Another retelling of a Christian story by Elschner (The Nativity, 2015, etc.), illustrated with full-bleed reproductions from Renaissance paintings.
Although the paintings are exquisite, a child encountering this story might be forgiven for being confused. The text that accompanies each painting makes it clear that the story has a mythic dimension, as is clear from the highly varied depictions of the Magi by different painters. Questions asked on the first spread: “Did they wear conical hats or turbans? / Was the youngest white or black?” are belied by the illustration chosen for this spread, which shows three men, two wearing turbans and one of whom is black. Two page turns later, three nearly identical white men with auburn curls are shown, not one of them in a hat. Other illustrations show (mysteriously) two kings in a boat, hands holding gold vessels, the face of Mary. A final spread describes the shrine where the relics are preserved and the festival of Epiphany. There is no mention of Christianity, Christ, or Jesus, though both Herod and Christmas are referenced. Absent pre-existent understanding of the story, this will be a hard book for a child to appreciate independently or even for a teacher or parent to explain, given the lack of information provided. Many of the uncaptioned paintings themselves are cropped to focus on specific details, further de-contextualizing the images.
Tight cropping of unidentified old masters and a vague storyline do not add up to a child-friendly exposition of the Christian story. (Picture book/religion. 6-10)