It's December, which means it's holiday month! I know it's the final day of Hanukkah today, but it's not my fault this whole holiday season is out of whack.
Not a holiday person? Happy Winter Solstice month, my friend. We (the royal We, of course) are very inclusive here at Fantasy-Schmantasy.
Growing up, I remember my favorite part of the holidays was all of the holiday stuff. The cartoons, the music, the decorations, the movies and, yes, the novels. Oh, they exist. So, without further ado, I present you:

The Schmantastic List of 5 Holiday Must-Reads

"But Blog-Lady," you ask. And btw, stop being so impertinent. It's MS. Blog-Lady. "But Ms. Blog-Lady," you ask (much better), "aren't these all going to be kiddie books? Why do I care?" First of all, shame on you for pretending that kiddie books are not awesome. Because they are. Some are about a thousand times better than the typical adult novel. And second of all -- no, they will not be all kiddie books. I'll throw a few grown up ones in just for you, Monsieur Whiny-Pants.

Also, to be up front, I only include items on these lists that I have personally read. Therefore, this list is going to be Christmas-skewed. But keep reading, anyway, it's not all Christmas here!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss

Let's get this list kicked off with a classic, and there's no better classic, in my (humble?) opinion than Dr. Seuss. This story is fun, well told, it rhymes, and the moral is something about the true meaning of Christmas being love and not gifts. Plus, if you're too lazy to read the old cartoon movie is pretty much perfect in every way.

The Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

I think this is the first time Terry Pratchett has made the blog, and that's a damned shame because the entirety of Discworld is amazing and totally fantastic. Basically, The Hogfather (akin to Santa Claus in our world) is put on a hit list and Death has to take over the job. If you haven't read any Discworld, no worries. The novels all work well as stand-alones, so feel free to jump in right here if your holiday spirit so compels you. Otherwise, back up and start with Discworld book #1, The Colour of Magic. And read fast, because The Hogfather is book #20 (with the series currently running around book 40, I believe).

The Christmas Chicken, My Dad

This one is a total cheat. The power of being blog author is that you can't stop me. The Christmas Chicken was a story written by my dad back when big sis and I were wee. He wrote us several stories when we were kids, including my personal favorite at the time "Princess Susan and Dotty Dog" straring myself and our boxer, Dotty. I got to illustrate that one.

 The Christmas Chicken, though, is unarguably the best. I know I must have been about 4, because big sis took the story in for show and tell to her kindergarten class and made some kids cry. The Christmas Chicken was a story my dad wrote and illustrated for us. It's right before Christmas and all of the reindeer should be heading back to the North Pole. Along the way, though, they all meet their unfortunate demise. See illustration above for example of said misfortune. Santa, unsure what to do, remembers the giant chicken that Mrs. Claus has for his Christmas Dinner. He ties the chicken to his sleigh and manages to coerce it into flying by threatening to make it into dinner.

Granted, this story might not suit all children, but big sis and I were pretty much a thousand percent certain we had never heard anything funnier in our lives. The fact that Dad clucked as he put the present under the tree at night only added to the magic. Maybe someday I'll collab with dad to get this down on paper again. (Parents out there, take note. Writing stories for your kids is is the best idea ever).

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

Perhaps the ignorant masses are decrying this choice, "This isn't a holiday book!" Au contraire mon frere. We have now exhausted pretty much my entire French vocabulary. But truthfully, this is a holiday book and a damned good one! Narnia is the land where it is "only winter, never Christmas" and as the children and Aslan begin to set the world right, who should appear but old St. Nick himself? Unlike some holiday stories, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is enjoyable any time of year, but there is some special magic to reading it when it's snowy outside. Go find your old, surely worn down copy and enjoy!

Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris

Confession: I love humorous memoirs. Short stories, or what-have-you. If Bossypants were holiday-themed, it would be right up on the top of the list. If I could work it into every list, I would. Also, go buy Bossypants.

Luckily, there is some holiday fun to be had in the world of humorous memoirs. David Sedaris was my introduction to the whole genre/concept, and he inarguably has the whole thing down to a science. Holidays on Ice, like all of his memoirs, is hysterically funny, at times rather gloomy, and definitely enjoyable.

Wow, Ms. Blog-Lady, this list was really short. Yes, I know. I don't want to inundate you with children's books. But I'd love to hear about what holiday books you enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. The Legend Of The Christmas Chicken By Bruce Chambers ©

    About a week before Christmas,
    Not very long ago,
    A terrible thing happened
    To the man known for his "HO, HO, HO".

    Now don't you fret,
    And don't you fear,
    Santa's alright
    But not his 8 famous reindeer.

    Dasher and Dancer had gone for a trot,
    But they never returned, no they did not.
    Why is that? I don't know the reason,
    Maybe because it was deer hunting season.

    As for Comet and Cupid,
    They were feeling their oats. T
    hey played in the snow
    Without wearing their coats.

    As I'm sure you know,
    That's something you never should do,
    Or you could end up like them,
    Frozen stiff and quite blue.

    Prancer and Vixen went flying in a storm.
    You can be very sure that they stayed quite warm.
    Indeed, they thought that it was very exciting,
    Right up until they were struck by some lightning.

    To stay out of trouble,
    Donner and Blitzen went to the beach,
    But as vacations go,
    This one wasn't' a peach.

    It seems that they decided
    To go for a swim in the dark.
    Unfortunately they ended up
    As dinner for a shark.

    Christmas was approaching,
    It soon would be here,
    And poor Santa was
    Left without any reindeer.

    Could Christmas be saved?
    It didn't look good.
    But if anyone could do it,
    You bet Santa could.

    With a burst of insight,
    Santa ran into the kitchen.
    "Ma", he yelled, "turn off the oven,
    we may need that big chicken".

    He tied that bird to his sleigh
    With a harness of soft felt.
    Climbed into the drivers seat,
    And tightened his seat belt.

    He explained to the chicken
    That it could save Christmas day,
    If only it would carry him
    Up and away.

    The chicken didn't pull, didn't fly,
    Didn't even buck.
    It just looked back and Santa,
    And said, "Pa-cuck?"

    "Please Miss Chicken,
    You must make my sled fly,
    For if you do not,
    Millions of children will cry,"

    The chicken was puzzled,
    And looked around for its flock.
    Then it turned to Santa,
    And plainly said, "Pa-cock."

    Santa got worried,
    This wasn't working out right.
    How do you make a bird understand--
    When it isn't very bright?

    He sat and he thought,
    Growing grimmer and grimmer.
    "Worst of all", said Santa,
    "I'm missing my dinner."

    Santa heard a loud squawk.
    A cloud of feathers flew by,
    And the next thing Santa knew, T
    he sleigh began to fly.

    Santa had found his answer,
    No matter how crude.
    To get that bird moving,
    Remind it that it could be food.

    So if you're up late
    On Christmas Eve this year,
    Keep your ears open,
    And you just may hear.

    A jolly voice,
    Filled will kindness, and soul,
    Reminding his steed,
    That it could be a casserole.