BEFANA: A Christmas Story by Anne Rockwell

BEFANA: A Christmas Story

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In a somewhat sentimental reading of the Italian legend about their female version of Santa Claus, Befana is an old woman whose husband and baby are long dead, who has turned from human society but sings and tells stories every night to an old straw doll. One night she turns away three traveling kings who point to a star, chatter of Bethlehem and request a place to stay, but later she admits a shepherd with the same destination who invites her to go with him to honor the ""Baby King."" Because Befana, who fears the dark, doesn't decide to pack a basket of gifts and go along until after the shepherd has left, she must search forever, leaving a gift for each child she sees just in case that is the one she seeks. Rockwell's black and white line and wash pictures, bordered with red designs, are formal in arrangement but light in tone; the story, conventional in both sensibility and telling, will nevertheless help meet the seasonal demand for material on world Christmas customs --and, no doubt, the current one for female alternatives as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1974
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Atheneum