It hasn’t got the enduring reputation of such stalwarts as “A Christmas Carol” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but this 1989 family drama about a 9-year-old girl (Rebecca Harrell) who discovers a reindeer that she believes may belong to Santa Claus deserves a place on your holiday-viewing schedule. There’s a great supporting cast (Abe Vigoda, Cloris Leachman and Sam Elliott), and yes, it borders on the overly sentimental, but if you’re prone to tears (who, me?) you might want to have some tissues ready for the closing minutes. 5:30 p.m. today (with repeats through December) on AMC.
Doug Knoop, Seattle Times staff
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Just read (or, rather, devoured) Annalena McAfee’s delicious first novel, set in late-’90s London and featuring a faceoff between two very different writers: Honor Tait, an elderly and revered former war reporter, and Tamara Sim, a young lightweight who specializes in Top Ten List journalism. Tamara’s assigned to write a profile about Honor (but can’t be bothered to read any of her work), and the novel unfolds as a series of exquisitely uncomfortable two-person scenes. Very funny portrait of a fascinating moment in time, when news was just beginning to be available online and not everyone thought the “World Wide Web” would catch on. (Hardcover, Alfred A. Knopf)
Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic
The irreplaceable artist and storybook author Maurice Sendak passed away last May at 83. But you can pay your respects by paying notice to the splendid sets and costumes he created for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s now-playing production of “The Nutcracker.” Sendak was the perfect choice to design the colorful tale of toys come to life, and his work (for PNB’s 1983 premiere of the piece) is as fresh and charming as ever. You could buy Sendak’s marvelous “Nutcracker” picture book, but there’s nothing like watching the dancers and hearing the music within the mini-universe he created. Through Dec. 29, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center (206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org).
Misha Berson, Seattle Times arts critic