Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: Back To Christmas by Dennis Canfield

by Dennis Canfield
Middle Grade Fantasy/Holiday
128 pages
ages 8 and up

An AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award Winner! 

Twelve-year-old Amanda Krumwerth can't believe her eyes or her ears. She's come face-to-face with an elf from the North Pole. And not just any elf; he's Marmel, head of Santa's Department for Labeling Humans Naughty or Nice. Marmel just told Amanda there is not one good quality about anyone in her family, so they are all destined to go onto the Permanent Naughty List. With only two days before the sun sets on Christmas, how can Amanda prove Marmel wrong and save her family from their fate? Find out in this fun new story about the importance of family and the meaning of Christmas..

AudioFile Magazine says "... this quirky and charming Christmas tale is as good as it gets." Amazon, Goodreads & Audible readers agree: "One of the best Christmas stories I've ever read ..." "Fun and magical ..." "Perfect for the entire family ..."

Merry Christmas!


This is a tale of Christmas magic with all of its childish and heart-warming delight.

Marmel is one of Santa's elves, and it's his job to oversee the Naughty and Nice list. This year, thanks to Santa's change of rules, Marmel's only able to convince Santa that one family deserves to be on the list. . .and this family is about to go on the permanent naught list. As is his job, he visits one member of the family, Amanda, and warns her of the predicament. The family still has a chance to thwart their fate, but Marmel knows they can't do it. But what happens next is ready to teach them all a lesson of Christmas joy.

What a fun, whimsical and perfect tale for Christmas! This book held everything to make a great Christmas story and more. The elves and Santa's North Pole atmosphere hold everything they should, while an entire new and delightful world in the South Pole is also introduced. The twist is refreshing and fun without scuffing the traditional magic of the North Pole in any way. Instead, it adds to it.

The real world also comes across as true as it can. Amanda and her family are much like any other family in the United States and suffer problems most modern families do. Kids will recognize the issue right away, and it will even hit home a little bit. Amanda, herself, comes across naughty at first, but the author does a fantastic job of mirroring the goods and bads each of us has in her. Her naughtiness isn't any different than the attitudes present in many today, but that doesn't mean that each and every person doesn't have a warm heart and is actually nice at the same time. It's a wonderful balance!

This story draws in and never lets a moment of boredom seep through. Each page has a sprinkle of Christmas cheer and excitement. And at 128 pages, it isn't too long to bog down more reluctant readers. I recommend this book highly for kids ages 9 and up for a fun, refreshing and still meaningful Christmas read.

And here he is. . .

Dennis is a lifelong Mid-westerner, growing up in suburban Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Commerce and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He and his wife and their two daughters lived in downtown Chicago for fifteen years before moving to the western suburbs several years ago.

His interest in writing started when his older daughter was cast as Wendy in the local community theater's production of Peter Pan. Dennis was the one pulling the ropes to make her fly over the stage. The experience was so much fun, it inspired him to try his hand at writing  a play. But, having no training in writing for the stage, it wasn't long before he decided to start with a book instead, and published the Christmas noveletta, "Silent Night," in 2011. He took what he learned from that experience and wrote the novella, "Back to Christmas," published the following year. Over the next few years, he talked with several professionals who know a lot about writing plays, and now has the book and lyrics for a stage musical version of "Back to Christmas." Most recently, he finished "Ethan and the Key, a full-length middle grade novel.

"I think 'Ethan and the Key' may have been the first story I ever wrote, pre-dating even 'Silent Night.' The original idea for 'Ethan' was based on Puff the Magic Dragon, and told the story of Jackie Paper, now a middle aged- man, being called back to Honah Lee to rescue Puff. But I couldn't find a way to write that story that I liked, so I put is aside for several years and only returned to it in early 2017. Ethan and the Key is quite different from my original vision for the story, but I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

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