Dan T. Davis File:
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
An Orphan's Promise & The Blacksmith's Gift by
Dan T. Davis
"...a taut, hard-hitting story that boasts the best mix of noir crime fiction and spiritual storytelling."
Regaling our children with stories about Santa Claus, “Old Saint Nick”, the North Pole, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer has always been a mainstay in our culture. The tradition of hanging stockings on the fireplace, putting presents under the tree and leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, (though I think we all suspected Dad enjoyed those treats and not Santa), existed long before Wal-mart began its quest for global domination and stores put their Christmas decorations out three days after Halloween. There’s nothing wrong with the original stories about Old “Kris Kringle”, especially considering they often existed side by side with the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Even the Peanuts had the good sense to put aside the hoopla and Charlie Brown’s poor, benighted tree to pay tribute to Christ’s birth.
The problem these days is not the Santa Claus myth – it’s the fact that Christ’s role has so diminished, most kids grow up hearing more about Santa, seeing him everywhere – from Tim Allen’s portrayal to his almost “Christ-like” demeanor in The Polar Express (an otherwise harmless and delightful holiday film) - than hearing about why we celebrate the holiday in the first place: to honor the birth of Christ. Unfortunately, today’s society has taken Santa and made him the new savior; one that delivers all the material things a kid could possibly want.
We could always “throw the baby out with the bathwater” – eradicate Santa entirely, and eliminate the tradition in an effort to keep our children focused on the true meaning of Christmas. However, that robs some of the fun from the season, and besides…I’m a dad now, and it’s my turn to dress up as Santa, make false sled trails in the snow, and enjoy those cookies…with a can of Pepsi to replace the glass of milk.
We have an option, though, and that is to retain the original spirit of the Kris Kringle myth: a woodworker who loved children and most importantly his Lord, as he came to believe that delivering toys to children in orphanages was his call to serve God.
Children’s author Dan T. Davis has done that with his two children’s books: The Blacksmith’s Gift, and An Orphan’s Promise. The former begins the story with the kind-hearted Mr. Kloss, a carpenter living in 19th century Northern Europe. Through a series of events that takes the Kloss family through a cold, hard winter, as they struggle to keep down the disappointment of their inability to have children of their own, they slowly encounter God’s will – to provide cheer and joy for those in need on one of the most important days of the year, Christ’s Day.
An Orphan’s Promise picks up the story several years later, as Mr. Kloss and his wife – Papa and Mama – are well advanced in their years, still without children of their own. However, Santa’s career of providing toys for all the local orphanages, bringing smiles and delight for those poor in spirit is in full swing, and his home is full of young orphan boys who have found a place at the Kloss’s, helping every year to make toys for all the children.
This year, however, something new has happened: an orphan girl named Ruby has sought out Mr. Kloss for a place to stay, hoping to work as one of his carpenters. Though they’ve never had a girl carpenter before, Ruby finds her place among them, even learning how to trust again, eventually calling Mr. and Mrs. Kloss “Papa” and “Mama” - as they become a whole family at last.
An Orphan’s Promise is illustrated by Christina E. Siravo; The Blacksmith’s Gift by Matthew S. Armstrong, and they are colorful, vivid, and absolutely a wonder to behold. In addition, The Blacksmith’s Gift was recently bestowed the Ben Franklin Award for best new children’s book by the Independent Book Publishers Association.
Both of these books are excellent choices for all children – they retain the magic and wonder of Christmas, tell a realistic portrayal of the origins of the Santa Claus myth, and the most important thing of all: they teach that learning to trust in God for everything is the best gift anyone could give or have.
Visit the author’s website at: www.secondstar.us today to add these books to your Christmas collection.
Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun
Bulletin and The
Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s
Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened
Horizons Vol. 3 & 4,
NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus
Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations,
Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s
writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The
Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his
wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at
Catholic Central High School
in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing
at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and