Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Snow Queen

Hot off the presses in October is a reprint of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, illustrated by a very fascinating artist, Sanna Annukka.  Drawing on her Scandinavian background, Annukka brings a wholly unique and visually stunning take on a classic tale.

I have enjoyed reading fairy tales as a child and have read a fair number of them to my six children. I had not, however, read "The Snow Queen" in it's entirety before reading this volume.  I have to admit that while reading this to my 9 year old, we were both a little confused. It's a tale made up of seven parts that frankly were a little hard to follow (but stick with it and in the end, most of it will make sense--sort of like life!). One thing that pleasantly surprised me were comments about God and heaven and references to singing about the Christ Child.

I am a firm believer in the power of story and particularly fairy tales to help impart wisdom and give the readers an opportunity to look at truths from a distance. I think it's often easier to swallow a difficult lesson when you see someone else experiencing it.

This is not a book I would just hand a child. Parents may want to read the book first and research a bit of background on the tale.  It would make an excellent read aloud category so that adult and child can talk about what they think the story means. There really are some lovely conclusions one can draw from Andersen's tale.

I found the artwork particularly fascinating (the cover art is a good representation of the interior art). It's a great way to introduce children to one form of Scandinavian art. Every illustration has numerous geometrically patterned designs. I think the book would make an excellent springboard for some artistic exploration by both children and adults alike.

Visit Annukka's website to find out more about her interests and other projects.  Or follow her on Instagram to keep up with her creative developments.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Snow Queen from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Day and a Life by Penelope Wilcock

A Day and a Life is yet another thought-provoking glimpse at the sanctifying process of being a monk. Central to the story are two young brothers at St. Alcuin's monastery. Brother Cedd and Brother Colin are plagued with feelings of self doubt wondering if they will ever find the place that God has for them in the community.

Wilcock is a master storyteller, creating the most vivid and poignant images of daily monastic life. We often think of the cross we bear to be something huge like grappling with an illness, mourning the loss of a loved one, or facing persecution.  But in A Day and a Life, the brothers learn instead that a cross may merely be learning how to tolerate and patiently withstand the quirky, petty differences among them that can wear on a man's nerves and drive him to distraction.

Only in learning to love and accept the unique weaknesses and frailties of others, can a man truly live in peace with Christ. Learning deep lessons alongside Wilcock's characters, the reader will be forced to examine their own life and appreciate the forbearance others show toward our own annoyances.

When you really think about it, how does God even tolerate us?  Such a fickle, shallow, slow to learn people? I love the picture of Abbot John who has learned to love and encourage his novices as a result of the suffering he has experienced himself.

Escape to the medieval world of St. Alcuin's.  How much our world could learn from the beautiful example of the Brothers in A Day and a Life.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of A Day and a Life from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.