Description from GoodReads: A rescued beagle and his boy owner seek love and understanding for their troubled small town in this holiday companion to the Newbery Medal–winning Shiloh, from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
Christmas is coming and Marty and his rescued pup Shiloh are sure glad about that—for their town is sure low on love and understanding and they hope that the joy of the holiday will bring with it the generosity of spirit that’s so lacking.
It’s been a year since Marty Preston rescued Shiloh from Judd Travers and his cruel ways, and since then, Marty and Shiloh have been inseparable. Anywhere Marty goes, the beagle’s at his side, and Marty couldn’t be happier about that. Even Judd has been working to improve his reputation.
But just as townsfolk grow more accepting of Judd, a fire in the woods destroys many homes, including Judd’s, and Judd’s newly formed reputation. Doubt, blame, and anger spread faster than the flames—flames that are fanned by the new minister, who seems fonder of fire and brimstone than love and mercy. And why are his daughters so skittish around him? And what’s happened to Judd’s dogs? With Christmas right around the corner, Marty has a lot of questions, and how they’re answered might just take a Christmas miracle.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s fourth book in the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh series—following Shiloh, Shiloh Season, andSaving Shiloh—is full of heart-thudding suspense, as well as comfort and joy.
Thank you for Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy to answer a few questions.
This is the 4th book in the Shiloh series. The last one (Saving Shiloh) was published in 1997. What prompted you to continue the story?
There was still something I felt that needed to be dealt with--Judd's restitution as a member of the community. The movie producers were interested in a Shiloh Christmas story, and as I thought it over, the whole thing seemed to come together for me: just as the first Shiloh books dealt with the gray areas between right and wrong, the last book deals with enemy versus friend, and Marty's belief that religion--which also plays a part--- should bring people together, not separate them. By the end of the third book, Judd Travers has redeemed himself by saving Shiloh, but he still needs to pitch in and contribute to the community, and in "A Shiloh Christmas," he finds a way.
Shiloh is a beloved book. What is one way that writing about this special dog and the people/community around him changed you or your life?
Well, it's certainly kept me busier. Because many schools have added Shiloh to the curriculum, I get an enormous amount of assigned letters ( "my favorite character is....because...." "the book made me sad (happy, angry) because...." Etc. And of course I've done much more traveling and speaking because of the Shiloh series than I ever had before. But just thinking and writing about the resiliency of this rural family brought back so many memories of how my own parents guided us through the Depression, and made me appreciate anew the creativity of people who struggle to keep a household going, and their joy in simple pleasures.
Over the years, you have probably received an amazing number of letters from children. Any one letter stand out from all the others? Was there a very funny letter? Please share.
Two letters in particular brought tears to my eyes. A teacher had obviously assigned each child in her class to copy a letter she either dictated or wrote on the board that read, "Dear Mrs. Naylor: Our class started to read Shiloh, but there are two bad words in your book, and we will not finish it. We will not buy any more of your books and we will tell all our friends not to read your books until you stop using vulger (her spelling, not mine) words in your books." Each letter was dutifully signed by a child and folded in half, but two boys, using pencils with very sharp lead, had printed, in the tiniest letters along that gray crease, "But we love your book anyway."
A letter that made me laugh, was a child telling me about all the pets inhis family, then all the members of his family and their characteristics, and of his brother, all he wrote was, "His head is bigger than mine." Another letter, instead of telling me the state or city in which he lived, began, "I live on earth...."
As the new year approaches, what advice or insight do you have for children or adults who want to write a story?
Write it as you would tell it out loud. Read each paragraph aloud to see how it sounds. Put it away for a month or a week or an hour and come back to it to see how you feel about it then--what changes you might make. If you have trouble thinking of a good topic, think about the time you were most embarrassed, most angry, were the most sad or scared. Write a short paragraph about it. Then rewrite it, making it happen to someone else. Maybe even make it funny. Put a different beginning or ending on it--turn it over to your imagination and give it wings. The best stories come from some deep emotion in the writer, and blossom into stories everyone can enjoy.
About the author:
At 82, Newbery Medal–winning author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has been tugging at heartstrings for generations with a little beagle called Shiloh—including my own. Since making his first appearance in 1991, Shiloh has been the pup who stole our hearts in three beloved books that have sold more than two million copies. It’s been 18 years since Saving Shiloh, and now, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor revisits the Shiloh series for a Christmas adventure in A Shiloh Christmas (Atheneum; Ages 8-12; 9/22/15; ISBN 9781481441513;$17.99).
Phyllis has written more than 135 books and A Shiloh Christmas, the final book in the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh series—following Shiloh, Shiloh Season, and Saving Shiloh—is full of heart-thudding suspense, as well as comfort and joy.