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The Christmas Stories of George MacDonald. Elgin, Ill.: David C. Cook Publishing Company (Book Division, 850 N. Grove Avenue, 60120). 96 pp. $11.95.

George MacDonald lived in England in the 19th century, and his stories and poems collected here reflect the characteristics of the era - they are sentimental and often focus on a child's need for both physical comfort and family love.

Embellished by detailed illustrations, the tales are ideal for reading around a cozy fire. They are ''Christmas stories'' as most are set during the holiday season.

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''My Uncle Peter'' tells of a kindhearted, middle-aged bachelor who takes in a beggar child. The child's abduction back into the sordid world from which she came and her subsequent return to Uncle Peter make an engrossing story, which reaches its happy conclusion on Christmas Day.

Sentimental as the stories may be, they carry a message as timely today as when they were written.

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