Friday, December 23, 2016

Brooks on Books: A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition

This shall be a message unto you: The single greatest bit of pop culture related to the Christmas holiday is A Charlie Brown Christmas. As I have mentioned, I watch it each year on Christmas Eve, I enjoy it, I get something new or rediscover something in it each viewing.

This book, originally published in 2000, is a fitting tribute to the classic 1965 animated Peanuts special and a treasure for any fan. And hey, all you would-be Grinches  (I like that special, but I don't feel the need to see it every single year), let's not make any comments about the fact that a television program denouncing overcommercialization of the holidays has been merchandised to death over the years with toys, ornaments...and, yes, the "40th Anniversary Edition" of this book that I enjoyed.   Let's not mention it!

Producer Lee Mendelson recounts the origin of the special, and an interview with director Bill Melendez adds additional insight. You also get remembrances of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and composer Vince Guaraldi. This is not a huge amount of text--it's more a few lengthy essays than anything else--but you get a comprehensive picture of the creation of the show, with info on the sponsors' involvement, the voice casting, the original reaction and reviews, and more.

The book also contains the original sheet music of the "Linus and Lucy" theme. Rounding out the package is the "complete illustrated script" of the special, with shots of the cartoon accompanying the text. This volume is further supplemented with ephemera and production artwork.

I really can't imagine anyone who likes A Charlie Brown Christmas not enjoying The Making of a Tradition. Then again, I really can't imagine anyone not liking A Charlie Brown Christmas. So by that logic, this book is a winner for everyone! Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

No comments: