Friday, December 24, 2021

Review - The Story of the Three Wise Kings

The Story of the Three Wise Kings

by Tomie dePaola
Date: 1983
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Tomie dePaola’s beloved 1983 classic returns to print just in time for the holiday season!

Three wise men of the East, having seen a new star symbolizing the birth of a great king, follow the star to Bethlehem where they present gifts to the newborn Jesus. This beautiful rendition of the well-known tale is sure to delight young readers.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This was just okay for me. While it's a little less disturbing than some of the other Nativity stories I've read, I still don't think that version from Matthew is really appropriate subject matter for a children's picture book.

That said, this is an interesting rendition of the story, told from the point of view of the kings. There are some unintentionally amusing images (such as when the kings all meet up and Balthazar's pointing at the star while breaking the fourth wall, or when newborn Jesus—with a full head of golden hair—is standing on his mother's knee to watch the kings depart). The ending is likewise so abrupt that it's almost funny.

The illustrations are colourful and pleasing to look at, and readers who really like the religious stories about Christmas will probably like the book. As a more secular reader, though, I didn't love it; I'm still uncomfortable with the way all these baby-killing themes are excused. If the book weren't about Christmas, would parents still think a story about a dude who wants to kill babies is appropriate for their toddlers?

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

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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