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01 December 2011

Review: Jingle Bells, How the Holiday Classic Came to Be

I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the Seasons Reading challenge than with a book about a favorite Christmas song.  I know listening to Christmas songs puts me in the holiday spirit, so I hoped that reading about a Christmas song would, too.  So, to kick things off:  Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came To Be by John Harris
Here is the summary from Goodreads:
The unexpected story of the creation of a holiday classic - in the most unlikely of places.It is November 1857 in Savannah, Georgia, and the heat is stifling. Choir director James Lord Pierpont is busy writing a song for the children of the church to perform to usher in the holiday season. He is also worried. Many townspeople are angry because the congregation does not believe in slavery, and someone has thrown a brick through one of the church windows.
As Mr. Pierpont sweeps up the glass from the broken window, he recalls his own Boston childhood, the sound of sleigh bells, and the fun of riding in a sleigh through the snow. Suddenly he gets an idea. A few days later - with the happy sounds of children singing and jingling bells and bags of "snow" - Mr. Pierpont introduces the delighted churchgoers to the charms of a northern Christmas!

I never thought about how our favorite Christmas songs came to be before I read this book.  I knew people wrote them (obviously), but I didn't really think to hard about them.  I guess I figured they just  magically appeared and people started singing them (same with Nursery Rhymes).  It must be especially hard to write Christmas songs when its so warm (I heard rumor that White Christmas was written in July).
I really enjoyed the story.  It was a quick and easy read with a cute ending.  I was a little disappointed to read in the backmatter that people don't really know where the song was written---in Savannah or in Medford, Massachusetts.  I feel that it takes away from the story a little and is based on a lot of "what-ifs".  But, that being said, as long as you understand its a historical fiction account, not fact, its great.  

I will definitely have this book in my classroom library.

Please take a second to check out all the other links on the Seasons Readings page and add your own holiday book review to the list!

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