Christmas without 'A Christmas Carol'? Now, there's a Scroogish idea.


Charles Dickens' short novel may be a century and a half old, but it still resonates in the hearts and minds of Baltimoreans when December rolls around.

"It's one of the books most in demand at this time of the year," says spokeswoman Averil Kadis of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, which carries 180 copies of the book, 22 cassettes and two LPs. "Parents tend to ask for an adapted version -- one that younger children could read."

"A Christmas Carol" was a big seller when it was first published in 1843, and it remains so today. "We've probably sold 100 or more copies in just the past weeks," says Dee Peeler of Greetings & Readings in Towson.

There seems to be a version of the book for almost any taste, ranging from an abridged rendition that sells for $4.95 (a popular stocking stuffer) to the lavishly illustrated anniversary edition put out this year by Yale University Press that goes for $30. For the very young set, Borders in Towson sells for $14.95 a lift-flap, pop-up book, says spokeswoman Debbie Middlestadt.

If the novel isn't enough to sustain you, there's always "A Christmas Carol Cookbook," published by Abbeville Press and selling for $7.95. Under such headings as "The Tea with Marley's Ghost" and "Tart Trifles and Sundry Sweets," the ardent Dickens lover can find recipes for Tiny Tim's Mini Shepherd's Pie and Horn of Plenty Potted Shrimp -- the latter, no doubt, contributing to Scrooge's peevish disposition.

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