Cover image for Christmas in Canaan
Christmas in Canaan
Rogers, Kenny.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2002.
Physical Description:
325 pages ; 20 cm
In the early 1960s in a rural, racially-charged Texas town, a poor white boy struggling to get through school and a book-loving black classmate find the common ground on which to build true friendship.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.4 8.0 64594.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

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I reckon there's nuthin' worth learnin' from the coloreds, DJ answered, again turning to the window.That right? his father asked 'Nuthin' worth learning from them folks?Yeah, DJ said. Nuthin'. Completely nuthin'.In the quiet, rural town of Canaan, Texas, a clash between two classmates -- one, a tough farm boy, and the other, a bright, black, aspiring writer -- spins into anunlikely 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.But can life in Canaan lived under the shadow of racism 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 that when times are hard, there will always be Christmas in Canaan.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. The lives of two Texas boys are forever altered one morning in the 1960s after one has a run-in with the other on the school bus. Rodney, a quiet bookworm, sits at the rear of the bus because he's black. DJ, a white boy frantically finishing his homework needs to know a state capital. When Rodney supplies the right answer, DJ is teased that he is dumber than Rodney. A fight ensues between the boys, and DJ's father decides the wisest punishment is to have the boys live together, two days at each house. Rodney's grandmother agrees. The kids find the experience very trying until a wounded dog draws them together. Then the friendship is sealed, and the gentle narrative chronicles a sweet, lifelong bond. The story culminates in racial unrest that puts Rodney's life in jeopardy. The holiday backdrop makes this good seasonal fare, and the engaging premise, resonant narrative, and believable characters will reach a wide audience. --Shelley Townsend-Hudson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Country and western star Rogers and co-writer Davenport deliver a novel of interracial friendship that opens in the 1960s. As punishment for fighting-after Texas farmer's son DJ tells off bookworm Rodney "for actin' so smart for a colored"-the two boys must spend several days in each other's home. A rocky start gives way to friendship, charted here as the novel tracks the boys' growth through turbulent times to manhood. Some of the plot twists are more akin to the neatly made stuff of TV drama. For instance, a meager but memorable Christmas in which the only gifts are catalogue pictures is recreated years later (after Rodney has achieved success as a playwright), this time with real gifts. Even so, the writing is able and the narrative marked by a number of genuinely moving moments. All ages. (Oct.)' (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-A poor white boy who is academically challenged and shares his neighbors' racial prejudice becomes friendly with a book-loving black boy when they rescue and raise an injured pup together. Set in East Texas in the early 1960s with a flash-forward to the boys' adulthood in 1975, this well-intentioned novel labors under the weight of its message of tolerance. The celebrity author's collaborator is a screenwriter; and, indeed, this treatment might have been more successful as a television holiday special. Here the characters remain flat and one-dimensional; the plot, predictable. The dialogue, particularly that of the black characters, is unconvincing. Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory (Knopf, 1989) is a more satisfying story of a Christmas in a rural past, celebrated by unlikely companions with more affection than money.-V. W. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Christmas in Canaan 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. Excerpted from Christmas in Canaan by Kenny Rogers All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Christmas 1975
Book 1 Enemies
Chapter 1 DJ and Rodneyp. 5
Chapter 2 Miss Eunicep. 21
Chapter 3 The Punishmentp. 32
Chapter 4 The Girl in the Quiltp. 45
Chapter 5 Banditp. 58
Chapter 6 Earl Hammerp. 81
Book 2 Friends
Chapter 1 The Discoveryp. 103
Chapter 2 The Choicep. 119
Chapter 3 The Wrinkle Pinep. 139
Chapter 4 Some Christmasp. 164
Chapter 5 Shoup'sp. 177
Chapter 6 Buddy Hammerp. 191
Chapter 7 The Gatheringp. 221
Chapter 8 Moses in Canaanp. 240
Chapter 9 Charlanep. 264
Chapter 10 The Disappearancep. 278
Book 3 The Promise
Chapter 1 Opening Nightp. 293
Chapter 2 Christmas in Canaanp. 309