Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mom & Son Book Club #14: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol: Special Edition
by Charles Dickens
additional material by Stephen Skelton

124 pages

original story published in 1843

I am thrilled to say that I read this entire short story to Kiddo in the original (old-fashioned language and all) and that we both loved it - yay!

*** My Thoughts ***

I remember loving this book when I read it years ago, and I've been wanting to read it to Kiddo for quite some time. I made it one of my goals this holiday season so I'm doubly thrilled to have met that goal AND enjoyed the whole process.

We took about two weeks to read this book despite the very short length. That's because we've been so busy with Kiddo's surgery and the holidays that time kept getting away from us. Plus I had to stop often in my reading to explain things to Kiddo; Dickens is one wordy guy and although Kiddo was paying close attention, he didn't always understand what was going on. So my reading pace was slower than usual but we did finally make it to the end.

(As a side note, my mother-in-law offered me her copy of the book which was rewritten to be more accessible to children. I didn't take it, because I wanted Kiddo to be exposed to the original. And I'm so glad that I stuck with it. In the end, Kiddo said that the old-fashioned language didn't bother him at all and that he really enjoyed the story.)

My opinion? "I love this story and I think everyone should read it at least once. It will restore your faith in humanity and help you keep the Christmas spirit all year round."

Kiddo's opinion? "I liked it!"

*** Mom & Son Book Club Questions ***

Did you like this book? Yes, but there were good parts and bad parts. [Mom's note: After much discussion, I realized the "bad" parts were those times when he was really bothered by the characters' actions.]

What was your favorite part? When Scrooge gave Bob Cratchitt a raise. And when Tiny Tim said "God bless us, every one." [Mom's note: Kiddo also pointed out that in the Mickey version, Scrooge makes Bob his partner, but that it doesn't happen in the book. Kiddo wasn't happy about that or that Scrooge didn't bring toys to the Cratchitt house, as those are his favorite parts of Mickey's A Christmas Carol.]

What was your least favorite part? When the people stole Scrooge's stuff after he died - that was so mean! [Mom's note: Kiddo was REALLY bothered by this whole section. It was worse for him than the creepiness of the Spirit of Christmas Future or of Scrooge being dead.]

Would you recommend this book to your friends? No, because it might scare them and they might not understand it. Did it scare you? No. Did you understand it? Yes. So you're saying that you're smarter than all your friends? [Here Kiddo started smirking slightly.] Well, a little ...

*** Other Thoughts ***

One of the reasons I wanted to read this with Kiddo was to prepare him for the Disney version that is in theaters now. He loves Mickey's A Christmas Carol, but I'd heard that the Jim Carey version was a bit more intense and I wanted to be sure he wouldn't be scared by the images that go with the Ghost of Christmas Future. Now that we've read it, we're ready to see the film. I just hope there is time before - or right after - Christmas!

*** About This Version ***

The version of the book I read is pictured above and is a new release this year. It includes a TON of annotations that illustrate Dickens' many Biblical references in the story. It also includes discussion questions that could be used with a Bible study group or for family discussion.

In reading this book to Kiddo, I chose to read him the story only. After we finished the story, I went back and read all the annotations and discussion questions on my own. I LOVED the annotations! In fact, I wish I'd read them before reading the story to Kiddo; they would have helped me to explain some of the sections better. And although I didn't use the discussion questions, I can see that they would be a great basis for a fun and insightful group discussion of this book.

Here's a video that shows you some of the pages inside and give you a better idea of what this version of the book is all about.

Thank you to the publicist for sending me a copy of this book; I was planning to read this story during December anyway, so the book arrived at the perfect time. And this version was a real treat, one that has gained a place in my permanent collection.

*** Your Thoughts ***

I KNOW that many of you have read this ... so where are all your posts?! I certainly can't find them. Here are two reviews that I DID find:
  • Wordsmithonia read it for the 1st time and really appreciated Scrooge's character, more so than in the movie versions.
  • Library Dad also appreciated the written version more than the Hollywood versions.
I'd love you include yours here - just link to it in the comments!


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have A Christmas Carol on audio and I want to see how it compares to the movies. It sounds as if you and kiddo had a wonderful time reading this one. He is too funny thinking he is smarter than the other kids. Wise observation!

Amanda said...

I read this pretty recently and have been meaning to post a review. I love yours! It's so cool that kiddo liked and understood it. I think reading out loud probably helps. I have to say my favorite on screen version is the Muppets one. Love it.

bermudaonion said...

I think you were right to expose Kiddo to the book in the original language. I love that he thinks his friends might not understand it!!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Nicole - I'd think the audio would be really good. Will you be listening to it before Christmas, or is that a project for next year?

Amanda - I did stop many times to make sure Kiddo knew what was going on, so it seems that helped! And I love the Muppets version too. :)

bermudaonion - Thanks! Although I AM worried that Kiddo is too smart for his own good ... ~LOL~

Michelle said...

HA! I love that kiddo basically toots his own horn about intellect! LOL

Ti said...

I've read this many times but I don't own a nice copy of my own.

My daughter's babysitter gave us a children's book of all of Dickens' stories and it just doesn't have the same feel to it.

BTW, tell Kiddo that his groupies are itching for another video soon.

Neil Richard said...

Thanks for the link and yes, I enjoyed the written version more than the other versions I've seen or listened to. My wife got an audio version read by Jim Dale (the guy that reads the Harry Potter books) and it was odd because the whole time I was expecting Harry to turn up.

Anyway, sounds like you had a fun time reading it with Kiddo.

Ryan said...

Thanks for linking. I chuckled a little with Kiddo's response about being smarter. My son thinks about the same way. Glad he liked it, we are probably watching the Flintstone's Christmas Carol tonight.

Anonymous said...

I like this idea of sharing classics with children - classics in the original (assuming it's English), rather than talking down to the child. Explaining things is fine, skimming over potentially complex or awkward passages is best avoided if possible. It also introduces some new words, some of them archaic and delicious, into the young vocabulary. (And mine.)
Good tip about reading the footnotes first. How else to keep ahead of a brainy child - like your kiddo seems to be.
I'm currently keeping an eye out for Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - in English translation. I was originally going for a cartoon version, but now - thanks to your post - I'll choose the full-on adult prose.
It's a great story - and I also enjoyed the Jean Paul belmondo film version.
(PS - I've just, after some hmming and hawing, posted the opening lines of my own book at Yes, I admit it, anxiously fishing for feedback.)

Margot said...

I'm glad to hear you read Christmas Carol to your son. I did the same with my kids and it became a tradition. Some years we watched various movie versions and once we went to a beautiful play. My kids are all grown now but they remember all versions of the story. Their favorite? The original language read aloud, taking turns reading it. Thanks for bringing badk a great memory.

Robin M said...

Have it but just haven't started reading it yet. Guess that's my next book to read seeing as Christmas is two days away. Thanks for the mom-son review. Enjoyed it.

Rebecca Reid said...

I love this book. good for you for not expecting your kid to read a dumbed down version! I think this is one that kids can access pretty easily.

Interesting comments about him being upset about that particular scene. I think I was more scared by the ghost of the future when I was a kid. We had a great movie of it though, and I think acted out that ghost is pretty scary.

I've heard that the Jim Carry movie is awful and that kids are scared. I hope that is not the case for your little one! (Of course, I'm a non-fan of Jim Carry so I won't watch it to begin with!)

Anonymous said...

I've never read it, but I did finish the audio this morning (Tim Curry narrated it) and it was fabulous.

Happy holidays!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Michelle - Yeah, Kiddo's GREAT at tooting his own horn. :/

Ti - I told him, and he got a kick out of it! I do have some non-bookish videos I'm planning to post - hopefully I'll get them up over the holidays.

TK42ONE - You're welcome! And hey, did you realize that Jim Dale was Doc Terminus in Pete's Dragon?! (I mention that every time his names comes up - I love that guy!)

Ryan G - Oh I'm SURE our boys would have lots in common. ;)

blackwatertown - Thanks for the encouragement - I do plan to read more classics with Kiddo in the future. And now I'm off to read your opening lines ...

Margot - What a wonderful tradition! I hope Kiddo remembers things like this as he grows up.

Robin - I hope you can finish it before Friday!

Rebecca - I'd heard that the movie was intense, hence the decision to read the book first; I think Kiddo can handle it ... at least, I HOPE so ...

softdrink - You already know I love audio, so I'm SURE the version you listened to was perfect. Merry Christmas to you too!

Gina said...

So glad to hear that "mom and Kiddo" liked it! The original text is different from many of the versions we are all more familiar with. Same basic concept and principles, yet a varied storyline (read as CREEPIER). The Jim Carey version is actually VERY close to the original so there won't be too many surprises there (I did see it and it definitely gets my vote).

Here is the link to my review of this title from earlier this month:

Happy holidays....and happy reading!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment on my opening lines. Crunch time on sending it out to people is approaching.

Literary Feline said...

I am so glad you had the opportunity to share this with your son, Heather. I read this story for the first time this year and can't believe I waited so long. It's such a great story--and so beautifully written. The copy you read from sounds like a worthwhile one to have. I'll have to look for it.

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