Welcome!

Christmas Eve 1996: my dad reads the story to us with my son, Henry (in his pirate phase), in his lap.

Christmas Eve 1996: my dad reads the story to us with my son, Henry (in his pirate phase), in his lap.

I'm Betsy of That's So Enterprises (proud soon-to-be publishers of Mr. Dog's Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn) and I'm delighted to share this introduction to our book and our story.

Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, my dad has read aloud to my family a wonderful story, "Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn," by Albert Bigelow Paine. Originally published in 1898, the story centers on a group of animals who reside at The Hollow Tree Inn and their rascally friend, Mr. Dog, who decides to surprise the Hollow Tree folks by playing Santa Claus.

My dad reads the story from a lovely old 1915 volume called Little Folk's Christmas Stories and Plays by Ada M. Skinner—and my dad's parents read the same story to him and his brother, from the very same volume, when they were little boys. It's a tradition now enjoyed by three full generations of my family (my dad, my brother and me, and now our children).

More than three generations and going strong: my family's original 1915 copy of Ada M. Skinner's Little Folk's Christmas Stories and Plays. Photo by Sarah Deragon/Portraits to the People.

More than three generations and going strong: my family's original 1915 copy of Ada M. Skinner's Little Folk's Christmas Stories and Plays. Photo by Sarah Deragon/Portraits to the People.

The story has always felt like our little secret, but earlier this year my brother Jason had a brilliant suggestion: Why not republish this long out-of-print tale with new illustrations so it can be enjoyed by a much wider audience and many future generations? Wonderful new developments in the world of independent book publishing—along with my experience as an art director and my enthusiasm for tackling big new projects—made this all seem like a very viable and fine idea... And so that's just what we made up our minds to do!

We have been incredibly fortunate to engage award-winning artist Adam McCauley as our illustrator and we could not be more pleased with Adam's interpretation of the characters and the setting. His beautiful illustrations pay homage to the Victorian era aesthetic of the story while introducing a contemporary touch that's just what we hoped for. I'm excited to be able to give you sneak previews of his illustrations like the one on our home page, and more to come soon here on Mr. Dog's Blog!

In addition to a bit of the artwork, I look forward to sharing lots more with you as we head toward our publication date in the Fall of 2014. Loyal readers of Mr. Dog's Blog will learn more about our illustrator Adam, about the amazingly talented Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine, about family traditions, adventures in publishing, the story's characters and much more. Please check back regularly, and please share your own cherished holiday traditions, favorite stories, and more with us in the comments.

Lastly, we hope you'll tell your friends! In addition to this website and Mr. Dog's Christmas newsletter, you can also follow and share Mr. Dog on Twitter. [3/21/14 update: Mr. Dog is also on Facebook!] We are so thrilled to be able to introduce this story to new readers and we appreciate your help spreading the word.

Merry merry!
Betsy