Monday, December 31, 2018

Review - The Story of Christmas

The Story of Christmas
from the King James Bible
illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Date: 2011
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Pamela Dalton's exquisite, intricate scissor-cut illustrations wonderfully illuminate The Story of Christmas. Deeply reverent, richly detailed, and teeming with life, Dalton's images follow the story of the Nativity from the appearance of the Angel, to the shepherds who came from the fields, and to the three wise men who followed the star to pay respect for their new king. Working in a Pennsylvania-German folk-art tradition, rich with lovingly rendered animals and figures, Pamela Dalton has created a book that takes a deserved place among the finest celebrations of Christmas.

(see this book on Goodreads)

Since I've exhausted pretty much all the holiday e-picture books at my local library (with the exception of toy and TV tie-ins), I was left with little to review on New Year's Eve but this book that tells the story of Christmas from a very Biblical perspective.

I'm probably not the audience for a book like this, as I'm not a Christian. However, I can appreciate a well-done Nativity story; one of my favourite holiday reads this year was Mary Engelbreit's A Night of Great Joy. The Story of Christmas, however, left me cold... for a few reasons.

The artwork is somewhat impressive, although it isn't really something I, personally, like. I also don't like the stereotypical blond Jesus and the fact that Joseph looks old enough to be Mary's grandfather (he's mostly bald... and what little hair he does have on his head is white). The black backgrounds make the artwork striking, but I'm not sure if it will be something that will appeal to kids.

And that brings me to my main complaint with this book. It appears to be marketed as a children's book, but the old-fashioned language and mature subject matter (we're dealing with the version from the Gospel of Matthew here, so we've got a murderous king trying to kill a baby) don't seem appropriate for kids. (The nastier elements aren't really spelled out, which could lead to further confusion unless one is familiar with the story. Near the end of the book, we see Joseph taking his family into Egypt for their protection because Herod sought to "destroy" the child. So that's probably going to require some explanation, which will have to lead into a discussion about the Massacre of the Innocents.) This particular edition might make a lovely coffee table book for adults, but I would hesitate to give it to children.

This book didn't work for me, but I can see how it could have appeal for others, both for the illustrations and for the story.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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