I know that Santa's Twin looks and sounds a little scary for kids (not to mention that it is written by Dean Koontz). Most kids will understand that it is just meant to be a funny joke and the story does end with Bob apologizing and promising to change his ways. My own children thought that Santa's Twin was hysterical. Especially when Bob Claus threatens to:
Have a picnic in the midnight sun;
reindeer pie, pate, reindeer in a bun,
reindeer salad and hot reindeer soup,
oh, all sorts of tasty reindeer goop.
(I think that I have mentioned that my boys are entranced by anything with carnage. Must be a boy thing.)
Now, Dean Koontz is no Dr. Seuss, so the rhyming can be a little clunky in some parts. For the most part, though, Santa's Twin is witty and comical and kids will love looking for the hidden snowmen on every page. Adults familiar with Dean Koontz will get a kick out of clever details like a copy of Mr. Murder on a table and a portrait of Koontz (before the toupee) hanging on a wall.
If reading Santa's Twin becomes a Christmas tradition in your home check out Robot Santa, a second adventure featuring Bob Claus that was published in 2004.
From a very modern picture book to a classic Christmas ghost story, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a holiday staple. Most of us are incredibly familiar with the story of A Christmas Carol,
whether you have watched the 1951 classic movie starring Alistair Sim, Bill Murray's modern spin in Scrooged, or even Mickey's Christmas Carol. In my previous post I wrote about one of my favorite adaptations, The Muppet Christmas Carol. Since we are talking about the spookier side of Christmas let's stick to the original text written by old Boz himself. As the title page to the left states, A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, and it is actually pretty creepy. You have Scrooge who is described as: a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
Then there all of the ghosts. Marley rattling chains and moaning ominously, Ignorance and Want hiding beneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present (I always thought that this part was incredibly disturbing), and the third ghost is pretty much the grim reaper. Add to that the impoverished masses that occupy Victorian London, and who have quite the dark and haunting tale.
Dickens would frequently read an abbreviated version of A Christmas Carol aloud for audiences. The heavily annotated prompt book that Dickens would actually read from is on display at the New York Public Library, but if you are a huge fan of Dickens can buy a copy here.
This podcast features celebrated author, Neil Gaiman, channeling his inner Boz as he reads A Christmas Carol from Dicken's own prompt book. The fact that he dressed in full Victorian garb only makes me adore him more.
I was, am, and probably always will be a nerd (I have accepted it). Anyways, my favorite Christmas gifts were always books and one gift that I remember particularly fondly was a book called Murder for Christmas. I have a penchant for old mysteries and Murder for Christmas is a compilation of 26 stories by such illustrious authors as Agatha Christie, Rex, Stout, Ellery Queen, etc. and, of course, they all take place during the holiday season. What could be more festive then to hunker down in front of a fire with a mug of hot chocolate and read about murder, clues, suspects, and ingenious detectives?
Well, I cannot talk about creepy, scary Christmas stories without mentioning one of my all time favorite movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Is this a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Let's just call it both which makes it even better since it covers two holidays.
I cannot explain how much I adore this fiendishly, magical movie written and directed by the unrivaled king of disturbing weirdness, Tim Burton.
One of the best parts of the movie is when Lock, Shock, and Barrel kidnap the Sandy Claws. Yes, it is totally twisted, but that is what makes it so much fun.
There is a picture book available of The Nightmare Before Christmas featuring Tim Burton's gorgeous artwork.
The artwork of Edward Gorey is very similar to Tim Burton's in that both are macabre and more than a little off-kilter. I don't know what that says about me since I am a huge fan of both.
If you have a sardonic, oddball sense of humor (or know someone who does) you will love The Twelve Terrors of Christmas, written by John Updike and illustrated by Edward Gorey. The text is sarcastic and hilarious and Gorey's bizarre and somewhat ghoulish illustrations are the perfect accompaniment.
Maybe it is not technically a Christmas book, but The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe does have an appearance of Santa. It is also not really all that creepy or scary but, hey, there is a witch.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is by far the most familiar book in The Chronicles of Narnia. The White Witch has cast a spell that causes Narnia to be trapped in a perpetual winter where Christmas never comes. It is only when Aslan returns and the White Witch's power wanes that Santa comes and delivers gifts to the talking animals of Narnia.
I love the image Lewis creates of the lamp post standing amidst the snow covered trees. The crunch of snow underfoot, the flutter of snowflakes on the cheeks. You can feel the icy chill when the Pevensie children step from the wardrobe into Narnia.