Saturday, December 22, 2012

Odds and Ends: Christmas version

'Tis the holiday season, so here are a few holiday goodies to end this week of reviews!

The Virginia Night Before Christmas by Ellen Sullivan:
A treat for Virginia residents and a charming twist on the traditional Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. It incorporates pieces of Virginia trivia, history, and places of interest (and some Southerner-isms) into Santa’s visit.

The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas by Michael Keane:
Another charmer and a patriotic take on Moore’s classic tale. Many may be familiar with NORAD’s traditional Santa tracker, but this version goes a little further with Santa being thrown off track by bad weather and how the military helps out. It is a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations and a nice bit of historical trivia at the end.

Prep & Landing and Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice:
Santa and his elves get a makeover, Mission Impossible style. Disney has clever fun with the idea of the annual Christmas gift delivery process as a high tech, organized operation, with appropriate puns and wordplay. Don’t skip the shorts and ads in the bonus features.

Christmas, Christmastime, and It’s a Wonderful Christmas performed by Michael W. Smith:
Traditional Christmas music gets a fresh twist, with full orchestra and choir coupled with innovative arrangements, including several originals, song mash-ups, and some songs with a pop edge. The sound recordings capture beautifully a sense of joy for Christmas. Hampton Roads residents may recognize "Christmastime" as the finale piece performed in the Abbey Stone Theater at Busch Gardens’ Christmastown.

Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic, The Lost Christmas Eve, and Dreams of Fireflies performed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra:
The other major group out there that performs instrumental Christmas music, besides Mannheim Steamroller. Whereas Mannheim Steamroller keeps to a traditional sound, Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the black sheep and rebel, splicing hard rock with classic sounds. “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” remains a mainstay on the radio and finally shows up on a compilation CD, the 2012 Now That’s What I call Today’s Christmas!

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