A canine Christmas adventure from children’s author Jill Sheeley
‘Fraser Rescues Christmas’ continues Aspen-set series
Four decades ago, Jill Sheeley published her first children’s book, “Christmas in Aspen,” chronicling the iconic scenes of the legendary ski town during its prime holiday time to shine.
Now, the veteran children’s author is returning to the holiday that started it all with “Fraser Rescues Christmas,” the latest in her locally set “Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog” series.
The idea came to her, Sheeley said, after reading a Fraser story to a group of children at the Hotel Jerome during Christmas week of 2019.
“I looked at all these cute little faces and I came home and I was like, ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be fun to do a Fraser Christmas book?'” she recalled.
A collaboration with illustrator Tanya Richards, the new book has Santa getting stuck in Aspen in a blizzard on Christmas Eve and Fraser digging him out. Previous entries in the series had seen Fraser carrying out rescues on Aspen Mountain, at the Maroon Bells and Star Mountain among other local landmarks and all featuring Courtney, a character inspired by Sheeley’s daughter.
The writer now has a 3-year-old grandson helping her to tell Fraser’s story.
“I started reading it to him when I was just in the preliminary stages, and he really liked it,” she said. “So he was my first test reader.”
Sheeley is launching the book with a series of local events with readings at the Hotel Jerome (Saturday, 10 a.m.), the Aspen Chapel (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.), Explore Booksellers (Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.) and the Ritz-Carlton at Aspen Highlands (Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m.).
The book returns Sheeley to children’s writing and to Fraser after many years’ break.
After the real-life Fraser died in 2008, Sheeley penned the young adult novel “The Blue Bottle” and “Adventures of Kip in Aspen and Snowmass,” which was inspired by her daughter’s Australian Shepherd. Two years ago, she published the adult memoir “Those Were the Days: Memories of a Hippie Chick,” recounting her early years in Aspen during the freewheeling 1970s.
As she imagined the new Christmas story, she knew Fraser — who is also the namesake of a long-running elementary school writing contest — would be its star.
“If anyone was going to rescue Christmas, it was going to be Fraser, right?” she said.
Roaring Fork Valley natives Emily Ridings and Nikki Ferry have come full circle when it comes to dance. Both studied dance with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) as kids, continued their training with other prominent schools, and now return this weekend, as ASFB presents “The Nutcracker” at Aspen District Theater.