Until I came across this book in Alton a few weeks ago, when I was book shopping with Francis, I don’t think I was aware of it. I knew of course that Blyton had some retellings of Bible stories under her name, but for some reason this singular story didn’t occur to me.
I brought it for the sole purpose of blogging about it today, reviewing the story and the pictures and admiring her retelling.
The story is a simple one, meant for children. As we know, Blyton taught in a Sunday school before she became a teacher and would often have to pass on these stories to the children, so you get the feeling that it is a story she knows well, and has tried to be as true to the Bible’s telling of it as possible.
At 64 pages it is a short book for an adult but maybe long for a child of the age, 3 to 7 perhaps, that it’s aimed at. However when you start reading the book, its clear that it is only this long because the words are big, which would obviously encourage children to read.
The retelling of the first Christmas is nothing new to me, and the story here is as I would imagine to find any other retelling. There are not too many of Blyton’s usual quirks in the script and it reads as a preacher would tell it to children. It would be hard for there to be any, as there is no doubt there could be little to add to such a story without taking away the simpleness and goodness, and joy of the new King, Jesus.
There are colour plates in this book, to help illustrate the story, by a chap called Paul Henning, who I’m not sure I’ve come across before. At first glance his pictures seem very artistic, simple lines and bold colours, but as I read on, I became more aware that the pictures seemed to be puppet characters, set up and moved around to make the scene up. This rather took some of the magic from it.
Anyway it is a nice little book, good for explaining where Christmas came from to a child, and helping them engage in the magic of the season. I do hope that I will get a chance someday to read it to someone and help them understand Christmas. Fiona, you have been warned!