Saturday, July 4, 2015

Book Review: The True Spirit of Christmas by Dorothy Thurgood Manning

The True Spirit of Christmas
By Dorothy Thurgood Manning
Softcover Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: Jan. 14, 2015
ISBN: 9781506021942
Hardcover Publisher: 33 Loretta Kids Books
ISBN: 9780986345401

Amazon Synopsis:

The True Spirit of Christmas is a rhyming picture book geared for children ages 3 to 8. It is about Maddie, a spoiled child who loves Christmas and thinks she knows what it's all about. On Christmas Eve, she confronts Santa over the lack of presents he is leaving under the tree for her. Santa teaches her that the true spirit of Christmas is in giving and not receiving.

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 My Thoughts:

The True Spirit of Christmas is about a little girl named Maddie who loves everything about Christmas from putting up the lights to trimming the tree. The thing she loves most though is getting all those wonderful gifts on Christmas morning – the more gifts, the better. In fact, there can never be enough for her.

Her list of desires is so long that when she goes to see Santa at the mall, you can see the expressions on the children waiting in line for their turn – they are very unhappy with how long it is taking. Even Santa is tired of listening to her.

When it comes to making gifts for others, she doesn’t want to do that because she thinks they are only good for throwing away and of no value to the recipient. She scoffs at the imperfect cookies that her brother makes to leave for Santa.

On Christmas eve, she gets up and finds Santa putting a few gifts under the tree for her and is angry with him because there are only a few. He offers to take them away to give to children who will be thankful and then proceeds to explain to her that Christmas is not about getting, it’s about giving.

When Christmas morning comes and her brother gives her the gift he made for her, she comes to understand by the pleasure on his face that there is joy in giving and not just in getting.

I have to admit, I didn’t like Maddie very much. I found her to be very selfish and greedy. Fortunately by the end of the story she comes to see that there is joy in giving and not just in receiving.

I did not particularly enjoy the ending as I felt it was a little negative. The last stanza reads “Our story ends here. But let me make clear, Other families won’t be so lucky this year….”

The True Spirit of Christmas was also illustrated by the author. The pictures are colourful and detailed. The faces of the adults and children are definitely expressive.

If you are looking for a book that explains what Christmas is about that has no connection to religion of any sort, this might be what you are looking for. Even so, the idea that it is better to give than receive is a belief that is reflected in Acts 20:35 ”remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Overall, I thought that The True Spirit of Christmas was one way to help young children remember that Christmas is about giving rather than receiving. I gave the book 3 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts were my own.

About the Author:

Dorothy Thurgood Manning was born in Boston. Although now living in San Francisco with her husband and sons, she still dreams of a white Christmas. Ms. Manning graduated from Stanford University and received her MFA from California College of the Arts. "The True Spirit of Christmas" is her first print book. Ms. Manning's children's book apps include "Curly Hair, Straight Hair" and "2 Tigers." "Curly Hair, Straight Hair" was listed in the Critics' Picks in iPads section of Kirkus Reviews. You can visit her online at:

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