Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies (1947)
This week many of the Friday Forgotten Book bloggers are posting about crime-themed holiday books. Sorry, but my choice doesn't have a crime but it does has a courtroom scene and (to stretch a point) a mystery of sorts. Miracle on 34th Street was one of the first holiday books I ever read so please indluge me. The book is certainly worthy of notice.
Most people are familiar with the 1947 film starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and the delightful Edmund Gwenn; many are also familiar with the many remakes for film and television, as well as the stage and musical versions. Not that many people realize that the film was based on a story by Valentine Davies or that Davies expanded the story into a novel to coincide with the movie's release.
I'm trying to remember when I read the book, perhaps in elementary school. I'm fairly certain I got it from the Scholastic Book Club, the same place I got a copy of Robb White's The Secret Sea and James E. Gunn and Jack Williamson's Star Bridge, so it probably waS around 1956 or 1957. I'm pretty sure the copy I read was a Pocket Books edition, most likely the 1952 because I wouldn't have been interested in such "juvenile fare" by the time the 1959 edition came out. (Both editions seemed to have the same cover painting, one quite different from that in my memory, but one's memory can play tricks now, can't it?)
I needn't go into the plot. If you've seen the movie (and I know you have) you've seen the book. And I'm sure you all know there really is a Santa Claus. What interested me most at that age was learning that a favorite movie could be read as a book, and -- in some cases -- a favorite book could be turned into a movie; something that struck home even more when I read Fred Gibson's Old Yeller. I think that's about when I became enamoured with the power of words, expanding my world from The Hardy Boys to the true marvels of the power of story. Anyway, that's why Miracle on 34th Street holds such a special memory for me.
I'm willing to bet the story holds up today. There are a number of copies available from the internet and probably from many libraries. Give it a try. Maybe a little bit of its magic will rub off on you.
For more holiday-themed, mainly criminous books and a wide assortment of other "Forgotten Books," visit Patti Abbott's blog at pattinase.