#786 – The Barking Family Christmas by Edward Beedham

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barking family christmas
The Barking Family Christmas
Written by Edward Beedham
Austin Macauley    10/30/2015
422 pages   Ages 8—12

“The Lake District was peaceful—then there was the Barking family . . . Dad Barking is an inventor taking any opportunity to disappear into his shed to bash some new contraption together but in the Barking Family Christmas he will have to be at his inventor’s best. Evil is closing in on Christmas and only the Barking family stands in its way.

The children, Napoleon, Wellington, and Josephine hold the family together in spite of their father’s dangerous genius and their mother’s odd sense of humor; together with their pet rhino, Roger, they help to defeat an army of intelligent squirrels and chase runaway Christmas trees before turning their attention to the dark evil that is about to ruin every child’s Christmas around the world.

Inventive and often hilarious, The Barking Family Christmas will confound your sense of what is real and plunge you into the world of Dad Barking—enter if you dare . . .” [back cover]

The Barking Family Christmas is not much more than a series of quirky, absurd stories with an undercurrent of plot in the way of three escaped criminals. Often, the ongoing story of their escape will begin a “chapter” then a story of some strange happening with the Barkings—caused by Dad’s newest invention or his enchanted garden—will take over. Even though we are told right up front these criminals have escaped, their actual dirty deed takes a very long time before it brings the Barking Family into their story. Until then, the author gives the reader odd-ball stories that seemingly have no connection and do not forward the story or the plot.

Now I have not finished the book. In the first story, the oddity was funny and kept me curious. After 175 pages, all strangely absurd and making no plot sense, it became annoying. I stopped reading. I did read the ending and the author finally brings the characters together, in an odd related way, but you need to make in through 412 pages of silliness first. The ending didn’t seem to have a satisfactory payoff for the investment one must make to get to that point.

These stories remind me of a sitcom. At the end of each, is one final joke that is supposed to wrap up the “half-hour comedy.” Then the next story follows the same formula, and then the next, and the next, and the next . . . with Dad and an invention that always flops taking center stage. Dad is also a stereotypical genius inventor with no common sense, and in Barking’s case, no common knowledge. Some kids love stupid, slapstick comedy—I did as a kid—and it must be difficult to get the correct timing, yet The Barking Family Christmas does get the comedic timing right more times than not.

Dad makes a “Device for Intelligence Modification Wireless Intelligence Transmition,” which daughter Josephine—the only one with any sense—realizes its acronym is “DIMWIT” an appropriate nickname for Dad Barking. This machine can determine an individual’s IQ, and then raise or lower it. In the first of many chase scenes throughout the book, a red squirrel gets a hold of DIMWIT and gives all his pals IQ’s of 300. Problem is, as their IQs slowly increases, so do the squirrels’ heads until they balloon too much and explode. Oh, yeah, the Barkings are saved by their pet rhino.

In other stories, dad duplicates himself and the machine makes too many of him. Dad is unhappy with son, Wellington and makes a mind-control hat to make the boy do his homework and clean his room. And the family Christmas tree, from the enchanted garden, pulls itself out of the pot it is replanted into and runs away with the family not far behind. A garden fairy—big, pot-bellied Jack—tries to magically transport the family and its tree back home, but sends them all to the underworld instead.

The escaped criminals will eventually steal a few inventions to help them ruin Christmas, but this is nearing page 200. Until then, each section is a mish-mash of a story that somehow mashes together at the end. To get there, one must get through all the absurd stories with rude kids, dumb parents, and simply unfunny events that often drag on taking twists and turns one cannot anticipate. Sometimes this works, often it does not.

Some kids will like all the silliness and preposterous situations that often make no sense at the destruction of the plot. The Barking Family Christmas could have been a 200-250 page book and made a bigger impact; had the author stuck to the plot. It’s a shame. The author can write and he knows how to tell a compelling story (when writing about the criminals and the plot they plan), but he tries too hard to be different and silly, instead of sticking to the plot.

The Barking Family Christmas is Edward Beedham middle grade debut.

THE BARKING FAMILY CHRISTMAS. Text copyright © 2015 by Edward Beedham. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Austin Macauley, Canada.

Purchase The Barking Family Christmas at AmazonBook DepositoryIndieBound BooksAustin Macauley.
Find The Barking Family Christmas on Goodreads HERE.

Meet the author, Edward Beedham, at his website:
Twitter          @edward_beedham
Find more books at the Austin Macauley website:  http://www.austinmacauley.com/
Twitter          @AustinMacauley
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: The Barking Family Christmas by Edward Beedham, and received from Austin Macauley, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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2 thoughts on “#786 – The Barking Family Christmas by Edward Beedham

  1. Mom is pretty sure I could be a member of the Barking family…for the obvious reason of my love of barking. But also for my random, unrelated acts of ridiculous silliness. I am pretty sure I’m afraid of rhinos, so I am not on board with this.

    Love and licks,


    • Cupcake, you might want to reconsider this. I did not mention the Barking family has a dog . . . a three-headed dog it acquired as a puppy from Hades in the underworld. Right now he is cute and cuddly, but if only one of those heads turn mean . . .


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