Monday, August 28, 2017

Christmas Books--Part 1

In the past two decades researching Christmas films and TV programs, I've spent countless hours in thrift stores and library basements seeking copies of overlooked and forgotten Christmas programs. Along the way, I've stumbled across (1) books that inspired Christmas movies, and (2) books created from Christmas programs. I've grabbed many of them when I found them. Unintentionally, I've accumulated quite a collection. Want to see what I've got?

I have a hardbound copy of the 1970 novel written by Earl Hamner, Jr. that inspired the 1971 TV movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. You can check out my review here. TV fans know that the success of the 1971 Christmas TV movie sparked TV execs to create a TV series about the family depicted in the movie. The result was the nine-season-long family drama The Waltons.

My copy of The Homecoming was signed by the author--purchased when I visited the Walton's Mountain Country Store in Schuyler, Virginia in 2015.

This is a 1995 book published by Scholastic Books. It is a collection of holiday stories taken from Laura Ingalls Wilder's books about nineteenth-century life. These stories share the "Christmas celebrations in the little houses in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, on the Kansas prairie, and on the banks of beautiful Plum Creek in Minnesota." Most of us have seen the Christmas episodes of Little House on the Prairie that drew from Wilder's stories. Check out my review of the 1974 episode "Christmas at Plum Creek," the 1977 episode "Blizzard," and the 1981 episode "A Christmas They Never Forgot."

As I said before, I also have books that were written from the Christmas programs too. I have a copy of the 1974 Scholastic Book version of the 1972 TV movie The House Without a Christmas Tree. Here's my review of that movie again. When I was growing up in the '70s, we eagerly anticipated watching the annual broadcast of the TV movies The Homecoming and The House Without a Christmas Tree. I remain quite nostalgic about both of them.

I even have a 1947 hardbound edition with the dust jacket of Miracle on 34th Street. The Author's Note on the first pages of the book references George Seaton's screenplay and the Twentieth Century-Fox movie. The back cover has quotes from book reviews, and one is written from the Akron Beacon Journal--my current hometown newspaper. So that's kind of charming.

This was the first in my collection of books written about Christmas TV programs. I received this hardbound book as a holiday gift from a good friend in 1990. The book recreates the exact story in The Simpsons half-hour animated special using dialogue and images from 1989's "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire."

Somewhere all the way, I picked up this hardbound book too. It's from 1965 and is a Parents' Magazine READ ALOUD AND EASY READING PROGRAM Selection.

The artwork is amazing! Most of it is original--adapted from the animated TV classic but not identical to what you see onscreen. Love this book.

This is a comic book version of the 1970 animated TV special Christmas Is. The holiday special featuring Benji and his sheep dog Waldo was just one of several animated TV productions created by a Lutheran ministries group. (Do you also remember The City That Forgot About Christmas, Easter Is, and the 4th of July-inspired Freedom Is?).

An inside peek at the 1970 comic book.

I stumbled across this comic book for sale online. I'm not sure the seller knew what it was that he was selling so I was able to purchase it for next to nothing. In my circles, this is a collector's item! I wrote a little bit about this comic here on my blog in 2012.

I also own a copy of the official comic adaptation of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol from Airwave Comics. I'm not sure the year this comic was released but my copy is signed by all four of the artists that worked on it. I acquired my copy from the artist/writer Chris Yambar--a fellow Northeast Ohio resident. The front and back inside covers include a Gerald McBoing Boing recipe for Razzleberry Dressing!

Do you have any books that connect you with Christmas movies or TV programs? I'll share more from my book collection in Part 2--coming later this week.

[See Part 2 HERE]

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701


  1. Replies
    1. Just wait--I have more. Part 2 coming soon. Thanks Jeff :)

  2. Love the book discussion, Joanna...

    A few of my personal favorites:

    * Miracles on Maple Hill - Virginia Sorensen
    * Miracle on 34th Street - Valentine Davies
    * Holidays on Ice - David Sedaris
    * A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

    1. Books related to Christmas specials or movies? I have THE HOMECOMING, THE HOUSE WITHOUT A CHRISTMAS TREE, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, Little House Christmas, the novelization of THE GATHERING, THE MELODEON (which was made into a TV movie with Jason Robards), the "making of" books for RUDOLPH, CHARLIE BROWN, and MR. MAGOO, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES Christmas treasury and also CHRISTMAS WITH ANNE, which has the puffed sleeves story, the annotated A CHRISTMAS CAROL, THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER (a special with Loretta Swit was made from it), a collection of the short stories that made up A CHRISTMAS STORY, A CHRISTMAS MEMORY by Truman Capote, Rick Steves' EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS (a wonderful Christmas special), LASSIE: A CHRISTMAS STORY (based on the classic and on the 1997 LASSIE series), THE LITTLEST ANGEL, RUDOLPH TO THE RESCUE (the official sequel to RUDOLPH by Robert May), and A WISH FOR WINGS THAT WORK (Bloom County). There's also an interesting picture book by Kate DiCamillo called GREAT JOY, a WWII-set story where the beautiful pastel illustrations of the little girl and her mother are based on Karolyn Grimes ("Zuzu") and Maureen O'Hara (Doris Walker).

    2. Linda--your collection is AMAZING!! You put my little collection to shame ;) I see I have a lot more collecting to do!

      The novelization of The Gathering, and The Melodeon (1978's "A Christmas to Remember)--I'm so jealous!! Thanks for sharing :D

    3. Jim--I wasn't sure if anyone else would connect with the Christmas book collecting. Thanks for joining in the discussion!

  3. Awesome collection! We have a collection of Christmas books, as well. Good thing to look for.

    1. Aww thanks Joe. I'm pleased that you collect them as well :D

  4. I usually watch CHRISTMAS IS and THE CITY THAT FORGOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS while I decorate the tree.

    1. I wonder if they ever made a comic book version of "The City That Forgot About Christmas?" Have you seen the others in the series--Easter Is and Freedom Is?

  5. Love these! In addition to Christmas music, I collect Christmas books as well. I have that very Charlie Brown Christmas book, although it's in rough shape, as I got it back about 1970 as a child. I've been looking for Hamner's "The Homecoming" at used book stores, but I'm going to just have to break down and order it online. And I very fondly recall "Christmas Is"! It played every year on TV when I was growing up. Do you know if it's been released on DVD?

    My latest Christmas book acquisition: a hardcover copy of "Christmas in Plains" signed by Jimmy Carter!

    1. YES! You can get "Christmas Is," "City That Forgot About Christmas," and the live-action TV special "Stableboy's Christmas"on amazon under the title "Three Christmas Classics"--they should send me a free copy for shilling for them! These three are packaged together because they were all produced by a Lutheran Ministries group. Thanks for joining the conversation!!