Book Review: Greg Kincaid’s A Dog Named Christmas

Posted December 24, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Greg Kincaid’s A Dog Named ChristmasA Dog Named Christmas on November 4, 2008 in hardcover and has 148 pages.

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First in the McCray Family series about dogs; it’s a cute, warm Christmas story for animal lovers. (It was a 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame hit movie.)

My Take

Oh, this was just so sweet. This was a great family with wonderful values. And tremendous patience.

Some of the sentences were a bit amateurish, but the overall effect was very uplifting. Do pay attention to the prologue as the story is all about Jake/Christmas; I don’t feel that Kincaid brought this connection together very well. I didn’t catch on until I went back to look over my notes to write this review.

My one annoyance with this story is Kincaid’s reason for dad not wanting Todd to get the dog. It’s been forty frickin’ years!! And no dog can live as long as a human.

There was a huge chunk spent on relating a McCray family tradition that went back to George’s grandfather and snow removal. When I read the bit at the back about Kincaid’s writing this story, it makes more sense why this is in here; he needed to make the story longer and that’s pretty much about all it does. Sure, it is a warm tale and it certainly got me hungry, but it’s just here for filler, just like the prologue.

I did appreciate dad’s patience at the shelter as Todd carefully “interviewed” each dog. Very sweet and I could wish this acceptance occurred in more families.

That family dinner cracked me up. Dad really put his foot in it and the kids got him back but good. Although, dad did have his own bit of revenge that went down well.

By the time we finally get to the point of the story, it unfolds nicely, and you wish it would just keep going. It’s this part that makes the ending all the more emotional. God knows I was crying.

The Story

The local shelter is promoting a Christmas dog program which allows people to temporarily adopt a dog for the Christmas holidays. And it’s something that Todd just has his heart set on. It’s something his dad is equally set against. He wants nothing more to do with dogs. He’s had too many bad experiences with loss and doesn’t want to go through it again.

Todd and Mary Ann do manage to get him to agree, and it’s events after this that are the real heart of this story.

The Characters

Jake is a big, older, very well-trained black Lab who just comes and goes as he pleases. Tucker was the dog who died while McCray was in Vietnam. Good Charlie is the dog in Vietnam who saved McCray’s life. Ruthie is a pregnant dachshund.

George McCray is a fourth generation farmer in Kansas and not a fast thinker. He’s happy with his life, although he’s got some trauma leftover from Vietnam. Mary Ann McCray is his wife, and she teaches English at the high school. Twenty-year-old Todd is the youngest of their five kids and he’s mentally disabled. And I just love the McCrays’ approach with Todd. It’s just so perfect that I want to cry.

…the Midwest testing site for the Todd Paint Company.”

Hannah is their daughter and recently divorced with no children. Jonathan is the oldest, a finish carpenter married to his high school sweetheart, with three boys. Ryan is the second oldest with a quiet nature. Thomas is the third oldest and just as cheeky as the rest.

Hayley Donaldson is in charge at the Cherokee County Animal Shelter. Hank is their 80-year-old neighbor who works a dairy farm; Jean is his wife.

Brenda Lewis is a newscaster for Channel 5.

The Cover and Title

The cover is very heartwarming with a big red barn with outbuildings all lit up with bright orange-yellow lights surrounded by naked trees and a fir and snow piled everywhere. That time of day when it’s turning to night and the sky is that pretty bluish purple. Front and in our face is Christmas himself with his head cocked and a questioning look on the black Lab’s face. I liked the vertical trim of snowflakes going up the sides.

The title is all about A Dog Named Christmas and the changes he incites.


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