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Dylan Thomas: A Child's Christmas in Wales (Review)

Updated on December 2, 2014

An Enduring Work by Dylan Thomas

What is "A Child's Christmas in Wales?"

This is a prose work by the short-lived Welsh writer Dylan Thomas. It is a memoir of sorts - an anecdotal telling of one Christmas or many merged together from the viewpoint of a young boy. It is often romanticised as a version of Christmases past, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time, perhaps of Thomas' boyhood or one he would have liked to enjoy. "A Child's Christmas in Wales" is one of Thomas' most popular works. This book started out as a piece written for radio and Thomas rewrote it many times; it was first recorded by Thomas in 1952 in the U.S.

"A Childs Christmas in Wales" is chock-full of wonderful words woven into imaginative anecdotes. A stunning example is the opening lines of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" sets the stage for this dramatic creation. "One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I some times hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."

Photo:Microsoft Images

Life and Times of Dylan Thomas

Statue of Dylan Thomas, Maritime Quarter, Swansea, England
Statue of Dylan Thomas, Maritime Quarter, Swansea, England

Dylan Marlais Thomas was born on October 27, 1914 in Swansea and died, November 9, 1953 at Greenwich Village. He was married to Caitlin MacNamara; Aeronwy Bryn Thomas-Ellis was their second child and only daughter. Thomas is regarded as having launched the audiobook industry in the United States with his recording of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” for Caedmon Audio.

Some of the Many Formats of "A Child's Christmas in Wales"

Some of the Many Formats of "A Child's Christmas in Wales"
Some of the Many Formats of "A Child's Christmas in Wales"

A Child's Christmas in Wales - Collectible Books and Recordings

A sampling of the narrative spoken by a variety of readers including Dylan Thomas.

"A Child's Christmas in Wales" - Books to Buy and Collect

A Child's Christmas in Wales
A Child's Christmas in Wales

Fascinating illustrations by Edward Ardizzone who was born October 16, 1900 in Haiphong, French Indochina (now Vietnam) and moved to England when he was five years old. He wrote and illustrated the story of Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain for his own children; Oxford University Press published it in 1935 with great success. This book led to several more in the popular "Tim" series. Ardizzone won the first Kate Greenaway Medal in 1956 for Tim All Alone and was named Commander, Order of British Empire in 1971. He died in 1979. Published by both British and American publishers.

 
A Child's Christmas in Wales
A Child's Christmas in Wales

Ellen Raskin (March 13, 1928 - August 8, 1984) illustrations may enhance children's enjoyment of Thomas' memoir-like tale. Executed in ink, torn paper, and gouache on textured paper, they are full of tiny details that beg for closer inspection.

 
A Child's Christmas in Wales
A Child's Christmas in Wales

This new (November 1995) New Directions paperbook edition features the woodcut illustrations by the artist Fritz Eichenberg (October 24, 1901 - November 30, 1990).

 
Quite Early One Morning: Stories
Quite Early One Morning: Stories

A compilation of Thomas' sessions at the BBC including his poems in prose and in verse. 240 pages (Tenth Edition, December 1, 1968); Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation; English.

 

A Child's Christmas in Wales - Read by Dylan Thomas

Reading Aloud

Official White House Photo by Pete Souz., April 13, 2009, Public Domain
Official White House Photo by Pete Souz., April 13, 2009, Public Domain

Do Your Read Aloud to the Children in Your Life?

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"A Child's Christmas in Wales" - Video

A Child's Christmas in Wales
A Child's Christmas in Wales

A well-acted and lovely photographed movie first viewed on PBS. Filmed on location in a small Welsh village, where on Christmas Eve, Old Geraint (Elliott, Denholm) shares his stories and memories with his beloved grandson, Thomas. This version is Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)

 

Favorite Read Aloud Christmas Stories

Houghton Mifflin and Companys Holiday Books for MDCCCXCV, Armstrong  & Co., Boston
Houghton Mifflin and Companys Holiday Books for MDCCCXCV, Armstrong & Co., Boston

What is Your Favorite read Aloud Christmas Story?

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A Child's Christmases in Wales [Regions 2 & 4]
A Child's Christmases in Wales [Regions 2 & 4]

A modern updated version. UK version with actors Ruth Jones, Mark Lewis Jones, Steve Speirs, Paul Kaye, Michael Sheen. This version is for Europe - Region 2.

 

Do you like to read aloud? Do you have favorite young people to whom you read? What are your favorite kinds of books to read aloud?

Thoughts About Holidays and Reading Aloud

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