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The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
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The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  1,635 Ratings  ·  326 Reviews
In this hilarious (USA Today) national bestseller, Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry pens one of the warmest, most delightful Christmas stories ever.

The year is 1960, and the Christmas pageant at St. John's Episcopal Church is a very big deal. Doug Barnes is a shepherd this year, which is better than being a Three King, because you get to carry a stick. There are
Hardcover, 117 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published July 7th 2006)
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A Christmas Carol by Charles DickensHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussThe Night Before Christmas by Clement C. MooreThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Favorite Christmas Books
213th out of 796 books — 1,110 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonNight Angel by Lisa KesslerThe City of Falling Angels by John BerendtThe Causal Angel by Hannu RajaniemiThe Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Titles - Angels and Devils
17th out of 205 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 01, 2007 Beth rated it it was ok
Not very memorable.
Apr 25, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody.
Shelves: favorites, audiobook
This is a funny, charming, sweet, nostalgic Christmas story. I laughed - I cried. Get the audio version (read by Dave himself) for everyone on your Christmas list!
Dec 04, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: my-favorites
This book had me in tears from laughing so hard! My husband said it was funny to hear me giggle. This is a must read, especially if you are stressed from the holidays. Quick and Witty read.
Dec 13, 2008 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
Dave Barry's attempt to mimic what Jean Sheppard did with "A Christmas Story."

It has its moments but overall isn't quite as heartfelt or warm as the Sheppard story.

Part of this stems from the fact that Barry has to bring in a lot of plot threads for the wacky climax to the story, including the lead characters crush on the girl playing Mary, a church steeple full of bat guano and a new dog for Doug Barnes (the narrator) and his family.

I wonder if hearing Barry read the story might improve thin
Dec 13, 2008 Cheryl rated it liked it
What fun! I really needed this book after trying to slog through "Edgar Sawtelle" (which i JUST couldn't get into - - -i AM going to try that one again some day!!!).

This is a delightful little one hour read of a Christmas tale - - anyone 50+ will recognize the scenery and love it. Add to it the story of Walter, the dog, and you have a wonderfully warm, funny book.
Mar 28, 2009 Charlotte rated it it was ok
A reasonably cute, pleasant, and immediately forgettable Christmas story told in classic Dave Barry style. It only took me about half an hour to read as there are lots of photos and the print is very large. (The Barry family photos and vintage advertisements were much more entertaining than the actual story.) I don't mean to be a Grinch, but the whole time I was reading it, I was picturing the conversation between Dave Barry and his agent: "Dave, how about doing a Christmas book this year?" "Nah ...more
Dec 08, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, christmas
I saved this one for our drive to and from the Christmas Tree Farm...and it worked out perfectly! (just one CD) The boys LOVED it, (David included) and I really liked it too, even moreso w/them all laughing and enjoying it! (Owen asked if it was a series...good idea!)

It's about a kid, Douglas, his family, and friends and their church's annual Christmas play production. I liked that it was written that Doug is telling the story and while he was still a kid (not as a grown up). There are many funn
Jan 05, 2011 Tahleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny-books
What do a Christmas pageant, kids who like to goof around, the loss of a pet and the gain of a new one have in common? They're all key parts to this funny and sweet Christmas tale told in the signature voice of humorist Dave Barry. It's 1960, and Doug is cast in his church's Christmas pageant as a shepherd. But on Christmas Eve, things don't go quite as planned—all I'll say is that a dog and bat poop are involved.

This book takes maybe about an hour to read. It's quick, hilarious, and touching al
Nov 30, 2015 Mayda rated it really liked it
There is a lot going on in this little novel, but then it’s Christmas – a busy time even in the 60’s. The church Christmas pageant is a big deal, boys had crushes on girls but couldn’t show it, mom was busy getting everything perfect for Christmas, and though it’s never a good time for the family dog to be old and sick, but it’s even worse when that happens on Christmas Eve. Dave Barry does a good job of inserting humor in sad situations, making everything seem all right. And maybe dogs DO go to ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
What a hoot! We read this while traveling to our church mission trip in Kentucky. A quick read, a bit off-color, but heart-warming as well as humorous! A nice Christmas read - could be done in one hour, out-loud. The author takes you back to family in the 60s, small town, small church experiences, as well as the central role family pets play in a child's life.
Sep 25, 2011 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that wants to read a book that will make them feel really good when they are done.
Recommended to Jenny by: Nobody. I bought the book on sale when I walked into a bookstore that was having a closing sale.
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book! It is a quick read by Dave Barry and when you're done you are kind of sad and wish there was more. This book made me laugh, and cry, sometimes simultaneously. You get to know the characters very quickly and I felt like I was reliving some things that happened to Doug and the other characters in the book. It is a very special book that takes place during the Christmas holidays, but one that can be read any time of the year and MAKE you feel like it is C ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 22, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christmas, humor
In the 1960 St. John's Episcopal Church's Christmas pageant, Doug Barnes is going to play one of the shepherds, which is cool because he gets to carry a stick. He has to be on his best behavior as he and his friends are already on thin ice with the pageant director on account of their goofing around at the 1959 pageant, which resulted in the Three Kings presenting the baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and a Rolodex. Meanwhile, Doug has a crush on the girl playing the Virgin Mary who o ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really is a two part book with the first part more about a boy just growing up at the Junior High level and inner thoughts of girls and Christmas pageants and life in general. It is not deep just a funny side as a teen age sees it and is not a very long book, a very quick read. I doubt I would have given the book a 5 star based on this first half. But the second half continues and ends on one particular Christmas and Christmas pageant. And this is where Frank and Walter (both dogs) show up. ...more
Dec 25, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: funny
This is more of a short story than a stand-alone novel or even a novella, since the 100 or so pages are interspersed with a ton of pictures, but it was still full of Dave Barry's trademark humor and a really sweet, touching story on top of that. It had me laughing out loud multiple times, and I particularly enjoyed the scene where Dad is trying to put together the bicycle. Priceless! My only problem is that it is so short and I've already read Barry's other novels. Give us more, sir!! That's my ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Audrey rated it really liked it
Very funny and sweet. The best part were the great vintage photos--loved them! It's a fun, quick read for December when you just need a good laugh, in an hour or less.
Dec 07, 2012 Stephanie rated it liked it
This is a fun Christmas read. Dave Barry is, as always, hilarious. The story is a cross between "A Christmas Story" and "The Best Christmas Pageant ever." I read it aloud to my 9-year old (just skipped a page about girls and bras), and he loved it. The characters and events and intermittent vintage photos were endearing.
Books Kids Like
Nov 06, 2013 Books Kids Like rated it really liked it
Shelves: barry-dave
What ends up as a fairly wonderful Christmas book begins as a boyhood remembrance of growing up in the 60s. The author's description of junior high school girls developing bosoms was a bit much and didn't have anything to do with the story of one year's Christmas pageant. Except, I guess, for the fact that the protagonist, Doug Barnes, had a crush on one of these girls. The real story tells about the year when Doug played a shepherd and his little sister, Becky, was an angel in the Episcopal chu ...more
Shazza Maddog
Dec 19, 2013 Shazza Maddog rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished
I have always been fond of Dave Barry stories (though a little goes a long way for me). I spotted this book on the holiday shelf at the library and grabbed it up. Whether it is an actual memoir or a fantasized memoir remains to the reader, but it is quite full of Barryisms, and also sweet.

Doug Barnes is going to play a Shepherd in his church's play this year, rather than one of the Three Kings as he did last year. He and his friends, Mike and Pete, are on the director's short list, though, beca
Dec 19, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
I needed something to make me smile, so I picked up this book - you cannot read Dave Barry's stuff and not be amused (in my opinion).

It's Christmas pageant time. Now, last year there was a little incident during the pageant thanks to Doug, Phil and Mike - great friends who happened to be the three wise men at the time. So this year, after parental lectures and evil looks from the pageant director, the three found themselves cast as shepherds. All they had to do was wait for their cue, leave the
Katie Tatton
Feb 07, 2014 Katie Tatton rated it liked it
If The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and A Christmas Story had a baby, The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog would be it. Dave Barry tells the story of a middle school-age boy, the family dog, the yearly Christmas pageant and the mayhem that ensues. The story is charming and funny and moves along quickly. I'm sure my ten year old boys would like this one.
Thomas Holbrook
Dec 09, 2014 Thomas Holbrook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I was looking for a “new” Christmas story that would be read aloud as annual Christmas event. When I saw this book reviewed (it has been published for several years) it seemed this was the book for which I had been looking. Having read some of Mr. Barry’s work, I expected good writing, an easily believed story and moments of such hilarity as to leave me breathless. I was not disappointed.
The setting for this yarn is December 1960 in Asquont, New York. Doug Barnes is a shepherd in the St. John’
Make sure you have Kleenex when you start. There will be sad tears and happy tears among the silent chuckling and couple laugh out loud moments as you turn the pages. I don't usually read books with dogs in them. It disturbs my inner karma... (view spoiler) Dave has some wild tales and I think I need to read more of them. What a hoot this o ...more
Audra Spiven
Jan 01, 2015 Audra Spiven rated it liked it
Not much to say about this book; just recording it for posterity. My dad handed me this book a few days ago because I said I wanted to finish a couple more books before the end of 2014. He said this one was funny and would not take me very long.

He was right. It took me between 30 and 45 minutes to read it, and it was very funny. Honestly, it reminded me of the book I used to read as a kid, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, except this story was a LOT more wholesome than that one, or at least the
Marilyn Fontane
Jan 23, 2015 Marilyn Fontane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christmas
Dave Barry takes us back to the simple life of 1960 in his light, fluffy Christmas story. His young narrator, Dave Barnes, is playing the role of a shepherd in the St. John's Episcopal Church Christmas pageant in Asquont, New York. He tells funny stories about other events at the church, last year's Christmas play, an Easter service when the bats came out of the bell tower, before narrating this year's events. But this year Frank, the family dog, died just before they left for the program, and D ...more
Michael Kane
Feb 13, 2015 Michael Kane rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
A book by Dave Barry; what's not to like? This is a bit different, a bit longer than a short story but not by much but it's got enough laughs for a novella. Funny, poignant, a story of a Christmas Pageant, a faithful dog (Frank, not Walter) and a view of the events of one Christmas. Add to this pubescent boys being silly and snarky as only pubescent boys can be, a pretty girl and a bell tower filled with bats and, as one would imagine, bat guano. What could go wrong? Don't ask, just read. And en ...more
Donna Robbins
Oct 30, 2015 Donna Robbins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Dave Berry
Recommended to Donna by: Goodreads Audiobooks group
This was a cute kid's Christmas story, featuring Dave Barry's trademark, low brow humor; ultimately a bit too sentimental for me but I'm decades older than the target audience.

I love Barry's writing, everything from memoirs, to comic novels to the short pieces published in the Funny Times; the stuff he's written for kids though, not so much. It's not that the humor is too young - heck, Barry's humor always tends (way!) towards the juvenile - rather, it's the tone; this story, like Peter and the
Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews
Dec 06, 2015 Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club, 2015
This is a very fast read and was a perfect choice for our book club to read considering it is the holidays and crazy busy! The book is about 116 pages but a bunch of those are actually photographs, so the story takes up maybe 70 pages?

I laughed throughout this book at the different antics of kids growing up in the 60's. I also thought the comment was funny about his dad being in advertising and mom saying that meant he drank martinis all day - this reminds me of the show Mad Men because it is tr
Dec 06, 2015 Cissa rated it it was amazing
Life happens, even when Christmas approaches. And things can get complicated.

This is a very short book, but lots of fun. I did laugh out loud, and it also made me sniffle- which means it's an excellent holiday read by my lights.

More a slice of life than a plot per se. Great characterization, including the dogs. The narrator is a middle-school boy, with his sensibilities.

I enjoyed it.
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Dave Barry is a humor columnist. For 25 years he was a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Many people are still trying to figure out how this happened.
Dave has also written a total of 30 books, although virtually none of them contain useful information. Two of his books were used as
More about Dave Barry...

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