BOOK REVIEW: The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne

"Somehow, not only for Christmas but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing the poor and lonely and sad, the more of your heart’s possessing returns to you glad."
John Greenleaf Whittier

Kevin Alan Milne's The Paper Bag Christmas has held a spot on my Kindle Wish List for the last year or so, and I so wish I would have added it to my download list sooner because this one...y'all, this one made me cry. We're talking tears-streaming-down-my-face-snotty-nose cry. Though simple in its words; this tale has such a powerful message that our world needs now more than ever. Trust.

Nine-year-old Molar "Mo" Alan and his eleven-year-old brother, Aaron, are convinced that they're too old to believe in Santa Claus. Nevertheless, that doesn't stop them from adding anything and everything to their Christmas lists while waiting in line to see the mall Santa Claus the day after Thanksgiving. The two boys, however, are quickly informed by the mall Santa that they will be receiving none of the items on their hastily scrawled wish lists. Why? Because the mall Santa just so happens to be one Dr. Chris K. Ringle, a pediatric oncologist who has an important job for Mo and Aaron for the holidays: to volunteer in the children's ward acting as his personal elves.

Though the two boys will be visiting all of the children in the ward; each has been given a special assignment. Aaron will buddy up with Madhu, a boy on the organ transplant list who is fast-talking and insatiably curious about Christmas due to the fact that he, himself, is not Christian. Despite his lack of knowledge, Madhu is determined to play a Wise Man in the hospital pageant, and will stop at nothing to succeed.

Mo's charge, however, is a little more difficult. Katrina is a vibrant yet lonely girl who has been severely scarred after multiple surgeries, resulting in her hiding beneath a paper bag, refusing to allow anyone to see who she is. It is up to Mo to bring her out of her solitude, befriending her, and helping her to see the true spirit of Christmas at work.

This is a very quick read, but one that will remain with you long after the final page is turned. Character-driven and brimming with Christmas beauty, The Paper Bag Christmas will become a cherished, read-every-year tome for families. Never preachy or lecture-fueled, The Paper Bag Christmas espouses the importance of kindness, compassion, love, and friendship in the face of differences; while bring forth the fact that the gift of love and friendship is far more important than receiving the hottest new video game or toy for the holidays. Bravo Mr. Milne; I look forward to sharing this one with my family for years to come.

Star Rating: *****


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