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A Child's Christmas in Wales (Godine Storyteller) Hardcover – December 1, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up–Raschka's illustrations will surely enhance children's enjoyment of this nostalgic, bittersweet memoir. Executed in ink, torn paper, and gouache on sensuously textured paper, they are full of tiny details that beg for closer inspection. Some libraries may still have copies illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg (New Directions, 1997), Edward Ardizzone (Godine, 1980), or Trina Schart Hyman (Holiday, 1985). Of these earlier editions, Hyman's probably succeeds best at capturing the story's time and place. Raschka, however, finds the universal elements that a contemporary child can relate to–the eccentric aunts, the joy of pretending to smoke candy cigarettes, the classification of gifts into "Useful Presents" and "Useless Presents." This is a handsome book that most libraries will want.–V. W.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

The texture of the engravings has an almost tactile vibrancy. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Godine Storyteller
  • Hardcover: 45 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine; First American Edition edition (December 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780879233396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879233396
  • ASIN: 0879233397
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on December 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is as nice an edition of Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales" as it is possible to imagine. It is beautifully laid out, in a wide children's picture-book format, with colorful and evocative paintings by illustrator Christopher Raschka.

If you've never encountered Dylan Thomas' vision of his childhood Christmas in Wales before, you're in for a real treat. Boys chase each other through the snow; uncles repair to the drawing room lighting pipes; aunts offer Useless Presents such as mufflers long enough to swing from, and my favorite - the Prothero family's house starts to go on fire, which the gaggle of boys attempts to extinguish with snowballs.

It's clear that a poet wrote this; every word counts not just in the mental images it provokes but also in its glorious SOUND - please try reading it out loud; it is positively musical.

But - I confess the current edition seems mismarketed to me. It's not really a children's book, although older children, at least, may enjoy having it read to them. The picture-book format (and the above product info's insistence that the reading level is "4 to 8 years") might make you, the reader, think of it as a good Christmas present for the pre-school set. But the language is dense and unfamiliar to little ones (the uncles smokes 'briars' not pipes), and the text is longer than a little kid will sit still for (my 5-year-old for example).

I read it to my very attentive 10-year-old as well, and even he had trouble grasping all Thomas' delicious and metaphorical language.

So buy it; read it out loud to yourself in front of an evening fireplace, and Merry Christmas to you all.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Dylan Thomas' imagery and prose invoke the secular feelings of Christmas like no other book. His floating word-pictures are both vague and precise, inviting the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. Thomas creates the sensations of memory--blurred, idiosyncratic, and suffused with impression:
"There were church bells, too"
"Inside them?"
"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea."
Fortunately, the dreamlike imagery never weighs down the book. Instead, Thomas wishes only to convey the warmth, humor, and imagination of his childhood Christmases in Wales. Although this is great modernist literature, it is completely unpretentious and can be enjoyed by all ages. The book seems longer than it is, perhaps because Thomas' depictions linger warmly after one reads about the Christmas fire, the smoking Uncles and drinking aunts, the presents ("...and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow"), the dinner, the caroling at the large strange house where "the wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men in caves," the music, and the soft bedtime.
These episodes are generally no longer than a page each, but they graft onto our own memories--or would-be memories--of what Christmas could or should be like. In sum, it's a pleasure for the both the intellect and the senses, an unsentimental yet warm treat for both young and older audiences. It's one of the truest--and therefore most satisfying--Christmas books you'll ever read.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Waldrop on October 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Scaring sleeping uncles by popping balloons. Getting a hatchet by mistake. Snowballing cats. Dylan Thomas has captured the perfect Christmas. Without any moral, very little plot, and a concern only for the child's perspective, this little piece sticks in my mind better than any other Christmas story I've ever read. Between drunk Auntie Hannah singing in the backyard and the haunted house down the streets where a group of mischievous carollers get the living hell scared out of them, "A Child's Christmas in Wales" is everything Christmas should be: funny, happy, poignant, a little sad, and fattening. Keep a bowl of candy nearby when you read it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on December 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The poetry background of Dylan Thomas gives these reminiscences a certain lyrical quality:
Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."
"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."
And they are wonderfully evocative of his Welsh youth.
But for me they also evoked another memory, of a trip that Bud Rouse and I made up to Saratoga. We visited friends of his who worked at the track and had a horse of their own (Double Russian was the name, if memory serves). We had fun at the races, hanging on the far side with all the Hispanic groomsmen and walkers and cussing out prima donna jockeys. And after dinner and a few frosties that night, our host took down a collection of Dylan Thomas poems and we took turns reading them aloud.
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