cover image Stephen's Feast

Stephen's Feast

Jean Richardson. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-316-74435-5

In this pleasing retelling of the Christmas carol about good King Wenceslas, lively storytelling combines with atmospheric artwork to adroitly evoke a sense of time and place. Stephen, the king's page, is summoned to identify a sad, lone figure in the town square. He recognizes the man to be a poor farmer who often comes into town ``looking for things . . . firewood . . . and scraps from the kitchen.'' For reasons Stephen cannot understand, King Wenceslas bids the boy load up on supplies, and they set off in a blinding snowstorm to deliver the food and wood to the man's family. When they arrive at the house, Stephen enjoys a warm--and warmhearted--feast. Richardson tells her story in a straightforward and ingratiating manner, wisely avoiding any exaggeration of the carol's events. Englander's rousing illustrations, full of rich hues of gold and red, perfectly capture the gusto of the holiday season. The carol appears in full on the attractive endpapers, inviting readers to delve into the pages within. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)