THE MELODEON by Glendon Swarthout


Email this review


Souped-up memories of a Depression Christmas, when narrator James was thirteen, a city boy ""literally farmed out by my parents"" to the Michigan homestead of grandpa Will and grandma Ella. By the time of the Christmas week blizzard, James has learned that grandparents are human and how a lamb is born, and he's ready to help Will give Ella a Christmas Day surprise--by moving the family melodeon to the brand-new, undernourished church, even if it takes all night. Using the Little Tractor That Could (""HUFF-HUFF-HUFF-HUFF!""), assisted by local girls, and led by the horse-riding ghost of Will's Civil-War-dead father, the deed is done. Next day at service, Ella beams, and Will--who swore never to play after his father didn't come home from the War--plays ""Tenting on the Old Camp Ground."" Fair enough, but the reminiscing hush that might have made this a quietly affecting little tale is violated by pomposity (""I wish to describe. . .""), juvenile style, and final, Gramps-is-dying bathos: ""You damn sheep! Don't you know what's happening to the man who's fed you. . . ?"" Saccharine illustrations by Richard Cuffari don't help, and anyone gifted with this turkey come Christmas is hereby granted one ""Bah, humbug!"" for every ""HUFF-HUFF-HUFF-HUFF!

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday