Doubts about the historical existence of Christopher, long the patron saint of travelers, prompted the Catholic Church to remove his name from the calendar of saints in 1969; fortunately dePaola, as he states in an afterword, wanted Christopher's story ``to be available again to all children.'' This vigorous retelling is accompanied by some of the artist's most distinctive work to date. Reprobus, a giant, wants to serve the most powerful king in the world. His quest takes him first to court, then to the devil and, finally, in search of Christ. Following the advice of a hermit, Reprobus sets up camp by a river and ferries travelers to the other side. One stormy night a child asks to be carried across; as the giant complies, the child grows so heavy that Reprobus feels he is carrying ``the whole world on my shoulders.'' The child, of course, is Jesus, who gives him the new name of Christopher--Bearer-of-Christ. DePaola's prose is simple and eloquent, and his expressive folk art style, here rendered in the intense but muted shades of the desert, is perfectly attuned to the legend's reverent tone. The images here linger long after the book has been closed. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994 Release date: 03/01/1994 Genre: Children's
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