Thirteen-year-old George McCray relates a story of growing up on his grandparents’ small dairy farm in Kansas in the novel Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid. Most of the events in this novel (which is a prequel to A Dog Named Christmas) take place as a recalling of the second half of 1962, when George is in 6th grade and has recently lost his father in a tragic tractor accident. Told from George’s point of view in past tense, George leads the reader through his realization that the events of life often break a lot of supposed rules, his family’s and his growth through the process, and the love and friendship received from his family, neighbors, and a beautiful red farm dog named Tucker.
The author describes feeling and characters’ relationship and thought processes very well. Amazing descriptions abound in this novel that utilize all the sense and are written in such a way that evokes appropriately associated feelings from the reader. (One example: “…its aroma…was a strong call to draw me out of bed, though I remained huddled in a cocoon of warm covers for a few more precious minutes” – page 31.) This writing talent leads the reader to nod in agreement in certain parts, smile with joy in others, and feel the burden of loss and heavy nature of sadness in other parts. The author also creates beautiful, unique images like “…clouds pass overhead like herds of galloping white stallions” (page 41).
Full of strong, loving, humorous, persevering, yet imperfect characters, Christmas with Tucker is a thoughtful page-turner that teaches lessons learned to the reader without being “hit-you-over-the-head” obvious. The author teaches these lessons through a character’s example or through George’s reflection back on the times. I particularly love some of the parenting tips I gleaned from the story. George’s grandparents set a solid example of loving discipline and trust through the support and guidance they give to George.
Questions for you: Though this novel does not outwardly discuss religion, it is considered inspirational fiction. What other novels do you know that show Christian values without externally advertising as such? What other Christmas novels or novels with animals do you love?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”