on 11 December 2007
Essentially this is a re-telling of the story of King Wenceslas and his page setting out on a bitter winter's day to deliver the spirit of Christmas. I was drawn to this book as I thought the combination of Geraldine McCaughrean and Christian Birmingham would be a winner. I was right. The artwork is a delicious combination of blues, whites and greys for the scenes set outside with an impressionist feel contrasting with the golds, reds and oranges depicting the warmth of the palace and later he woodcutter's house. The story is told from the page's point of view and as usual with Gerladine McCaughrean there is a cracking use of language "Snow laid seige to the city. Winter, grim and grey, held the whole world in it's claw" Although this is a picture boook there is enough in the writing and illustrations to hold the attention of a child who has moved on to chapter books. It makes an unusual addition to a Christmas bookshelf and is a lovely parable of kindness, bravery and charity. The book also contains the words to the carol, incidentally one that you don't seem to hear much anymore, as well as a very brief introduction to how the story of Wenceslas evolved. A great buy and a new classic.
on 13 January 2010
Imagining the stories behind well-known carols is an exercise which doesn't often get into print, but the clear language and a wonderful reconstruction give this book an enchanting attraction. It is a sheer delight which owes much of its appeal to the excellent illustrations by Christian Birmingham, who must now rate as one of the leading childrens' illustrators. The book is a simple story which would be suitable for younger children and would enable them to understand the generous sentiments of Wenceslas, and also to connect to the carol whenever they hear it.