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Timothy Cratchit's Christmas Carol, 1917: A Sequel to the Charles Dickens Classic Paperback – October 1, 2001
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"A delightful Christmas story. Destined to be a classic." -- Joseph Beth Booksellers December 2000
Sure to satisfy readers who ask the literary "what if". -- Ohioana Library Review Summer 2001
About the Author
Dale Powell is a teacher, author and actor from Ohio. He has travelled the country doing one man shows on Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe. He has been a guest on more than 300 radio and TV programs.
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This sequel lacks the feel and panache of its predecessor. Indeed, this novella is so poorly edited that errors abound, making it seem like a not-ready-for-publication first draft. The list of errors is too extensive to include here in its entirety, but a sampling is in order. There are extraneous and missing quotation marks; paragraphs are not always indented; and the author repeatedly confuses "effect" and "affect."
I have seen worse, but there is a reason editors exist, and Mr. Powell would have been well advised to seek the services of one. One of the wonderful aspects of the original "A Christmas Carol" is the writing itself, from Dickens's exposition on the simile "dead as a doornail" to Scrooge's pun that "[t]here's more of gravy than of grave about" Marley's ghost. Unfortunately, this homage does not begin to approach the polish of the original.
There is also the problem of the political message. Now, it must be admitted at first that Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" was an extremely political book, but Dickens's message was immediately relevant, and it indeed reechoed after the book's publication. Here, however, the ghosts who visit Cratchit are concerned three things: the condition of Blacks and the Jim Crow South, the treatment of Germans in Cincinnati, and the rise of Adolph Hitler. Unlike Dickens, who, save for a brief scene with the Ghost of Christmas Present ("This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want."), made his story deeply personal, Powell takes on much broader themes. There is a personal nexus in that Cratchit's link to Germany is through his German doctor and similar connections for Powell's other concerns, but the issues seem far too forced here. Moreover, if this story is, as others have suggested, for children, the inclusion of Hitler in a Christmas story seems a bit much to ask parents to explain to their charges.
Ultimately, "Timothy Cratchit's Christmas Carol, 1917" seems far more reminiscent of "It's a Wonderful Life" than of "A Christmas Carol" but lacks the emotional punch either. That is not to say there is nothing here; there is. The kernel of a good story is here. It just needs a rewrite and editing. Other books based on "A Christmas Carol" include The Last Christmas of Ebenezer Scrooge: The Sequel to A Christmas Carol,Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol,God Bless Us Every One!: Being an Imagined Sequel to a Christmas Carol, and The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge (among others).
I shall not repeat the points which other 'one star' reviewers made, and with which I heartily concur. The literary style is very poor, the rush of ghosts and their messages more irritating than enlightening, and Timothy Cratchit shows not a hint of the charm of which the original gave promise.
Perhaps because I read it last night, during the middle of August, I found myself dissapointed. There was no snow on the ground, no tree in my living room. No holiday music in the air.
Then again, I don't think it would have mattered that much.
I had heard about this book some time ago, and over time, have kept promising myself to order it. I finally did - and sadly the anticipaton did not match the delivery.
As the other reviewers have stated, this was written by a Middle School teacher who has an affinity towards Dickens. While I cannot claim to have read everything Dickens wrote, like many people, I have a strong love for "A Christmas Carol." Whether you're Catholic, Jewish, etc -- the Carol is a wonderful story that transcends religious beliefs (depsite its Christian overtones) and tells us to hold love in our hearts -- for ourselves and one another.
And I truly believe that is exactly what the author of this sequel was thinking when he wrote this.
Another reviewer said this book was written with children in mind-- if that's the case then I can understand the writing. But at times, I found some of the dialogue weak, even by young adult standards. Also, I'm not the greatest when it comes to grammar, but I spotted more than a few glaring grammatical errors in the course of the tale.
And yes, (as another reviewer said) the political correctness was a bit over the top, as was the author's continued driving of the point regarding Ebeneze Scrooge's redemption. Perhaps I'm in a minority, but I've never forgotten the fact that Scrooge was redeemed at the end of "Carol." As for the PC-ness of the book -- there was nothing wrong with the message(s) that Dale Powell was trying to convey. It just felt like he was trying way too hard to convey it.
There are several other "Christmas Carol" sequels out there -- none of which I have read, but are available here on Amazon, and appear to have rather good reviews. I'm inclined to check some of them out, including "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" and "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge"
I guess ultimately, I'm not saying "Do not read this book," but perhaps explore other options before reading it. Don't expect an absolutely amazing story, but do expect to read something that an individual put a great deal of time, effort and heart into. And for that, I applaud Mr. Powell.
The author (Dale Powell) is a middle school teacher, and this book is written for kids- it is full of history that is craftily woven into the tale. That is part of its brilliance.
Also Powell acknowledges in the preface that he is in no way a Dickens and fully acknowledges his "shortcomings to the master" as he puts it.
I am also a teacher and the author has nothing for which to apologize. He created a great moral tale that my students and I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of my students thought it was better than the original, which is NOT timeless, but laced with antiquity.
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