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"A Child’s Christmas in Brooklyn," by Frank Crocitto (Candlepower, $10.95) is a unique, nostalgic collection of the author’s memories of his Italian-American Christmases on 81st Street and 13th Avenue.

Set in the 1940s, "A Child’s Christmas" recalls the holiday preparations in his family’s Dyker Heights home and all of the emotions they unleashed in a young boy: grandpa stringing up the lights (the importance of lights on a Dyker Heights street cannot be overstated), the aroma of grandma’s heavenly cooking, and his parents’ covert present stashing and wrapping.

Crocitto’s text, presented like poetry, is significantly enhanced by the gorgeous sepia-toned watercolor illustrations by Grady Kane-Horrigan.

"I called it ’A Child’s Christmas in Brooklyn’ though it’s not a children’s book, but a book for adults," writes Crocitto in his introduction. Here are two reasons why: halfway through the palm-sized book, Frankie hears the horrible rumor that Santa may not be real ("not ree-YULE!" chant the neighborhood boys).

The second cynical revelation is that the monsignor who delivers the sermon on Christmas Day "had dear friends among the mob" and "was a blatant embarrassm­ent," writes Crocitto. He neglects to mention whether the man was ever arrested or was proven to have mishandled church funds, quickly reverting back to recalling Christmas Day festivities. But this is a bizarre aside to an otherwise charming, humorous sketch of his family’s celebration.

"A Child’s Christmas in Brooklyn," available in hardcover or in an audio version on CD or cassette, can be ordered from Candlepower, P.O. Box 787, New Paltz, NY 12561, (845) 255-4076.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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