Christmas in Canaan

Christmas in Canaan

by Kenny Rogers, Donald Davenport


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A heartwarming novel to be shared by families at Christmastime...or anytime.

In the quiet, rural town of Canaan, Texas, a clash between two classmates -- one, a tough, white farm boy, and the other, a bright, black aspiring writer -- spins into an unlikely friendship. When the clever arrangement their families devise to teach DJ and Rodney a lesson seems hopeless, their cooperative effort to heal a wounded puppy helps them move past an unsettled battle. Not surprisingly, the truce that follows becomes an amiable kinship. Before long, a tragic circumstance serves to bind the boys even more tightly. And through the trying times that engulf them, largely the weighty shadow of racism cast by one bitter neighbor, the boys grow up like brothers.

But can life in Canaan ever really deliver the milk and honey of the Promised Land? It is amidst the magic of a Christmas they'll never forget that the boys learn a lesson about family, hope, and love. And they will know for the rest of their lives, when times are hard, that there will always be Christmas in Canaan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060007478
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/26/2004
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.67(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Kenny Rogers is one of the bestselling artists of all time with more than 120 million albums sold worldwide. He has endeared himself to music lovers around the world with hit songs like "Lady," "The Gambler," "Islands in the Stream," and "Love or Something Like It." He is a three-time Grammy Award winner, and has won eighteen American Music Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and five Country Music Association Awards.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

DJ and Rodney

The school bus lurched forward, sending DJ Burton off balance and sprawling into the nearest empty seat. It was enough to cause Rodney Freeman to peek over the top of his book, surprised that the Burton boy had taken a seat so near the back of the bus.

The truth was, Rodney didn't mind sitting in the back of the bus; in fact, he liked it. He could settle into his usual corner, spread out his books and read. Miss Eunice, his grandmother, kept a farm on the outskirts of Canaan, the farthest point from town on the whole route, so there was always time to read. The bus was perfect for that.

There were no laws requiring Rodney Freeman or any other of the handful of black children be kept separate from the rest. The government had seen to that. But early that spring of 1960 what remained in the small town of Canaan, Texas, was an uneasy truce, a truce that served to hold the town together by separating the groups of people who lived there. Not that any of that mattered to Rodney.

Miss Eunice had surprised him with a copy of James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer just the night before, a special illustrated edition, and even the unexpected arrival of DJ Burton and the grinding of gears as the bus got up to speed didn't warrant much more than a glance over the top of the cover.

DJ was big for his age, towheaded and with a broad face and eyes so pale blue they were almost gray. No sooner had he slouched into his seat than he began digging through scraps of paper in his book bag, searching for his unfinished homework.

"Hey, DJ, you still doin' homework?" Jimmy Ray Thompson asked,peering over the back of his seat.

"Yeah, well, how am I supposed to finish anything when my dad gives me chores till dark? And who asked you anyway?" DJ grumbled, hoping the others would see how busy he was and leave him alone. He hated always being the one kid in class who never had his homework done on time. He hated being called on to read in front of the others and hearing them snicker when he couldn't make out the words. Mostly he hated having to work so hard doing all those stupid chores for his dad on his stupid farm in a stupid town called Canaan.

He found his geography homework at the bottom of his bag. "What's the capital city of New York?" he read the question aloud and sighed. He could look up the answer, but the very thought of having to look up something that seemed like such common knowledge pained him. It was the kind of answer that deserved to be shared.

"Sarah!" he called to his sister. She was sitting with a clutch of girls her age near the front of the bus.

"What?" Sarah answered without turning.

He could see her ponytail bobbing as she chattered with her girlfriends and tried to ignore him.

"What's the capital of New York?"

"Look it up like you're supposed to," she said. Her voice was caked with such scorn, it sent her two friends into a fit of giggles.

Jimmy Ray turned in his seat to join the discussion.

"Why didn't you ask me?" he asked. Jimmy Ray considered himself a source of important information and was hurt he had been so easily overlooked.

"You know that?" DJ asked.

"I sure do. The capital of New York is New York." His voice rang with proud authority.

But the answer only confused DJ.

"Just New York?" DJ asked again. "Or New York City?"

"Either one," Jimmy Ray answered. "They're the same place."

Butch Waller shook his head violently in disagreement.

"They ain't the same," Butch argued. "One's a city and the other's a state."

"There's a New York that's a city, too," Jimmy Ray insisted.

"That's New York City," Butch insisted right back.

"Ah, you're crazy," Jimmy Ray muttered. "There ain't three."

DJ looked at his two colleagues with a growing helplessness. What had been a simple request to help him cheat on his homework had now escalated into a full-fledged discussion on geography.

"There's a plain New York that's a city, and there's a New York City that's a city and New York that's a state?" DJ was frustrated.

"No, Jimmy Ray don't know his butt from a beehive," Butch announced. "The plain New York is the only one that's a state."

"It's Albany." The voice came from somewhere in the back of the bus.

"What?" asked DJ, turning quickly in the direction of the sound.

"It's Albany," the voice said again.

Suddenly every face on the bus was looking in the direction of the voice, which came from behind the cover of The Deerslayer.

"What did you say?" DJ demanded.

Rodney Freeman lowered the book and looked out over the cover at the faces staring back at him.

"The capital of New York is Albany."

There was a brief silence, followed first by a giggle from one of Sarah's friends and then by a more malevolent snicker from Butch Waller.

"Hey, DJ, that colored boy's smarter 'n you.

DJ spun back around, the first flush of red beginning to creep up his neck like the mercury in a storefront thermometer.

"H-h-he ain't smarter," DJ stammered. "He just thinks he's smart. He's guessing, that's all."

It wasn't so much that the boy knew the answer; DJ had his doubts about that. It wasn't even that he was one of "them back of the busers," at least not entirely. More than anything else it was the fact that this scrawny kid, who didn't do a thing except read all day, was so confident about the answer.

"That's a pucky pile," DJ snarled at Rodney. "How do you know the capital of New York is Albany?"

"My grandma told me, that's how."

"I ain't never heard of your grandma and I ain't never heard of Albany." Then, DJ took up his pencil and began to write on the crumpled sheet of homework paper ...

Christmas in Canaan. Copyright © by Kenny Rogers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Christmas 1975
Book 1Enemies
Chapter 1DJ and Rodney5
Chapter 2Miss Eunice21
Chapter 3The Punishment32
Chapter 4The Girl in the Quilt45
Chapter 5Bandit58
Chapter 6Earl Hammer81
Book 2Friends
Chapter 1The Discovery103
Chapter 2The Choice119
Chapter 3The Wrinkle Pine139
Chapter 4Some Christmas164
Chapter 5Shoup's177
Chapter 6Buddy Hammer191
Chapter 7The Gathering221
Chapter 8Moses in Canaan240
Chapter 9Charlane264
Chapter 10The Disappearance278
Book 3The Promise
Chapter 1Opening Night293
Chapter 2Christmas in Canaan309

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Christmas in Canaan 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book years ago in a used bookstore and it has become an annual tradition! The story reminds us that just because we have difficult times - it doesn't mean that we can't have wonderful times and memories. It is a funny and heartwarming story of unselfish love and compassion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago