Not Just for Kids

 Vol. 10, No. 51

December 19-25, 2002

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Christmas Books from Bay Country
Reviewed by Martha Blume

With so many wonderful Christmas books out there for the young and the young-at-heart, how does Santa decide which ones to place under the tree? Perhaps he needs a suggestion: Bring books by Chesapeake Bay area authors to kids who dwell in Bay Country. Santa could simply pick them up at a local bookstore, allowing more room in his sleigh for stash that only his elves at the North Pole can craft. Two new books by local authors arrived on the shelves in time for Christmas this year. Both authors were inspired to write by their own adventures on the Bay.

Firefighter’s Night Before Christmas
by Kimbra Cutlip
Pelican Publishing Co., Inc., Gretna, LA
All ages. $14.95

Pulling the Christmas Eve shift at Firehouse One is an unlucky break for a team of firefighters hoping for a quiet evening. Then an unusual ladder truck shows up with a frosty old firefighter who squeezes down the stove vent and asks for some chili. The firefighters get a call to a fire at a furniture store. Upon their return, they find a shiny new pumper truck and lots of other surprises from the whimsical chili-eating elf.

Kimbra Cutlip’s tribute to our firefighting heroes is the latest in the Night Before Christmas Series, illustrated by James Rice. Once a live-aboard on her sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, Cutlip now resides with her family in Galesville and is associate editor of Weatherwise magazine. She wrote her first children’s book, Sailor’s Night Before Christmas (1999), in answer to the question frequently posed by children about life on a boat, “How does Santa get in?”

Sandra Claus
by Douglas Clark Hollmann
Eumaeus Press, Annapolis
All ages. $19.95

When a little angel brings Santa and Mrs. Claus their most treasured gift, a little girl, they name her Sandra. Alas, though a delightful daughter, Sandra never grows much bigger than the top of Santa’s slipper. Determined to do big things in spite of her size, Sandra befriends a chivalrous mouse named Rudy and a grumpy cat named Axel. Together they convince Santa that animals need a little Christmas too.

Author Douglas Clark Hollmann hails from Annapolis, where he practices law. Sandra Claus is a story he’s wanted to write down for some time. He’s been telling it to his now-grown daughters since they were five and eight. Hollmann told the story to a friend three years ago on a boat trip to Wye Island. The friend encouraged him to publish it.

If you’re still looking, try these older books by local authors:

  • Chita’s Christmas Tree by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, a Baltimore-born African American author who has written nine books based on her family’s stories. (Aladdin Paperbacks: 1993. Ages 4-8, $6.99)

  • The Doggonest Christmas by Richard Lynn Stack, also a Baltimore native and former attorney whose dog Josh inspired several best-selling books, including this tale about a little dog who dreams of being a St. Bernard and gives Santa a hand on Christmas eve. (Windmill Press: 1988. All ages, $16.95)

Kids Stuff

Thursday, December 19
Night Critters
The longest day of the year will soon be upon us. How do the animals get around on such long, dark nights? Play games and make a craft while learning more about nocturnal animals and how our own senses compare to theirs. For ages 3-5. 10 & 2pm @ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. Rsvp: 410/535-5327.

Thru Thursday, December 26
A Christmas Carol
Chesapeake Music Hall’s A Christmas Carol will soon come to an end for the year. Catch it before Thursday, December 26. Tickets are selling out quickly. Doors open 2 hours before the show, 1/2 hour after doors open, buffet will begin. 6pm ThFSa, 12:30pm Su, 11am W @ Chesapeake Music Hall. $30.50 Su-Th, $33.30 F,Sa (kids ages 4-12 get $10 off); rsvp: 800/406-0306.

Sunday, December 22
Skate with Santa
Watch for Santa’s arrival to the roller rink. Then, join him for a skate. Included in admission are door prizes, a raffle, face painting, a slice of pizza, chips and a cookie. Sponsored by Dancers Inc. of Southern Maryland. 4:30pm @ Calvert Skating Rink, Owings. $7 (skate rental additional): 410/867-3277.

Santa’s Holiday Parade
Come out to enjoy this free parade at Horizon Organic Farm, featuring the ever popular Santa, Happy the Cow and other barnyard critters. 6:30pm @ Horizon Organic Farm, Gambrills: 866/343-5802 •

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly