Book Review: Amahl and the Night Visitors

Rating: ★★★☆☆

This is a storybook version of the popular Christmas opera by the same author.  Amahl, a crippled shepherd boy, and his mother are visited by the three wise men on their way to visit the Christ child.  That night Amahl’s mother is caught trying to steal the gold intended for Christ.  The king forgives her, explaining that Christ has come to establish a kingdom “built on love alone.”  Amahl’s mother, ashamed, returns the gold and wishes that she could send a gift of her own, and Amahl offers his handmade crutch.  Immediately he is healed of his limp, and the Kings invite him to meet the child.  He bids his mother farewell and rides away with them.

The story touchingly evokes the longing endured by our world until the advent of Christ. The illustrations are very nice, but the writing reads more like a screenplay than a book.  Those who have enjoyed the opera will be able to relive it through the book, but the book alone may not bring the same pleasure.

In our family we prefer to keep our Christmas stories very close to the biblical account until children are able to distinguish between fact and fiction.  For parents who share this priority, it may be better to defer this story until children are old enough to appreciate the opera version, and use this book as a supplement.

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Publication Information: Menotti, Gian Carlo. Amahl and the Night Visitors. Lemieux, Michele (Illustrator). William Morrow. 1986. ISBN: 0688054269.
Categories: 3 Stars, Age 04-08, Book Tree, Books That Build Character
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Posted on August 14, 2009

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