Friday, November 23, 2012

When the Thanksgiving feast has been digested and the weather begins to turn crisp, our family begins the annual Kringle read-aloud! Does yours?

Here's a nice note from a Kringle-friendly family:

Dear Mr. Abbott,
My sons and I were given your book Kringle three years ago. There was
a power outage that lasted almost three days, so I read Kringle aloud
to them. They loved it. Every year since we have read it aloud
together. I want to thank you for the wonderful holiday memories that
your beautiful story has and will continue to give us.

My oldest son is 12 1/2, my second son is 11 and my youngest son is 4.
They brought me the book the first week of December to start reading
to them. They send along their thanks as well.

Thank you again for the magic of your story.

best wishes

Trish, Christopher, Edward and Alexander

Friday, June 1, 2012

REVIEWS OF KRINGLE (Scholastic, Inc., 2005)

"Darkness lurks outside twelve-year-old Kringle's forest hut, the darkness of winter and of the goblins who pursue him. As the Romans withdraw from Britain and Norse invaders approach, the goblins kidnap children to power the mysterious 'Grunding,' a war machine with which they plan to take over the world. Thrust into the role of rescuer, Kringle enlists the help of elves, 'pirates' (Norsemen), and even reindeer as he travels north to confront the evil menace. Readers are hearing about Santa Claus, of course, but a Santa far removed from the commercial cliche. Abbott, author of the popular series Secrets of Droon, reimagines the old elf in a fresh and invigorating way. Like the archetypal hero, Kringle begins as a naïve boy and grows into his role. Familiar elements of the Christmas story -- the elves, the sleigh, the North Pole home -- fit convincingly into the book's internal logic. There are battles and blood, but the gentle narration of old Brother Alban balances these with incidents of goodness and compassion. Alban teaches Kringle about the Christ Child, so that, without a hint of preachiness, the religious significance of the season is integrated into the story. The plot could use some tightening, but that is a minor quibble. The book will have wide appeal for fantasy lovers and Narnia fans as well as seasonal browsers attracted by a beautiful cover and classy, gold-edged pages. Public libraries especially will want multiple copies of what should become a holiday family classic. --VOYA

"In northern Britain in the early fifth century, a boy named Kringle and an old woman named Merwen live in an isolated cottage. When they are attacked by goblins, Kringle runs away, meets friendly shoe-repairing elves and pirates, and above all makes it his mission to rescue Merwen and hundreds of children. This fantasy combines magic (elven runes and flying reindeer), history (the end of the Roman occupation figures prominently, as does a certain Brother Alban), theology (Kringle is fascinated to learn about baby Jesus and his family), and a good dose of imagination to come up with a delightful explanation of the origins of our present-day Santa Claus. Fantasy readers will enjoy this tale year-round, despite the reindeer and holly on the cover. --School Library Journal


"Do you like tales of winter, ice, magic, goblins and things mysterious? Have you ever wondered why one of Santa's names was Kringle? Then Kringle by Tony Abbott will be the book for you. Kringle is orphaned at birth and named for the sound made when a sparrow's wing struck a bell. He is protected for 12 years by Merwen until one night the goblins come looking for children. What follows is an adventure -- from Kringle surviving on his own to acquiring one by one his band of elves, his sleigh and flying reindeer. With the help of a priest (who's really a wizard) and a stone that makes time stand still, and other unlikely helpers, Kringle finds his true calling in life. --Christy Dixon, Abingdon Public Library

"With its gilt edged pages and colorfully illustrated cover, anyone would pick up this fresh treatment of the Christmas story. Kringle is the name of a 12-year-old boy living at the time of the Roman departure from England. The life of the time is nasty, brutish and short, and is helped not a bit by the goblin king's desire to own all of the elves' rune stones which are, of course, magic. The story pulls together a number of elements of the lore of Christmas as we celebrate it today -- Santa's elves, flying reindeer, sleigh, his interest in giving toys to children -- and weave it into an action adventure. The author weaves in some Roman priest's story about the Christ child, but it's clear that his view of the primary motivating factor in the winter celebration has to do with the climate of the North. Told like a bedtime story, the narrative is sometimes telegraphic, but it works and the reader will feel compelled to find out how the story ends."  --from

"Already well known for his 'Droon' series, Tony Abbott was asked by his editor to write something 'big.' His editor should be extremely well pleased. This tale could easily be dismissed as yet another history of Santa Claus but it is much more and a good read to boot. Set in the fifth century AD, the Romans are leaving the country and dark times are descending upon the people of the hedges, wood, and hills. The story begins in an isolated hut with an orphaned boy hearing, yet again, the story of his own birth and naming. As he was born a sparrow appeared with a small bell which it leaves behind. The sound of the bell becomes Kringle's very name and we know that he has a very special destiny. Relying on lots of research the author adroitly weaves together many traditional ideas about Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Sinterklass, etc., but he expands the story with incredible insight while creating a truly mythic hero. All of the elements are here for those hungry for tales of goblins (hideously ugly and truly evil), elves (committed to helping humans and have been repairing shoes during the night for centuries-you can guess their role), pirates (Viking invaders), magical animals (some can fly -- you know which ones -- some can talk, some will fetch food for humans), soldiers (the people do try to defend their homes) and a brave, plucky boy with an insight far greater than even he knows as he sets out on a journey that will give him a place in the hearts of children forever. The long, dangerous quest to rescue his beloved guardian involves Kringle in daring exploits of mountain climbing, fighting with the evil goblins, rescuing an entire race of elves, and creating a 'flying sledge.' His innate goodness is bolstered by the magic imbued in his being by the deeds of his parents on behalf of 'the good.' Kind, generous behavior is rewarded by forces that work for good in the world and Kringle is part of that magic as he finds a way to defeat the goblins and even to make time stand still -- thus accounting for all that work in just one night. Nature and all of its forces aid Kringle along the way but it is his truly good heart and brave soul that wins the day -- with a little help from his stalwart supporters who stand by him every inch of the way. Only a character of great personal strength and charisma could engender such faithfulness and Kringle is just that character. Guess you figured out that I loved this one. Readers will enjoy identifying and recognizing how the various explanations of the myth are presented as a natural part of this magical story."  --Sheilah Egan, Children's Literature