Over two thousand years ago, three great kings journeyed across the desert, riding through the heat of day and dark of night. Each from a different region, each beckoned by the same gleaming star, each bearing treasures, each wishing to welcome a newborn asleep in a manger's hay -- a baby named Jesus, who would change the world. This beloved Christmas carol, written in 1857, celebrates the wise men's journey and the first Christmas night. Internationally renowned artist Gennady Spirin pays his own type of homage with paintings so exquisitely detailed and wrought that they, too, are a gift -- to that baby in the manger and to you.
Gennady Spirin (1948- ) is a Russian painter and children's book illustrator. A graduate of the Surikov School of Fine Art in Moscow and the Moscow Stroganov Institute of Art, he is noted for his unique style of watercolor illustration. He has illustrated works by classic authors such as William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy as well as children's books by contemporary celebrities. His oil paintings hang in public and private galleries throughout the world, and he has been profiled by The New York Times. His depiction of The Nutcracker was selected by Saks Fifth Avenue as the centerpiece of their famous Christmas display in 1997 and 1998. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, Spirin immigrated with his wife and sons to the United States, ultimately settling in Princeton, NJ, where he has lived and worked since.
I cannot deny that Spirin's art is gorgeous, rich and detailed. In "We Three Kings" there is a classical European style to the artwork while also having a distinctive Eastern flavor. However, I did not feel that the book presentation is particularly outstanding. The story merely reprints the lyrics for the song which, while creating a good foundation for some lovely artwork, is probably not all that appealing to children since it uses big words and is not always the cheerful or cozy Christmas type favored for family holiday storytime. Also, the artwork is repetitive--each time the "chorus" of the song is repeated the SAME artwork is shown. It's a stunning spread of angels but, alas, I was quite tired of it by the third viewing and wondered why we couldn't have had more variety--I also would have been rather annoyed if I had purchased the book and found so many repeats! I will certainly seek out more of Spirin's works and hope that they are put to better storytelling use and hold more variety.
This is an exquisite book. Anyone who appreciates art should obtain a copy. I spent over an hour looking at each detailed page. It is breathtaking!!!! There are no words to suffice. You need to see this to believe it.
The illustrations are fantastic, and the baby loved my singing especially the refrain. He was smiling. Others are commenting about the repetitiveness, but children really like that: if something is good they want to see it again, hear it again. Children like predictability. It's only adults that think it's weird, and want more variety.
Written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., an American Episcopal minster, in the nineteenth-century - the date given on the dust-jacket blurb here in 1857, although I understand that it was first published in 1863, in Hopkins' Carols, Hymns, and Songs - We Three Kings has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols, and I enjoyed reading it this morning on the train, while also listening to a recording of it by The Deller Consort. That said, although I love the carol, and appreciated the artwork, I wasn't as thrilled with this one as I expected to be. Spirin's paintings here are beautiful, but their details are rather blurred, and the repetition of the scene with the angels - the same exact painting is used, each time the refrain of the song appears - began to be rather tiring after a while, despite its loveliness.
Despite these issues, overall I enjoyed this picture-book, and I recommend it to fans of the carol (it's the only picture-book presentation of We Three Kings with which I am familiar) and to fans of Gennady Spirin.
This picture book is a quick read because it’s just the lyrics from the Christmas carol. The extremely elaborate illustrations are really what make this book. I read it to my son during our homeschool Christmas unit and it did lead to some good discussions about the 3 Wise Men and what they brought, as well as a good pictorial description of the heavenly host. If you’re looking for a book focusing on the true meaning of Christmas this is a nice one to pick up.
absolutely gorgeous illustrated version of the song. All the verses are illustrated, and the music is included in the back. By the time we got to the end of the book, I was totally done with the same illustrated chorus on every other two page spread. It would have been better if the illustrations were different each time.
The illustrator uses the song as the basis for this elaborate and highly detailed depiction of the story of the three kings and their journey to Bethlehem. While masterful, the same illustration is used multiple times for the chorus, and although lovely, I didn’t love this book as much as some others by Spirin.
The illustrations were fabulous and ornate, BUT the ones with the same repeated lines from the song (the story is just the song), it has the same picture over and over again. So annoying. But my kids did like it.
Genre: picture book- religious picture book Awards: none Audience: k-2nd grade A: I know that this book fits into the category because its talking about when the 3 kings went to give presents to baby Jesus, which is also a Christmas song. B: I really loved the texture in this book, I really felt like I could reach out and pet the horses and feel the grass on my finger. It made the book intriguing to read and exiting to find out what I could imagine touching. C: I would probably use this book if I was teaching about different cultures or religions and was on the topic of Christian holidays. D: What was the repeated line in the book? "O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light."
Beautifully illustrated, though I did think that it was a bit of a cheat using exactly the same picture for the chorus every time! I'm sure I'll get this out and enjoy it at Christmas for years to come.