The Shepherd, The Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Description: It's 1960 and time for the annual Christmas pageant at St. John's Episcopal Church. This year Doug Barnes gets to be a Shepherd which is better than the Three King he was last year because you get to carry a stick. Unfortunately Mrs. Elkins takes this pageant very seriously and Judy Flanders, the girl who Doug has a crush on is Mary opposite the coolest boy in school. There's also car ants, Frank and his squirrel tendencies, Walter, and a whole lot of bat poop.
Why I Picked This Book: I've always enjoyed Barry's humor books and I heard an excerpt of this read and thought it sounded really funny.
Pros: I've been reading a lot of sweet Christmas romances and I was a bit sweeted out but wanted to stay with the Christmas spirit. That's when this short, quirky little story came to mind. This is actually a reread but if anything I enjoyed it as much if not more this time than the first time around. The narrator is a boy - about 10 - who comes across as very much a boy of that age. When he's at school or practicing for the Christmas pageant his focus is on Judy Flanders a pretty girl who is nice to him. His description of their "date" will have you both laughing and cringing at the awkwardness. Doug's descriptions of things are pretty funny - like how Doug's dad is in advertising which his mom says means he drinks martinis at lunch. The description of Doug's dad putting together the bike had me laughing and the Christmas pageant descriptions will be both funny and painful to anyone who has tried to do anything similar with children. The science project (which leads to the car ants) had me laughing though it will possibly give me nightmares. The book itself is more of a shorter novella with a scattering of photographs and illustrations. It's a quick read which is perfect for this time of year because my downtime is the 25 seconds between when I sit down and when I fall asleep.
Cons: None that I can think of. I really enjoyed this book.
Overall: The story is sweet but not in a sugar coated way but in the odd sweet way you get in real life with little kids. It's funny without being slapstick - well the end is a little slapstick but it worked. It's Christmas- without being Santa overload and it made me want a really big dog again.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: While this is the first fiction book I've read by Barry I've really enjoyed his humor books in the past. I"m looking forward to trying more of his fiction later.
Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes, this would be a good holiday book for those that don't enjoy the plethora of holiday romances but still want a good Christmas story. Plus, I think this would be a fun read aloud to kids.