Saving Christmas Spirit is perfect for family reading before, during or after Christmas Day. In Donna Getzinger's charming fantasy, five children struggle in the week following Christmas to keep appreciation and generosity from vanishing from our world. They also fight a more literal parallel battle in Joyeux Terre, the land of holiday magic, to prevent the Elves of Christmas Greed from destroying forever the Fairies of Christmas Spirit.
Hayley & Crystal Hayes are the daughters of well-to-do parents. Crystal, the younger, is generous and sweet. Her older sister Hayley, however, hasn't learned to appreciate how good her life is or how to share her bounty with others. Hayley and Crystal's parents rent out their back house to Mrs. Cummings, a widow with three children of her own: Savannah, Travis and Kit. When Mr. and Mrs. Hayes accuse the Cummings children of stealing some of Hayley and Crystal's presents on Christmas Day, the holiday is effectively ruined for everyone in the two households. Savannah and her brothers, certain that they are a terrible burden on their mother, decide to run away during the night. Crystal sees them leaving from her bedroom window, and she and Hayley decide to come along.
Savannah tells a story about fairies who live in Christmas ornaments, lying dormant in the decorations until their season comes around, to cheer her brothers up. As the children walk through the early post-Christmas streets, they are shocked at the trees, wrapping paper and old toys already set out on curbs waiting for the trash man. They decide to make their own Christmas, each child selecting a discarded tree and dragging it up a hill to a clearing where they build a fire and give each other toys thrown away by other children. As they delight in this second, better Christmas, something magical happens: they awaken the Christmas Fairies who lie dying in the recovered trees.
Gildenstar, a fairy princess, invites her rescuers to visit the land of Christmas Spirit in Joyeaux Terre, and the children are off on a magical journey. They discover a place of beauty and joy, but soon find out that a desperate struggle is taking place between the Christmas Fairies and the Elves of Christmas Greed over the spirit and bounty of that holiday. With the King of the Christmas Fairies sick and near death, the children are drafted into the fairy army to defend Christmas Spirit from the elves' evil desires.
Saving Christmas Spirit, sweetly illustrated by animator Ernie Gilbert, lends itself especially to family reading in that school vacation week between Christmas and the New Year. Still, its message is appropriate for everyone at any time: it is up to each of us, individually, to keep love and goodwill alive in the world. A simple, delightful read for all ages.