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

4.7 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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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: 0.2 x 7.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Like so many other children's books, Amazon.com takes a perverse pleasure in lumping together all version's of Dylan Thomas's, "A Child's Christmas In Wales". So if a reviewer, like myself, wants to review the book that was illustrated in 2004 by Chris Raschka, I'd better make it as clear as possible right from the start. So here it goes. Ahem. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it gives me the greatest of pleasure to announce that I will now be reviewing "A Child's Christmas In Wales", penned by the great Dylan Thomas and illustrated with grace, aplomb, and a hint of frenzy by accomplished children's book illustrator Chris Raschka. Thank you.

If you, like myself, have gone most of your natural life in ignorance of this story, I'll try to summarize it here. Problem is, summarizing "A Child's Christmas In Wales" is akin to herding cats. This isn't one of those books with a neat little beginning, middle, and end. There's not what you might call "a plot". If the book is ever summarized anywhere it's simply stated that this is Thomas's reminisces of Christmas when he was a child. In doing so, the poet fills this relatively short work with patches of memory, amazing descriptions, and evocative sentences like, "The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves". If you're looking for a straightforward Christmas tale with characters, a plot, and a point, go get yourself a copy of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and enjoy it. If, on the other hand, you would like to begin a tradition in your family of reading aloud this magnificent and truly beautiful collection of evocative images, this the only place to go.

There is no tradition in my family of listening or reading this story during the holiday time of year.
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