Fiction Book Review: Christmas With Tucker by Greg Kincaid – Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie Inspired

Fiction Book Review: Christmas With Tucker by Greg Kincaid – Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie Inspired

You know you’re in for an emotional read with every Hallmark-inspired story. Greg Kincaid continues the tradition with his new book, Christmas with Tuckerprompted by the bestseller, A dog named Christmaswhich in 2009 became a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, attracting over 12 million viewers in the US.

Sixty-something George McCray is expecting a Christmas visit from his mother at his dairy farm in Crossing Trails, Kansas. Now she suffers from memory loss. To facilitate her recollection, he has selected key McCrae family memorabilia, including the collar of a dog named Tucker, his grandfather’s tin cup, and the last puzzle his father, John, gave to Grandma Cora.

These objects come to life as George recounts the winter of 1962 as he awaits his mother’s arrival. Then, at the age of thirteen, George turned from a boy into a young man.

In June, George’s father was killed in a tractor accident on the farm, rocking the McCray family. George lived with his parents, sisters Hannah and Tricia, and grandfather Beau and grandmother Cora McCray.

Late summer saw George’s mother and college-age sisters move back to Minnesota to be near her parents. Everyone, including George, thought it best that he stay on the farm until Christmas, help run the McCray Dairy Farm; and to adjust to life without his father.

Kincaid draws you deep into George’s young world; and describes the impact a four-year-old Irish Setter has had on his life.

Neighbor Frank Thorne asks the McCrays to look after his unnamed dog while he serves a sentence for drunkenness and disorderly conduct in the local jail. Learn how Tucker earns his name while staying with the McCrays.

George is initially reluctant to befriend the dog, who he regularly sees from afar before boarding his school bus each morning; tied to a circular chain. Before long, the two became inseparable, sharing a warm bed together during the cold Kansas nights. Tucker is loyal to George as he often reflects on the loss of his father and the unfairness of life.

Middle America, simpler times prevail. Grandma Cora is leisurely working at the puzzle table. She constructed challenging mosaics that her son John provided until her death. Grandpa Bo drinks every day from the tin cup that has been in the McCray family for generations. He also makes a leather collar; showing “Tucker McCray”, once, due to a turn of events, George acquired ownership of the Irish Setter.

Experience the realities of farm life. George gets up every day at 4:30 a.m. to help Grandpa Bo milk the cows before he goes to school. It’s a generational chore that he inherited after his father’s untimely death.
It also makes sense, the tendency of cattle to walk on frozen lake water, which often results in death when the ice breaks and they cannot escape. Kincaid describes George’s harrowing attempt to save the animals while enduring near-freezing temperatures and bleeding, bare feet.

Cherokee County, Kansas, experienced one of its worst winter storms days before Christmas. With roads blocked by snow, many residents are left to fend for themselves. Grandpa Bo decides it’s time to teach George how to drive a huge machine called a backer (today’s grader) to help clear the roads. “My grandfather was giving me a new adult rulebook so I could shake off the childish primer that had so frustrated me that year. I learned to become suspicious of rules rooted in law and my own needs, and instead to respect rules destroyed by truth and concern for others.”

The Christmas spirit hints at George, given his father’s death and ambivalent feelings about returning to Minnesota to live with his mother: “Christmas, I thought it wasn’t going to be good this year. How could it be when you’re thirteen years old and you knew, I just knew, you weren’t going to get what you wanted?”

Christmas with Tucker ends with a city-wide celebration of the season that is no different It’s a wonderful life. Take some time during the holidays and read Kincaid’s 180 page short story that is sure to enhance your Christmas time.

Author Greg Kincaid lives on a farm in Kansas; and is an advocate for pet adoption. To find adoptable pets near you, visit

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