The Goblins and the Gravedigger: A Forgotten Dickens



Book: The Goblins and the Gravedigger: A Forgotten Dickens

Authors: Kenneth L. Chumbley and Tonya Clarkson McCain

Publisher: Adelaide Books, 2019

ISBN-13: 978-1950437429

ISBN-10: 1950437426

Related website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Suitable for everyone

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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Chumbley, Kenneth L., and McCain, Tonya ClarksonThe Goblins and the Gravedigger: A Forgotten Dickens (Published in 2019 by Adelaide Books, 244 Fifth Ave., Suite D-27, New York City, NY  10001). Old Gabriel Grub is the sexton, or church gravedigger, in the English village of Dingley Dell.  His deceased father was reputed to have been a saint, but the son is perceived as an ill-mannered, intimidating, and insulting ne’er-do-well—yet, apparently a decent gravedigger.  On a snowy Christmas Eve, young Ben Britain, whose mother lies seriously ill and nigh unto death, and who makes a paltry living as a bootblack, is rushing home and accidentally runs into the drunken Gabriel, who is on his way to dig a grave.  In anger, Grub attacks the boy and beats him senseless with his spade before going on to the cemetery.  Ben barely makes it to his house, and his friends find him there unconscious.

Meanwhile, as the sexton is trying to dig the grave in the frozen ground, a group of goblins appear.  They grab Grub by the collar and sink with him through the earth to their large, subterranean hall for the purpose of teaching the gravedigger some important lessons.  Does Mrs. Britain live or die?  What happens to Ben?  And will Gabriel learn anything from his experiences?  Most everyone is familiar with Ebenezer Scrooge, the elderly miser haunted into holiday cheer in his 1843 story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but not many people know that Scrooge had a predecessor by the name of Gabriel Grub.  “The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” is chapter 29 of the Dickens collection titled The Pickwick Papers and written in 1836.

Dickens actually wrote four Christmas ghost stories.  Utilizing character names from other novels by Dickens to fill out the account, co-authors Ken Chumbley and Tonya Clarkson McCain use the outline of the original Goblins tale and adapt it to create this novella, The Goblins and the Gravedigger.   A Christmas Carol largely follows the same basic plot, so this scenario is a clear prelude to Scrooge.  There are, of course, some differences.  Unlike Scrooge, Grub does not immediately make amends to those he has in the past offended and decides to leave town, but he is clearly a changed man. The drama involves child abuse, which is a classic Dickens’ theme, and so is a darker story.  Yet there is nothing to keep a family from adding it to their holiday reading.

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