This lyrically told story of an unknown Wise Man with a different sort of gift is based on Henry Van Dyke’s Victorian-era tale, “The Story of the Other Wise Man.”
The fourth Wise Man, Artaban, was a friend of the better-known trio who had plans to join them on their journey to honor the newborn Christ Child. He sells his house and buys three jewels to take as his gift, but he is prevented from meeting the other Wise Men when he stops to tend to a sick man. Artaban continues to search for the new King of Kings unsuccessfully for the rest of his life, using each jewel over the ensuing years to help someone else. The final jewel is employed at the time of Christ’s crucifixion to save a young woman from being sold as a slave. This intriguing story unfolds in flowing prose with the feeling of a folktale, conveying a subtle message in Artaban’s kindness toward the needy of any religion. Morris provides handsome watercolor illustrations in a smoky palette of earth tones, with a soft focus that complements the ancient setting.
The length of this story makes it most suitable for elementary-age children, but teens and adults will also appreciate this moving tale of a Wise Man with a special gift. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 6 & up)