Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Book Review: The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean

Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite all-time Christmas books with you!

The Forgotten Carols, by Michael McLean
1991, 158p
My Rating=5 stars
Source: Own a copy

For more than a decade, Michael McLean's "The Forgotten Carols" has entertained sold-out audiences around the country. This endearing story and beloved music have truly become a Christmas classic. The holiday tale of Uncle John and Connie Lou have touched the hearts of millions and taught all of us about the true meaning of Christmas.

In 1991, I had just returned home from a mission for my church to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and I had very little money. I saw an ad for a new Christmas program entitled "The Forgotten Carols." Tickets were super cheap so I bought tickets for my 3 youngest siblings and me. We loved it so I bought the book which also has the music for the songs in the back. I haven't seen the show since that first year and I'm pretty sure it's much more grand these days but I'm grateful for the wonderful memories when I read the story or listen to the music. The songs are about some of the lesser known or talked about aspects of the story of Christ's birth. 

It had actually been a few years since I last read the story and listened to my CD and I fell in love with this all over again! Once again, my children groaned when I told them we were going to read it and they thought it would be way too long, but they became interested in the story and really enjoyed it. We heard the song "Homeless" on the radio while we were driving around one day and they wanted me to turn it up so they could hear it better. I love it when that happens!

This brings me to another of my favorite children's Christmas books:

The Forgotten Carols: A Christmas Miracle for Isaac and Eliza, by Michael McLean; Illustrated by Brandon Dorman
2010, 32p
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Own a copy

For over a generation, The Forgotten Carols have enchanted faithful listeners during the Christmas season with songs and stories that have brought the Nativity story to life. In this delightful family storybook, songwriter and author Michael McLean continues the Forgotten Carols tradition with an original tale about an extraordinary visitor who brings a miracle to the Christmas season of two young children. Beautiful music, thoughtful narration, and delightful artwork combine in this keepsake edition that will be a favorite for children and parents alike. Includes pop-out Forgotten Carols ornaments for families to hang on the Christmas tree while they read the book. A bonus music CD features several favorite carols from the book. Great gift idea for Christmas. Beautiful full-color illustrations make this book a keepsake.

I came across this book a couple of years ago and picked up a copy for each of my children. Isaac and Eliza's dad was a soldier who had died the year before so this is their first Christmas without him and they're sad. They can't afford a tree this year but their mother brought home a wreath. Their mother is a nurse who needs to work Christmas Eve and a woman who works in the maternity ward of the hospital volunteered to watch them. She shows up with a backpack and, as she and the children decorate their wreath, she shares with them the forgotten carols. 

This is a sweet story which has more meaning once you've read The Forgotten Carols (which is what prompted me to read that book with my children). It's a lot shorter than the first book and there aren't as many carols. The illustrations are beautiful (as usual--I love Brandon Dorman!) and the pages with the songs fold out and include all the words which makes it easy to sing along. 

If you love The Forgotten Carols, you'll also enjoy Isaac and Eliza's story! 

[I notice the description says that there are ornaments to hang on the tree. There weren't any with the books I got so I'm not sure what those look like.]

Michael McLean is incredibly talented. If you aren't familiar with him, you can check out his website here.

For 25 years Michael McLean has been changing lives with his tender songs and candid messages. He has shared the “hard stories” — those from his own life and those of others — and has sung us all the way to light at the end of the tunnel. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that for every person, twist, or turn along life’s path, Michael McLean has the perfect song.

McLean released his debut album, You’re Not Alone, in 1983 and with every song that followed, his lyrics filled voids, encouraged love, and offered hope. Now, more than 25 albums later, his musical legacy has not only resonated in the hearts of thousands, but continues to be a standard for those seeking meaning and peace.

To celebrate this exciting anniversary, McLean released a boxed set of six albums in 2008. The definitive collection, 25, is filled with his most beloved songs from the last 25 years, many of which were out-of-print, as well as a handful of brand-new songs on each album.

With a background in film, McLean began early in his career making commercials for radio and television, receiving numerous national and international awards for advertising. Such awards included the prestigious Clio Award, National Addy Award, New York Ad Club’s Andy Award, two National Emmy Finalists Awards, and the Bronze Lion at the Cannes Film Festival. He later used his film experience to produce and direct several films including, Together Forever, The Prodigal Son, and Mr. Krueger’s Christmas starring film legend Jimmy Stewart.

Ever the engaging performer and master storyteller, McLean has shared his beloved Christmas musical, The Forgotten Carols, with more than a half-million people across the country since 2001. With humor and heart, “The Carols” has become a beloved tradition for thousands of families who mark the beginning of their holiday season with this magical musical.

Celebrating the Light, another of McLean’s musicals, ran for five seasons at the Promised Valley Playhouse in Salt Lake City and The Garden, an allegorical oratorio written with Merrill Jenson and Bryce Neubert, opened in Jerusalem and has been performed across the country as well as in France, South America, and Russia. His popular sea-faring musical The Ark enjoyed a New York City debut in 2005.

In addition to his music and films, McLean has also authored four books with accompanying CDs – Distant Serenade, Hold on the Light Will Come: And Other Lessons My Songs Have Taught Me, The Forgotten Carols, and most recently, From God’s Arms to My Arms to Yours.

McLean and his wife Lynne have three children and live in California.

Brandon Dorman is the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Wizard. He graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he studied fine art and illustration. He and his wife, Emily, have three children and live in Washington, where he enjoys working as a freelance illustrator. His work has appeared in children’s books and on numerous covers, including Pingo, The Candy Shop War, and the Fablehaven series. See more of Brandon Dorman’s artwork at


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