Don’t look now, but Christmas books are out

October 12, 2010

Bobz Book Reviews

So you have plenty of time to buy them as gifts, publishers are circulating Christmas titles, and you may find some of these under-the-tree worthy.

“Who’s Hiding?” – for young children

This colorful little book re-tells the Christmas story in words and pictures that  would be enough to keep children and grandchildren on your lap to the end, but the creativity doesn’t stop there.

The little Liguori Publications book features flaps for youngsters to lift open on every two-page spread to find the answer to a who’s hiding question from the text. The thick pages are perfect for tiny hands to turn. What a nice idea by author Vicki Howie and artist Krisztina Kallai Nagy, and just $10.99.

“The Nativity: From the Gospels of Matthew and Luke” – for young readers

Ruth Sanderson depicts the Christmas narrative in classic, traditional illustrations that appear to come from an artist of the Renaissance era rather than the 21st century. Each is Christmas-card beautiful, and framed in the traditional illuminated manuscript style.

The text, however, seems both stilted and unfamiliar to Catholic ears, and appears to be culled from the King James version of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. For example, Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem because of “a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.”

Taxed? That may have been the follow-up reason, but my Catholic version of the New American Bible says the whole world would be “enrolled” — and the footnotes call it a census.

There are other examples as well, and knowing the storyline readers may find they’re just skipping the copy altogether and taking in the beauty of the illustrations. “The Nativity” is an Eerdmans Books for Young Readers hardcover.

“A Christmas Carol” – all ages

It’s not what you think. But then again,it is.

Acta Publications has reprinted the Charles Dickens classic in a pretty, easy-to-handle little paperback that’s just 160 pages ($14.95).

As worthwhile reading — and re-reading — as Dickens is, just as valuable is a nine-page introduction by Father John Shea that urges us to rediscover this Christmas-time conversion story.

Father Shea is an accomplished writer and author himself, and he reminds us why “A Christmas Carol” is a classic and why we need to re-read it even though we all know the story of Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

While looking through a window at Scrooge and his life story, the glass can serve as a mirror, too, reflecting back our own image and pulling us into evaluating our own lives. Dickens would approve. — bz

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 40-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

View all posts by Bob Zyskowski
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