Saturday, December 25, 2010

Book Review- Lilian and Russell Hoban's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Lillian and Russell Hoban
Published by: Parent's Magazine Press
Publication Date: 1971
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★★
Out of Print

Emmet and his Ma are having a tough time of it scrapping by in Frogtown Hollow. With his Dad's trusty toolbox Emmet tries to earn as much money as he can to supplement his Ma's income from taking in wash. But they both want nothing more then to make the coming Christmas special for the other. In a refashioning of the O. Henry story, "The Gift of the Magi", Emmet turns his Ma's washbasin into a bass while his Ma sells his tool box, both not knowing what the other is up to, so that they can enter to win the talent contest in Waterville with a $50 grand prize. Needless to say they don't win but they still have each other and things have never looked brighter.

If you don't know about Emmet Otter's Jud-Band Christmas you must have had a sad deprived childhood indeed. The long out of print book was immortalized by the late Jim Henson into one of the best Christmas stories ever created. I knew, due to my freakish Jim Henson knowledge, that they went to great lengths to re-create the world the Hoban's had written. But it was nice finally getting to see this for myself, the emulation of Lillian's drawing style and creating in three dimensions the little river community of these lovely otters. You can see why Henson went to such lengths to capture these little critters from the pen of the authors most famous for the creation of Francis. They exude cuteness and warmth and compassion. But what the book lacks is that extra spark that Henson brought, mainly the singing. For a book so centered on the musical it's sad that the medium is what hinders it... but Henson had no such obstacle. With Paul Williams bringing to life the hymn like music you get the perfect little movie that is sure to lighten any ones heart and bring them back the true spirit of Christmas and what it is to be a kid again. The fact that the book is out of print is a similar travesty to Kermit the Frog being excised from the DVDs due to copyright.


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