Wende and Harry Devlin ~ Parents' Magazine Press ~ 1976
Christmas in this house doesn't end until the 12th night, so I won't feel guilty dragging you off to Cranberryport even though the holiday has technically come and gone. As such, the Devlins were mainstays in children's lit throughout the 60s and 70s, illustrating and authoring two of my childhood all-time favorites, How Fletcher Was Hatched and Old Black Witch.
I'm not the number one fan of their Cranberryport stories, but it's hard to deny that the little town with the big bog has made a lasting impression.
Starting with Cranberry Thanksgiving in 1971 and spanning through nine books and six "Tales from Cranberryport" follow-up paperbacks in the 90s, this one chronicles a Christmas when an old grump almost spoiled the day.
Christmas was coming! Snow was on the cranberry bog, the smell of pine in the wind, and the fresh water pond frozen smooth. Mr Whiskers, looking out from his kitchen window, was deep in gloom. Christmas was only three days away and his pond should have been filled with skaters--skaters in bright sweaters, laughing, with their scarves flying in the wind. And he should have been there teaching them all to twirl and do figure eights.
But old Cyrus Grape had changed all that. He had moved next door to Mr. Whiskers, into the stone house on the rise, and claimed that the pond was on his land. Cyrus didn't like children. Whenever he saw them on the pond, he would hop on his sled and slide bumpily-bump down the hill. "Scat! Off my pond or I'll have the sheriff after you!" Cyrus would shout as he shook his cane and chased the skaters to the snowy banks.
What a spoil sport! Not only that, but Mr W's sister thinks he's unfit to live by himself and is coming to take him away for good. Mr. W enlists the help of the ever-faithful duo of Grandmother and Maggie, and together, they fix the sister problem and find the proof they need to get the town's children skating again.
Even though the book is out of print and often can't be found without a bloated price tag, you can still find Cranberry Christmas on TV, narrated (and sung) to saccharine perfection by the one and only Barry Manilow. Ho ho ho, friends.
How Fletcher Was Hatched
Old Witch Rescues Halloween
Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon
Old Black Witch!
The Wonderful Tree House
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