Tis the season! It’s getting to be that time of the year when many of us start thinking about Christmas – and I have a wonderful book to share with you. Stay tuned below for a chance to win a copy of this fabulous book! Join me in shining the spotlight on author Daphne Benedis-Grab and her MG novel
The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab (Scholastic/2014)
Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, the Angel Tree is mysteriously erected in the town square. People young and old tie wishes to the tree, and those wishes, with the generous help of the townsfolk, come true. Lucy wishes that the surgery for her sick seeing-eye dog that her family can’t afford will be provided. Max wants nothing more than to get out of the depressing run-down apartment his family lives in after their house burned down. Joe, new to town, and friendless, wishes his mother could come to him for Christmas. Cami doesn’t tie her wish onto the tree because she wants to discover who the mysterious benefactor is. When the four come together to solve the mystery, a greater gift of friendship materializes. A heart-warming tale perfect for the Christmas season and any other time of the year.
Spotlight on Daphne Benedis-Grab:
Please tell us what sparked the idea for The Angel Tree. And how did the characters of Max, Lucy, Joe and Cami come to you? I love how each had his/her own individual stories, but also came together and formed friendships.
I love Christmas and everything about it- except for the way that sometimes it gets turned into a consumer holiday with kids thinking about presents and not much else. I have nothing against presents, or getting excited about them- that is great! But Christmas is about more than a pile of loot and when my kids turned eight, we started talking about that. Which lead me to start thinking about how much fun it would be to write a story that captured what Christmas means to me.
Thanks! I love writing about friendship and this is the first time I’ve written so many voices in a story. Cami, Joe, Max and Lucy came to me the way most characters do- a mix of my own traits, experiences and feelings combined with things that I’m thinking about, like something going on with my kids or something I’ve read. I used to play the violin like Cami and my kids are adopted like Lucy. A good friend has a son with learning disabilities which got me thinking about Max. And it just went from there…
How did you develop the mystery of The Angel Tree? Did you know early on who the benefactor was and the story behind his/her intentions?
I did know who was behind the mystery but setting it up with enough clues yet not too many was hard! My editor was a big help there- we did a pretty I depth revision after I gave her the first draft where she pointed out places where clues could come up organically without being too obvious (I hope)!
You must love Christmas! What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions – either from childhood or now. And what do you think your 11-year-old self would have wished had you been able to tie a wish onto Pine River’s Angel Tree?
I adore Christmas and I have a lot of favorite traditions- come to my Facebook page in November and December where I’ll post pictures and details about them and hopefully hear from other people what some of their favorites are. But if I had to pick just one it’s decorating the tree. Our ornaments are a mix of homemade that remind me of the kids growing up (they made such cute ornaments when they were toddlers!) and ornaments we bought traveling that bring back memories of those trips. We play carols, bake cookies and when it’s all done we turn out the lights in the apartment, turn on the lights on the tree and it’s magic.
I actually put my eleven year old wish in the book as an example early on- I am the kid who wanted a horse!
Debbi, thank you for having me on your awesome blog!!
Thank you, Daphne!
Daphne Benedis-Grab is the author of The Angel Tree, as well as two young adult novels, and her short stories have appeared in American Girl Magazine. She earned an MFA at The New School and is an adjunct professor at McDaniel College. She lives in New York City with her husband, two kids and a cat who has been known to keep her computer warm while she is away from her desk.
For a chance to win a copy of The Angel Tree, just follow these instructions:
1. Comment below.
2. You must have a US or Canada mailing address to win.
3. Enter by Friday, November 7th, midnight EST. Winner will be chosen at random and announced here on Tuesday the 11th.
Good luck and happy reading!