Book Review: "The Christmas Dog" by Melody Carlson

Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. There's church, of course. But who can she bake for these days? And who would care whether or not she pulled out the Christmas decorations? Her new neighbor just adds to the problem. He's doing home improvements that don't appear to be improving much of anything. These days when Betty looks out the window, she sees a beat-up truck, a pile of junk, lots of blue tarps, and--horror of horrors--an old pink toilet. But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn a very important lesson about what Christmas is all about. This contemporary Christmas story is a timely yet gentle reminder that God can work miracles through something as seemingly insignificant as a little brown dog.

You know it's Christmas time, when Melody Carlson has a new book just for the holidays! I've been a fan of Melody's Christmas time stories throughout the years and I've been looking forward to this one. This story is another short but satisfying novella in the same style as her other Christmas books. In this story, we are introduced to Betty who has a new neighbor who is driving her nuts with his unexplained actions on the house next door. Then a stray dog appears on her porch, seemingly to belong to the said neighbor next door. However all attempts to return the dog are futile and Betty is left with a guest she hasn't prepared for.

I thought the book was really cute and perfect for animal lovers. Ralph the dog brings joy into the hearts of those who meet him and creates a special bond between Betty and her granddaughter. I enjoyed her interactions between the two women. I really liked how even though this isn't a blood relative, Betty and Avery have a wonderful relationship even if the two aren't on the best of terms with Avery's mother.

I did feel that the dog on the cover of the book is WAY cuter than Ralph was described in the story. He's depicted as a cute little dog on the front yet in the book, even after his bath, is still described as a mangy mutt. I also felt that I could understand Betty's paranoia about her neighbor and being nervous about his sketchy behavior. It wasn't as if she was making assumptions about him and gossiping behind her back. She had gone several times to try to speak to him and kept getting rebuffed or treated very rudely. Normally I'm not a fan of interfering neighbors who stick their nose in other's business, but this time I felt that Betty's actions were justified.

However overall I did enjoy this story. Yes it's over the top cute and could totally become a Hallmark movie but I'm a sucker for books about dogs and this one was right up my alley. This book is a wonderful way to get you in the holiday spirit. It's perfect for an afternoon read, yet will get you totally jolly and happy by the time you finish. It might also make you want to go find a dog to adopt and call your own Ralph!

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson is published by Revell (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. This does sound like a great book for this time of year.


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