The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog

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Overview

"My name is Doug Barnes, and this stuff happened on Christmas Eve in my town, which is Asquont, New York."

The year is 1960, and, as it is every year, the Christmas pageant at St. John's Episcopal Church, directed by Mrs. Elkins, who used to be in The Theater in New York, and who is tall and skinny with hair the color of the orange part of a candy corn, is a very big deal. Doug is a shepherd this year, which is better than being a Three King, because, for one thing, you get to carry a stick. But there are ...
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Overview

"My name is Doug Barnes, and this stuff happened on Christmas Eve in my town, which is Asquont, New York."

The year is 1960, and, as it is every year, the Christmas pageant at St. John's Episcopal Church, directed by Mrs. Elkins, who used to be in The Theater in New York, and who is tall and skinny with hair the color of the orange part of a candy corn, is a very big deal. Doug is a shepherd this year, which is better than being a Three King, because, for one thing, you get to carry a stick. But there are problems everywhere. His fellow shepherds are hacking around, which makes Mrs. Elkins yell at all of them; the girl he likes is playing Mary opposite a Joseph who is depressingly smart and athletic and cute; the family dog is doing very poorly, and they have no idea what they're going to tell Doug's little sister Becky, who's playing one of the Host of Angels and who loves the dog more than anything; and his dad's just gotten a flat tire, which means they might not even get to the pageant at all.

But Christmas is a time of miracles. And for Doug and his family, this will be the most miraculous Christmas ever.

Dave Barry has been delighting readers for decades with his newspaper columns, nonfiction, novels for adults and novels for children, but this book is something special: a story for all ages that'll touch the heart and make you laugh out loud. And you may never look at a manger scene the same way again.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Barry (Big Trouble) spins a nostalgic tale about a boy and his dog on Christmas Eve, 1960. Junior high schooler Doug Barnes is playing a shepherd in the Christmas pageant at the bat-infested Episcopal Church. When the Barnes family dog dies on Christmas Eve, Doug and his father end up adopting a shelter dog, Walter, a charmer who manages to wreck the pageant. Accompanying Barry's snappy narrative are photos and goofy advertisements from the period. Barry is a crowd pleaser and doesn't disappoint with this tale. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Denver Post
Striking just the right balance between sentiment and insouciance, this slender, hip Christmas story recounts a semi-autobiographical story.
Library Journal
Humorist Barry (Boogers Are My Beat) spins a short and cute yarn, Jean Shepherd style. The year is 1960, and the narrator is Doug, junior high prankster extraordinaire. When the beloved family dog dies on Christmas Eve, Doug and Dad head to the local shelter to drop off the corpse. Turns out the shelter doesn't take dead dogs but will happily provide them with a new one, who comes along to the Christmas pageant. Disaster, of course, is the result. Fun for the entire family; for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/06.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A nostalgic Christmas fable strikes an engaging balance between humor and heart. With his penchant for booger jokes and infatuation with 1960s rock-'n'-roll, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former columnist and prolific author (Dave Barry's Money Secrets, 2006, etc.) has proven inordinately successful at channeling his inner 13-year-old. This short, easily digestible, first-person reminiscence invites the reader to identify its fictional narrator, a junior-high student, with the author. Not only do they share the same initials, but Doug Barnes lives in the place and era of Barry's adolescence-Asquont, N.Y., 1960. Christmas in this commuter town 30 miles north of New York City has some amusing traditions, including a "Manger War," in which Catholic and Protestant kids play pranks involving each other's displays, and a Christmas Eve pageant that suffers a series of calamities. After the previous year's mishap, in which the vase intended as a gift for baby Jesus shattered and he was instead presented with a Rolodex, Doug finds himself demoted from Wise Man to shepherd. Which wouldn't have been so bad, since it's fun carrying a staff, if this year Judy Flanders hadn't been selected to play Mary. Judy is the girl of Doug's dreams, one of the most popular, and nicest, girls in school, and one of the few who'll both talk to and dance with Doug. (This doesn't make him special; she's like that with everyone.) Pivotal plot developments include the accumulation of bat poop in the belfry of Doug's church and the Christmas Eve death of the Barnes family's beloved dog (who was older than Doug) and their unexpected adoption of a new one. Walter the Christmas miracle dog becomes Doug's guardian angel, Dougbecomes Judy's hero and the holiday ends happily for everyone. Dickens needn't fear the competition, but a Very Barry Christmas should prove a holiday favorite for years to come.
From the Publisher
“Striking just the right balance between sentiment and insouciance, this slender, hip Christmas story recounts a semi-autobiographical story.” —The Denver Post

“Nostalgic…Barry is a crowd pleaser and doesn’t disappoint with this tale.” —Publishers Weekly

“Should prove a holiday favorite for years to come!” —Kirkus Reviews

"Hilarious."  —USA Today

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399154133
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/7/2006
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Barry

Among Pultizer Prize-winning author Dave Barry’s bestselling books are his novels Insane City, Big Trouble, and Tricky Business; the nonfiction You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty, I’ll Mature When I’m Dead and Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far); four Peter Pan prequels, written with Ridley Pearson; and his Christmas story, The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog.

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    1. Hometown:
      Miami, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 3, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Armonk, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1969
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2009

    Great Christmas book!

    I loved this book. I read this to my teenage boys on the way to visit relatives for Christmas. They were laughing their heads off. We got to our destination before the book was over and had to sit in the driveway and finish reading. Not only have I recommended this book to others, my boys have told all of their friends it is a Christmas "must read".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I was looking for a ¿new¿ Christmas story that would be read alo

    I was looking for a “new” Christmas story that would be read aloud as annual Christmas event. When I saw this book reviewed (it has been published for several years) it seemed this was the book for which I had been looking. Having read some of Mr. Barry’s work, I expected good writing, an easily believed story and moments of such hilarity as to leave me breathless. I was not disappointed.
    The setting for this yarn is December 1960 in Asquont, New York. Doug Barnes is a shepherd in the St. John’s Episcopal Church’s Christmas Pageant, a step up from being one of the Three Kings of the Orient, which he was the year previous. He had hoped to be Joseph, as Judy Flanders, the prettiest girl in his class is Mary. What he and the other Shepherds do to this Pageant maybe the reason they became all but extinct. 
    On the way to the production, the reader is introduced to life in the Barnes household. He is the oldest of three children. Stuart, his brother, “who is a real pain,” and Becky, who is the youngest and “is not anywhere near the pain Stuart is, but is real little.” Dad works in New York City, in the advertising industry; his mom raises the kids, “keeps” the house, cooks, drives the children wherever they need to be and does it all with aplomb. The family dog, Frank, “a cross between a Labrador retriever, a St. Bernard and an aircraft carrier,” and his being added to the family pre-dated there being children. On this Christmas Eve, Frank “is not doing well,” “not so much sick as he was just getting old.” 
    By the time the reader meets Frank, he/she has experienced several of Doug’s “adventures,” – his brother’s pinecone Science Project, the 1959 “Manger Wars,” “The List” kept by him & his fellow male classmates, his first date with Judy Flanders and the school dance. Learning of any of these happenings is reason to read the book. I did not injure myself laughing, but it took a day or two to be assured of that fact. How Frank became Walter and proved to be a true Miracle Dog is the heart of the story, of course. Mr. Barry proves his mettle as an expert story teller and humorist in detailing this moment in the life of the Barnes Family of Asquont, New York.
    Reading this book will require: two hours, sufficient oxygen supply in case one has difficulty breathing after hard laughter, a willingness to return to (or visit for the first time) an age when families had time to celebrate each other, Christmas was contained to December and a belief that miracles happen.  I enjoyed reading it out loud to my Beloved and I look forward to reading this story so often that I can quote it from memory. 

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  • Posted December 15, 2011

    Easy Read - Recommended for everyone who loves Christmas

    This little book has a wonderful tender story of family and Christmas. It looks beyond toys and Santa Claus to tell a story that incorporates all emotions. We are sad, warm and loving, laughing all at the same time. And we still get our Christmas miracle.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Good Book

    This is a good book to read on a rainy or snowy day and spend some time alone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Must Read to Keep for Reading Over and Over

    Delightfully reminiscent of my youth. A fun, easy read. Dave Berry captures a youngster's view of the Christmas holidays in an honest and hysterical recollection of events. This book is an excellent gift choice.
    Be sure to give one to yourself!!!

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    Great Book

    Love the book! It was funny and had some serious moments. Great for a bookclub.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog

    This book was okay to good. It certainly wasn't my favorite Christmas book but it was kind of cute. I think young readers pre-teen to early teen may like it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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