A Christmas Carol – The Concert

Every year many families engage in their holiday traditions.  My family is no different.  I have been a public television fan since  Sesame Street and Mister Rogers came on the air.  In the Philadelphia metro region, I have come to look forward to watching holiday shows on my local station, WHYY.  We are Dickens fans and competitively seek the latest or oldest or most unusual retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  My husband is a fan of the ghastly old Jacob Marley and his shackles.

Imagine my delight when I discovered there was a musical version of my fave holiday tale!

A Christmas Carol – The Concert, is the classic Dickens tale performed as a dramatic concert featuring a full symphony orchestra, choir, rhythm section, a Narrator, and three soloists. With a brand new score by Bob Christianson and Alisa Hauser, A Christmas Carol – The Concert has musical styles that range from classical and Broadway, to blues and gospel. Hear and see this classic ghost story as you’ve never heard it before!

I watched A Christmas Carol with trepidation; fearful that my Dickensian fantasies would be torn to shreds by a goofy guitar riff or an unusually uptempo piano beat.

unconventional librarian










I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed! A Christmas Carol – The Concert was everything I’d hoped it would be.  It was the same tale that I loved, married by that magical je ne sais quoi that only public television can provide.  A Christmas Carol certainly should be sung! The full throated narrator (E. Faye Butler) jolts you out of your seat as she introduces the tale.  You are hooked as the performance draws you in.  I didn’t move until Belle (Arya Daire) and Scrooge’s (Michael Aaron Linder) break up scene.  Who knew a break up could be so emotional? I moved to grab tissues; I knew I would need more.

And I did need more tissues.  Even though we all know the story of poor little Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit’s (one of many roles played by the talented Scott Coulter) beautiful ode to his son left me weeping and cursing old miserly Scrooge. Even though we all know how A Christmas Carol ends, isn’t it grand to see the old miser’s face wake up and realize he’s gotten a chance at redemption?

Yes it is. It is quite grand.

And so is this musical performance.  Start to finish the concert kept me entertained and will be part of my holiday tradition in the future.

Now I want a sparkly jacket like the orchestra conductor (Amy Duran) and I want to learn to speak as majestically as The Narrator.    In fact, I may practice on everyone I meet.

After I watch A Christmas Carol – The Concert one more time.

A Christmas Carol – The Concert airs December 22, check your local TV listings.  Come back and tell me how you loved it!



Walking in the air for another bloomin’ Christmas! Five Classic Christmas books for kids

Christmas is just over a month away now and some people might even have started on their Christmas shopping already! Whether you’re a super-organised Christmas shopper or not though, you might want to start considering what everyone in your family will be getting on Christmas morning.

If you have kids, there could be no better present for them to rip the wrapping paper off on Christmas Day than some fantastic new books than can keep them going throughout 2013. If you want to make sure their gifts tie-in with the season as well, you could select from our top five list of classic Christmas books for kids:

 A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens will forever hold the title of the best children’s Christmas book with ‘A Christmas Carol’. We all know the tale of the moneygrubbing Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future on Christmas Eve, and wakes on Christmas Morning a changed man. There are simplified versions of the book for younger readers, or you might want to give older children a copy of the full text so that they can read it all by themselves. The book also teaches an important lesson that kids can learn from – money doesn’t buy happiness, and people should always treat others how they would like to be treated.

The Night Before Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore’s beautiful poem describing the night before Christmas is one many people will be familiar with. The opening lines of the poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house/Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ instantly draw readers into the lengthy poem, and kids especially will be rapt by the depiction of Father Christmas flying through the skies on his magical reindeer-drawn sleigh on Christmas Eve. If you want your kids to be able to enjoy the amazing atmosphere of Christmas, get this book for them!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr Suess is one of the best children’s authors in history, writing quirky and child-friendly poems about all manner of things. ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is a fantastic children’s book for the Christmas season and is sure to delight kids all through the year. The Grinch is a creature living in a cave above the town of Whoville where the Whos live. These merry creatures love Christmas, but the Grinch is constantly annoyed by the sounds of their festivities. To stop them from any more merrymaking, the Grinch sneaks into the town in the dead of night and steals all of their Christmas presents and other Christmassy items, but the Whos are still able to enjoy an excellent Christmas even without these material things. In the end, the Grinch is won over by the Whos and is welcomed into their friendly community, despite what he’s done.


Everyone’s heard the Christmas carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and this book by Geraldine McCaughrean gives kids the story behind this famous carol. It explains how Good King Wenceslas gave money and food to the poor on Boxing Day, and his many other noble feats during the Christmas season.

The Snowman

This book by Raymond Briggs is perfect for kids that haven’t yet learnt to read, as it’s completely wordless. Parents can work through the book with their kids by pointing at the beautiful illustrations explaining what they mean. The book tells the story of a boy who builds a snowman which then comes to life. Thrilled, the boy shows the snowman around his house and then the snowman takes him on a magical adventure, flying through the skies. A must for any imaginative children!



This post was contributed by Julia Stanley a freelance writer and read-a-holic who loves to buy great fiction online as it allows them to find the best fiction books at cheap prices.