Keeping Christmas Magic by Anna and Gunnar Counselman
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 38 pages
Genre: Children’s Book
Publisher: Mascot; Release Date: August 2021
Tour dates: November 26 to December 6
Content Rating: PG – It is a book about how to keep Christmas alive when your kids find out the truth about Santa.
Shhhh, don’t tell! Keeping Christmas Magic reveals the true story of Santa Claus, asking you to become a Christmas Magic-Keeper.
Buy the Book: Mascot ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon ~ add to goodreads
Anna and Gunnar Counselman
For a Christmas book, Is there a reason your book cover is so understated?
We don’t want kids interested in it. If a parent forgets to put it away, or accidentally puts it on the kids shelf, we want them to skip right over it. Kids book covers tend to be really colorful and bright. We wanted ours to look more like it belongs in a law library, or like it’s an old family heirloom.
Who Designed the Cover?
You know, it’s a funny story. We knew we wanted the cover to be something that kids wouldn’t be interested in, because it’s a secret. Our worst fear is that a child might read the book before they and their parents are ready. We imagined a leather-bound volume with understated and highly-stylized fonts that kids would struggle to read. But the only example we could find was the typical law library book and we knew that wasn’t right.
But then Gunnar swiped his dad’s copy of The Princess Bride to read to their son Tristan. It’s one of the family’s favorite books and movies and so Anna ordered grandpa another copy on Amazon – more of a coffee table book. And the copy that she found had the coolest cover. So, we designed the cover in homage to S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.
The book includes a signature page for kids to sign. What is its purpose?
The first half of the book is a teaser for the story in the second half of the book. But to get the “real story of Santa”, kids have to sign a pledge to keep it a secret. In so doing, they become “Christmas Magic Keepers”, like a secret society that’s responsible for maintaining the magic of Christmas. We try to explain that the magic of Santa is “love”, that Santa so loved to see kids happy, that he spent his life making toys and bringing them joy. Parents took over when he got too old and frail to keep it up. We just love that idea that when you sign his name, and take a bite of the cookie, that a little part of Santa’s love has survived inside you. It’s been said that as long as a person is remembered, they never really die. Well somewhere in history, there was someone who made toys for kids and gave them out at the height of winter when kids probably needed joy the most. His legend survives today and we think it’s amazing to get to be a small part of it.
A portion of your book sales goes to charity. Can you elaborate?
Gunnar was an active-duty Marine from 1999-2003and comes from a long line of Marines stretching back to Dec 9, 1941. And since the Marine Corps has been running the Toys for Tots campaign for the last generation or two, we thought it would be a great organization to support. So, 1% of revenues go to Toys for Tots.
Having been married for a decade, did you learn anything interesting about each other through collaborating on the book?
Ha! Yes. We learned that Gunnar is great at getting to a pretty good solution to most problems quickly. But we also learned that Anna’s process is slower, and more deliberate and yields much better and more refined creative output. It’s a bit of a metaphor for our marriage. Gunnar gets to 80% quickly, then Anna noodles, takes her time, obsesses about the detail and brings us across the finish line.
We use this learning every day when we clean the kitchen…well most days anyways. Gunnar does the blitz clean and gets it to “fine”, then Anna does the final detail. It’s made our marriage stronger.
Do you remember how excited you felt at Christmastime when you were growing up? I sure do. My whole family got together to exchange gifts and have our Christmas dinner together.
When I was young, my brother in law (who was more like a brother since he married myoldest sister when I was only 4yrs. old) used to dress up like Santa Clause. When we’d hear the “Sleigh Bells” we’d peak out the window and see Santa walking outside and get so excited that we actually saw him. So yes, I believed in Santa for quite a few years.
When my friends or other kids would say that Santa wasn’t real I’d tell them that yes he was, I had seen him many times on Christmas Eve! I loved Christmas and still can feel the excitement in me today from all those great memories.
But, at some point as you’re getting older, you do start to realize that the presents under the tree are from your parents, while leaving them with the idea that there really is a Santa, but that he has now passed the gift giving on to your parents.
The illustrations in the book are cute, and they are very colorful. The cover is beautiful!
I think this is a great way to explain to kids who are starting to question whether there is a Santa or not!
Meet the Authors:
Anna and Gunnar are the husband-and-wife team behind Keeping Christmas Magic. Anna immigrated from Russia at age 12 and began her American journey in Swampscott, MA, attending Boston University before moving out to California to pursue her entrepreneurial career which has culminated in her co-founding Upstart, an AI lending platform.
A third-generation Marine, Gunnar grew up pretty much everywhere there’s a Marine base before going to Cornell for undergrad deploying as a Human Intelligence Officer to Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Bosnia before attending Harvard for business school. Gunnar’s entrepreneurial career has focused in education software and services where he’s founded and invested in a handful of companies including his most recent company, Array.
When their then-six-year-old son Tristan started asking hard questions about Santa, they didn’t have good answer. Wanting to keep Christmas as magical as possible for as long as possible they looked for a children’s book to help and when they couldn’t find one, they wrote it. Originally, the poem was just for Tristan and his baby sister Sasha, but some close friends convinced them to submit it for publishing and the more they worked on the story, the more they felt like it needed to be told. They hope that the book does for parents around the world, what’s it’s done for them, help make an otherwise difficult conversation a beautiful experience instead.
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