The Paper Bag Christmas
Kevin Alan Milne
Center Street (2008)
Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (11/08)
Do you think Christmas is too commercialized? Do you feel that the true meaning of Christmas gets lost in the hustle and bustle of buying the perfect gifts? Are your kids making out their Christmas lists to be so long and costly that you know they just won’t be satisfied with just a couple of things off the list rather than the whole list?
Young Molar Alan and his older brother Aaron think they are too old to go see Santa. With the insistence of their father claiming that is a tradition worth keeping, the boys go to visit Santa at the mall. They are given a slip of paper to write down what they want for Christmas. Of course, all the latest and greatest toys are named on the list. However, this year “Santa” is different from all the previous years’ Santas. He is a children’s oncologist who has become friends with the boys’ father who is dentist. The two medical professionals come up with a plan to help show the boys why it is wrong to be so materialistic. The boys must come and help as Dr Ringle’s elves at the children’s hospital for the weeks prior to Christmas.
Dr Ringle has a plan which is two-fold. He wants to help the young boys learn the real reasons of Christmas and also bring some sunlight to his young terminally-ill young patients’ lives. Aaron becomes friends with Madhu who desperately needs a transplant, while Alan meets Katrina. Katrina believes that she is ugly and no one would ever want to see her face so she wears a paper bag each time he comes to visit. The Christmas pageant approaches and both children have specific ideas of what part if any they should play. Whoever heard of a fourth wise man or an ugly angel? Molar creates a plan of his own aided by the prettiest girl to make it a Christmas pageant that will never be forgotten.
“The Paper Bag Christmas” is a wonderful book to inspire your holiday season. It will get to you emotionally and move you in a way that you won’t expect. I found myself laughing in some parts especially with the fourth wise man and crying in the emotional and stirring end. You would never guess that Kevin Alan Milne is a first time novelist. I certainly hope he continues to write more books. “The Paper Bag Christmas” could easily become a classic and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it becoming a movie. It’s a terrific story with a lot of meaning and you won’t look at a paper bag the same way again.
Have yourself a wonderful “Paper Bag Christmas!”