Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas Chronicles, by Jeff Guinn

For the Holidays, I read The Autobiography of Santa Clause in The Christmas Chronicles by Jeff Guinn. The Chronicles are a collection of three books that also contain How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas and The Great Santa Search. Guinn writes three humorous 1st person narratives of the history of Christmas.

Guinn did excellent research in writing the stories, and provides a historical perspective on Christmas from about 30 A.D. to the present. He introduces us to famous and influential figures along the way. I found the early sections of Santa’s autobiography especially interesting when he tells us about Christmas and Christianity during the Roman Empire.

I also liked the way Guinn intertwined famous characters, writers and other Christmas stories into his tale. We get to meet King Arthur, Attila the Hun, Ben Franklin, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Santa Claus helps Charles Dickens write A Christmas Carol. Guinn also shows the influence of Washington Irving and Clement Clarke Moore in shaping the legend of Santa Claus in the United States. However it wasn’t until Thomas Nast’s artwork that we got our visual image of Santa Claus.

Overall I enjoyed the Autobiography of Santa Claus, but the story could have been improved by the pace and tone. To quote the writer’s mantra, “Show, don’t tell.” In my opinion, Guinn did too much telling. The book had too much first this happened, next we did this and so on. He used a lot of passive voice in the telling. A few more action verbs would have improved the story.

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