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THE LIGHT OF CHRISTMAS by Richard Paul Evans


by Richard Paul Evans & illustrated by Daniel Craig

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83468-3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Evans (The Tower, not reviewed, etc.) adds to his successful string of sentimental Christmas stories with this longer one of a young boy named Alexander whose kindness to a stranger results in a special honor. The setting is the mythical walled village of Noel, which has a tradition of a huge brass torch that burns each Christmas next to the decorated town tree. This year an additional holiday feature has been announced, with a contest of Christmas gift offerings to determine who will light the flame. On his way to the holiday celebration, Alexander helps an elderly man who has collapsed in the snow outside the city. This man turns out to be the Keeper of the Flame, who declares Alexander’s gift (the offering of kind aid to a stranger) the winner of the contest. The clearly stated lesson is that kind actions toward others supercede the importance of material gifts; other interpretations include Christian symbolism and the parable of the Good Samaritan. In his first work for children, Craig offers realistic, digitally produced illustrations of the snowy village and its inhabitants dressed in old-fashioned garb, all glowing with candlelight, starlight, and the torch’s flame. His illustrations show the Keeper of the Flame as a striking fellow with a huge white beard and flowing robes: part Moses, part God, part saint, part Santa. Some will find this a saccharine story; his audience will see a parable of faith, hope, and charity. Predictable Evans with predictable results. (Picture book. 6-9)