Real Elves: A Christmas Story by Helen Smith

Real Elves is my first Christmas read of the year and it was a cute little mystery, a little silly maybe, but it has a light-heartedness that fits Christmas. And I would love to visit the Magic Forest, pick a golden apple,  and see Santa. It's a short story, only 35 pages or so, so I don't want to give away too much of the plot. I will say that there's no violence and it has a happy ending all around. I've read a couple other stories featuring Emily Castles. She's smart, funny and a bit quirky, but I don't think you actually get much of a feel for her characters here, it's more about the magic and mystery, not the recurring character. That does mean it works well as a stand-alone though. It'd be a nice gift to sneak into a stocking or a small gift exchange....
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Thursday’s Tale: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

I know "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is not actually a folk tale, but it has become so familiar to us, so much a part of our culture, that I think it still fits in my rather loose Thursday Tales collection. I've read the story of the schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane several times and I love the descriptions of the area and the locals. It really sets the stage for the story. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequesntly see strange sights and hear music and voices in  the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols. The dominant spirit however that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the...
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