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Christmas at Eagle Pond Hardcover – November 20, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547581483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547581484
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Twelve-year-old Donnie spends Christmas 1940 at his grandparents’ farm. His mother is recovering from surgery rapidly, so he and her parents don’t fret as they observe the holiday. They go to church two nights before Christmas, where preteens and early teens perform seasonal music and poems, and the little kids enact the Christmas story. Relatives come for the eve and the day—Grandma’s much-elder brother and Donnie’s mother’s unmarried sister—and a few friends join them for midday Christmas dinner. Stories are told, especially about the most recently departed, until they notice it’s snowing heavily. Will Donnie be able to take the train back to a delayed second Christmas at home? The ordinary, everyday routines of a small dairy farm, in which Donnie helps now Grandpa, now Grandma, surround the familiar holiday plot, and drawings by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian decorate sublimely. The little book is completely truthful, though poet and former poet-laureate Hall really never spent Christmas with his grandparents. It was the gift he never received, so he gives it to himself and, as an evergreen delight, to readers. --Ray Olson

About the Author

Donald Hall, who served as poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president.



Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener and a skilled and original woodblock artist. Many of her prints are heavily influenced by her love of gardening, and her turn-of-the-century farmhouse is surrounded by gardens that reveal an artist's vision. Mary Azarian received the 1999 Caldecott Medal for SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. She lives, skis, and gardens in Vermont.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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That made it the perfect Christmas read.
Jina
The story does not suffer without the color, it's just that the cover includes color and it adds a wonderful warmth and almost dreamy quality to the illustrations.
amazonbuyer
This might be a wonderful book to give to someone dear to you.
Robert B. Richey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven Schwartz VINE VOICE on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ostensibly about a Christmas Donald Hall spent at his grandparents' New England farm in 1940, the book at first reads like a Yankee version of Dylan Thomas's Child's Christmas in Wales. Hall, not only a fine poet, has over the years written wonderful prose as well, and this slim chapbook adds to his credit. He lingers over lost objects like the large tube radio, the party-line crank phone, the ancient farm equipment. He tells stories about long-dead family members, often without you realizing it, since he uses them to illuminate what seems the point of the moment. He creates large set pieces about Christmas parties, family dinners, and snow-bound days.

All of this could easily degenerate into mere list-making and sentimental longing for the past, but somehow it never does. Instead, you feel tied by a strong thread of continuity from the past. Yet, it's the "Author's Note" at the end of the book that made the biggest impression upon me. The Christmas Hall spent with his grandparents never happened. He visited them in summers. Many of the memories he poses as his happened to other people, mainly his mother. This really is, as the cover modestly says, "A Story by Donald Hall." The book becomes something more than an "ubi sunt" for an old way of life and more an attempt to strengthen meaningful attachments to people in his life who mattered to him, who have been reduced to memories. The prose is clear, straightforward, and free of "poetic" goop. It's as beautiful as a farmhouse table.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dunyazad VINE VOICE on October 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love historical winter settings, so I was prepared to love this short story. It's a combination of fiction and memoir: Eagle Pond is a real place, where the author visited his grandparents as a child and lives now as a old man himself, but he never actually spent a childhood Christmas there. In this book, he invents the experience that he always wanted. He takes the train out to the farm a few days before Christmas, and experiences the church Christmas celebration and Christmas day dinner with family. The descriptions of the place are vivid and interesting, especially in the details of how modernity has affected the town and the farm. The story is set in the 1940s, and I appreciated hearing about how the town has all but vanished, how the elderly relatives were uncomfortable using a telephone, and similar details. The plot, though, leaves something to be desired. It's really not much of a plot at all; there's no major conflict or tension, no difficult decision, no character development or surprising event. The book is a simple reflection on a time and place. Depending on your preferences, this may or may not be what you're looking for. It's an extremely short book, and I have no regrets about the time I spent on it, but I personally would have liked just a little bit more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glynn Young VINE VOICE on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the best memories I have is of visiting my paternal grandmother in Shreveport, La. I called her Gram; everybody called her Gram except my father and his three sisters. To them she was "Mom." Sixty-two when I was born, she lived in a two-bedroom frame house built by my grandfather with some help from my father. To visit her on my own, as I did from the time I was 7 or 8 until I was 14, was to experience the magic of a loving grandmother. My grandfather had died when I was nine months old, but his memory was part of the magic.

Donald Hall is a former poet laureate of the United States, recipient of all kinds of literary awards, and author of 16 books of poetry and 15 prose works. He had a Gram, too, and she lived with his grandfather in his favorite place in the world, a farm called Eagle Pond in rural New Hampshire. It's where Hall himself, now 84, lives today. In "Eagle Pond," published in 2007, Hall reflects on the farm, on change, on his family and on the nature of place.

The one thing Hall never did was to spend Christmas with his grandparents. And so he's written himself a fictional memory that could easily be non-fictional. And he's called it "Christmas at Eagle Pond."

It's December, 1940. War is raging in Europe; even in rural New Hampshire they know London is undergoing a daily bombing blitz. Donnie, a 12-year-old boy and only child, is traveling to spend Christmas with his grandparents at their farm in New Hampshire. His mother is recuperating in the hospital from surgery (they did that back then), and Christmas is going to be spare and lonely if he stays in Connecticut. So he's traveling by train to Boston, and then on to Gale, the closest station to Eagle Pond Farm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Mann VINE VOICE on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At the end of this slender book is an author's note, one that I think should be at the beginning. In that note, author Donald Hall writes that the story is fictional, that he never spent a Christmas at Eagle Pond: "In this book, I have given myself the thing I most wanted, a boyhood Christmas at Eagle Pond Farm." That pretty well sums it up.

The first-person narrator, a twelve-year-old boy, travels to his grandparents' farm in Maine for Christmas. It is 1940, and the details of that year seem precise. There isn't much more to the story, for "Christmas at Eagle Pond" is not a story driven by conflict or plot. It is, instead, simply the account of a Christmas the author wishes he could have spend, and therefore, its effectiveness hinges on the telling rather than on the story itself. And the telling--that is to say, the writing--is simple and unaffected, letting the feel of 1940's Maine in December come through.

I'm thoroughly an adult, but I suspect that children would enjoy this tale as well. They might, in fact, find eye-opening the idea of bananas and poetry as Christmas gifts. I don't mean to suggest that children will flock to this the way they do to Harry Potter, but sometimes a simple, unaffected, and eminently sincere story can be just as effective, and Mr. Hall's Christmas story is just that sort of story.
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