Author pens an ode to Christmas for children

PARKERSBURG — Walter Pavlo had a seat and began to talk about his new children’s Christmas book, “A Christmas Eve Bedtime Story.” It’s the story of a how a shy moose, who wants to be one of Santa’s reindeer, helps rescue Santa’s sleigh with his brain more than his brawn.

The main character, the shy moose and known simply as “Mr. Moose,” is not a made-up character from Pavlo. No, try a first grade friend, Charles Wills, known “more for his kindness and intelligence rather than the fact he was a head taller than anyone in first grade.”

Pavlo said he began first grade in 1947 at Sacred Heart Grade School in Savannah, Ga. There he met Wills, “who helped me walk into the classroom the first day of school,” he said.

“I had these big braces up to my knees because doctors were trying to turn my feet to the normal position. They were positioned like this,” he said and turned his feet outwards, almost in the position of how penguins walk. “I walked with a clumsy gait, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He just saw I needed some help and he helped.”

The braces came off in time for the second grade but he said Charles was always going to be Charles. Pavlo said the moose “somewhat represents Charles. I don’t know if he would necessarily like being compared to the moose. Charles was more an intellect than anything else. He was just larger and smarter than all of us.”

The story is “about a moose who wants to be one of Santa’s reindeer,” he said, “but for obvious reasons, he can’t be. And every day that he goes to the pond he is reminded of this. The animals of Fire Top Mountain pick on him constantly because all he wants to do is be a reindeer.”

It continues as the animals of the mountain annually gather atop the mountain to wave to Santa as he and the reindeer fly past. Then Santa and crew have a windy Christmas Eve and the storm causes presents to be scattered about atop the mountain, which turns Fire Top Mountain into Spilled Presents Mountain.

As the presents are collected and put into the sleigh, other problems become evident; the sleigh is frozen to the ground and the reindeer can’t move it.

The moose, hiding nearby because of the verbal bullying previously by the animals for wanting to be a reindeer, is now sought by the animals as he is the biggest and strongest of any animal on the mountain.

“The moose was hiding because he’s shy,” said Pavlo, “but he was shy because of the taunting of the animals. The moose thought he was inferior.

“The moose forgot his shyness when he saw his hero, Santa, needed his help,” said Pavlo, “but his idea to help was not one of brawn, but of intellect.”

The idea to free the sleigh involving all the animals in a most unusual way according to Pavlo.

“They all gathered around the sleigh and started to sing,” he said. “Muscles did not loosen the sleigh but the ice was loosened by their combined body heat. The moose thought of a way to make everyone involved. No one was left out of freeing Santa’s sleigh. They all had a part in it. For that act and idea, Santa made the moose the ‘King of Fire Top Mountain.'”

There was another source of inspiration behind the book Pavlo said and that was his grandmother.

“My grandma, Ellie Branon, carried her Bible everywhere she went,” he said. “She taught me ‘the strongest among you should the servant of all.’

“I hope the parents who read this to their children understand the philosophy behind it,” he said. “Online bullying is prevalent, I hope they pick up on the message of bullying is not acceptable.”