Synopses & Reviews
In this heartwarming novel, author Greg Kincaid tells the tender story of how one very special dog changed the lives of his adoptive family—and an entire town—forever.
“Todd, they always want you to adopt a dog. Thats what they do. Besides, we dont need another animal around here, and most definitely not a dog.”
When Todd McCray, a developmentally challenged young man still living on his parents Kansas farm, hears that a local animal shelter is seeking temporary homes for its dogs during the days leading to Christmas, he knows exactly what he wants for the holidays. His father objects, but Todds persistence quickly wins out. Soon the McCrays are the short-term foster family for a lovable pooch the young man names Christmas.
But what about all the other dogs who will be forced to spend the Yuletide season in cages? In the days that follow, Todd uses his special gifts of persuasion to encourage his hometown to participate in the “Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program.” What follows from his small act of kindness will teach his family, and his community, about peace on earth and good will toward men—and animals.
When Todd, a developmentally challenged young man still living on his parents’ Kansas farm, hears that a local shelter is seeking temporary homes for their dogs during the holiday week, he knows exactly what he wants for Christmas. Animals are Todd’s first love, and his persistence quickly overwhelms his father’s objections to befriending a canine, a reluctance that proves to have a painful origin. The family takes in a very special animal, and the shelter’s Christmas adoption program soon grows larger than anyone had hoped. By the story’s end, Todd, with the help of a dog named Christmas, has taught an entire community the transformative power of goodwill and shared love—a lesson for all seasons.
Dog lovers and all who seek an unforgettable tale that captures the spirit of giving will fall in love with this charming story, which is sure to captivate readers year-round. Heartwarming, sweet, and beautifully designed, A DOG NAMED CHRISTMAS is a true delight.
Dog-lovers and all who seek an unforgettable tale that captures the spirit of Christmas will fall in love with this charming story, which is sure to captivate readers year-round. Heartwarming, sweet, and beautifully designed, "A Dog Named Christmas" is a true delight.
About the Author
GREG KINCAID, when not writing, is a practicing lawyer, specializing in divorce and family law mediation. He lives on a farm in eastern Kansas with his wife, three horses, two dogs, and two cats.
Reading Group Guide
1. The book opens with the reader learning about Christmass previous family, the Conners (who knew him as Jake). We learn that Jake is a rover and that, as Mr. Conner puts it, he always has “Jake business to attend to” (3). Why do you think the author decided to introduce the reader to Christmas while he was still Jake?
2. When talking about Christmas in the opening pages, the author writes, “Hardship was the patina of his [Christmass] good life. There is no better state of mind for man or animal than being what you are and doing what you are meant to do.” (4).What do you think Christmas is “meant to do”?
3. In the novel, Todds father, George, speaks about the two previous dogs he had in his life: Tucker and Good Charlie. Discuss them both. At what point in his life did he have each of them? Why were they important to him at those times? How do these two dogs affect Georges relationship with Christmas?
4. Discuss George McCrays statement that “Its important to have a few choice spots for sitting and thinking, places that resonated with good memories and ample privacy” (59). Where is Georges spot and why did he choose that particular place? What does he contemplate while there? What happens to his spot at the end of the book? Why?
5. When Christmas arrives, George finds himself enjoying his company despite his struggle with the memories of Tucker and Good Charlie. Why doesnt George talk to his wife, Mary Ann, about his feelings?
6. At Christmas dinner George interrupts the merriment to remind everyone that when the holiday is over, the dog named Christmas goes back. How does the family react? How does George react to his own comment? Do you think he acted reasonably?
7. Discuss some of the ways that George attempts to distance himself from the joy that Christmas brings to his family, his friends and, most importantly, to him. Why do you think he repeatedly attempts to internally sabotage his own happiness with Christmas?
8. Discuss this statement: “Adults need keep their promises, even when they become inconvenient. Adults have to learn that things can be good without being forever.” (80) Do you agree with George? Why or why not? Do you feel there are moments when it is acceptable to break a promise?
9. Why do you think that George wants Todd to learn that “there is seldom room at our own inn for others?” (94) What does this say about George? How does this affect Todd? Does Georges thinking change by the end of the book? If so, how?
10. Bill Conner comments that people do not pick out Jake (Christmas) and own him. Rather, it is Jake who has to pick who he wants to be with. What made him pick George McCray?
11. George starts the book looking back on his life and reflecting on one memorable Christmas season, “a holiday that seemed perfect.” (7) What was it that made this holiday so good for George? What was the “Christmas” message of the book?
12. As George struggles to determine the right thing to do for Todd, he comments that sometimes the important things we do for our children will “not be given but withheld.” What does the author mean?
Todd McCray is a developmentally challenged young man living with his parents on their Kansas farm. While listening to the radio one day, Todd hears that the local animal shelter is seeking temporary homes for dogs during the Christmas week; Todd immediately wants to participate. Once Todd wins over his reluctant father, George, the McCray family find themselves with Christmas, a loyal, obedient dog that weaves his way into the hearts of the McCray family and their friends. When the time comes to give Christmas back however, it is George who finds he is having a hard time letting go.
The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Greg Kincaids A Dog Named Christmas. We hope they will enrich your experience with this inspiring and heartfelt novel.