Author of The Christmas Village and Return to Canterbury

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Excerpt from The Christmas Village

Here's another little tease from The Christmas Village...when the village comes to life....

Suddenly Jamie heard whispers. He froze, listening hard. There they were again! His heart beat faster. Was there someone else in the room? 
He heard laughter – a girl’s laughter. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. His eyes searched the room, but he saw no one. More laughter, this time a boy’s. Jamie pulled the quilt aside and placed his stocking feet on the worn Oriental rug. Maybe Grandma and Grandpa’s house has ghosts.
The sounds seemed to come from the direction of the Christmas village. Jamie tiptoed toward the table, his way lit only by the twinkling lights from the Christmas tree. He studied the scene laid out before him, with its tiny cottages nestled in the snow. Something seemed different, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was. Then he heard the voices again, much louder this time.
“Christopher! If you do that again, I’ll … I’ll … I’ll!”
“You’ll what? Tell on me?  Tattletale, tattletale, Kelly is a tattletale!”
Jamie’s jaw dropped and his eyes bulged. He knelt down and brought his face level with the top of the table. The girl skater sat on the ice, her tiny red and white striped legs and white skates protruding beneath her tangled red skirt. The boy skated around her, skidded to a stop and extended a hand. The girl grabbed it and pulled herself to her feet. She brushed bits of snow and ice off her skirt. Shaking a white-gloved finger at the boy, she scolded, “I’ll get even with you, Christopher Franklin Pennysworth, if it’s the last thing I do!”
The boy laughed and skated away. “You’ll have to catch me first!” He took two smooth strides and launched into an impressive double axle that carried him halfway across the pond.
Kelly leaned in and sped after him, her arms swinging from side to side with the aggressiveness of an angry hockey player. Christopher paused to let her catch up. Then, when she was just inches away, he peeled off again. She chased him, huffing and puffing and grabbing at his jacket, never quite able to catch up.

Jamie realized that he was holding his breath. It occurred to him that if he reached out, he could pick up the pocket-sized Kelly and Christopher with his fingers, dangling them like King Kong did in the movies. But he didn’t dare, because something told him not to cross the invisible boundary that separated his world from theirs. So Jamie stayed perfectly still, barely even breathing, afraid that if he moved or made a sound, he would break what seemed to be a spell that had made the village of Canterbury magically come to life.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Jamie suddenly wanted to be alone. He got up, grabbed his jacket from the coat rack by the front door and slipped outside. An almost-full moon lit up the snowy landscape. Wisps of wood smoke from chimneys throughout the village floated like gray ghosts across the clear night sky.
He sat down on the top step, closed his eyes and let his mind wander. He remembered what Rusty had said the other night about hard times showing what people are made of. He thought about the man who had asked them for a dime and about people standing in lines to get bread. He thought about Christopher’s generosity and about the kindness he’d been shown by the people of Canterbury.
Then his thoughts turned to his father. He had begun to understand how his dad might have felt when things went wrong – just like Jamie felt now, scared and not knowing what to do. Jamie thought about his mother, and for the first time, he realized how awful it must have been for her when his dad left, and how hard she had tried to protect him from what had happened. He longed for the sound of her voice and for the chance to rest his head in her lap again.
Jamie looked up at the moon. “I want to go home,” he whispered, “I want to go home so much.” His lower lip quivered. The muscles in his face began to twitch. His body trembled. The first sob was like a hiccup. The second one jerked his head and shoulders. The next one started as a wave in his belly that surged into his chest and flooded his heart with tears. Then wave after wave of sorrow pulsed through him, his whole body shuddering and tears gushing out like water from a geyser.
He wept for his father, who had lacked courage in a time of trouble, for his mother, who had tried to pick up the pieces, and for himself, for being caught in the middle of it all. He wept with frustration for the unfairness of being twelve years old and trying to solve a problem that seemed impossible. He wept with desperation for being far from home and with terror that he would never find his way back. He wept at the thought of never seeing his parents and grandparents again. He wept because he felt like time was running out.

After a long, long time, his sobs ebbed, until they were no longer waves but only ripples. Jamie wiped away his tears with a sleeve. Looking up, he saw a million stars twinkling in the clear night sky. He whispered, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight ….” He stopped, feeling silly for reciting a little kid’s poem about wishing on a star. Well why not? I wished that I could come here and that happened, so why can’t I wish to go back home? He squeezed his eyelids shut and finished,I wish I may, I wish I might … be home for Christmas.”