09 December 2009

An Advent of Christmas Books - The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and PJ Lynch

I have two copies of this beautiful Christmas story. The first, acquired from a sale of withdrawn library books, is a large landscape format hardback with illustrations that go right to the edge of the pages, with a panel around 2/3 the left hand page for the text, and an additional small illustration at the bottom. This format does show the illustrations at their best, the textures of wood and clothing, skin and hair beautifully detailed in each panel.
The new copy has come to me as part of the P.J. Lynch Classic Christmas Collection in a boxed set with A Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi (which I'll review at a later date). It's smaller and portrait format, the illustrations just over half the size of the earlier edition, and with a pale relief effect as a border for each page (see picture). The illustrations are still beautiful, but when you compare the two the larger format is so worthwhile for the extra detail you can see.
I also take issue with the covers - the earlier cover depicts Jonathan Twoomey teaching the boy how to carve. A warm, focused, intimate moment. The new cover shows the mother, son and Jonathan on the snow-strewn street holding hands. Surely this gives away the end of the story, the happily ever after shown on the front cover.
The story, briefly, is about Jonathon Twoomey, a wood-carver known as Mr Gloomy, for he's always grumpy and never smiles or laughs. None of them know about the loss which has made him so unhappy. A widow and her son move to the village and she asks JT if he will carve some figures for her from wood - a nativity scene that they loved but have lost. They later ask if Thomas can watch JT carve. As the days go by they come again and again and slowly the relationship warms, and of course if you've seen that second cover you know the result!
It is a beautiful and touching tale, with quite a long text, worth settling down for a long read to enjoy the story and examine the illustrations as they deserve.
Much as I love a beautiful box set of books, such a treasure, I think I'll keep going back to my battered ex-library copy for the full experience.


Annie said...

I have the small edition - and will see if I can find a withdrawn library copy...
For me to buy a book, it must be true love.

PS - Can I steal your idea? I want an advent calendar of books, too!

NZBookgirl said...

You sure can, the more the merrier! I had a couple of reasons for doing this - one being that I have a big stack of Christmas books that don't seem to be fully appreciated, except my me. The other reason was to give myself a month-long (well, 25 days) project to try and get myself into the habit of writing every day.