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Joy to the World: A Family Christmas Treasury

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Biblical passages, carols, stories, plays, and more explain the traditions and symbols of the Advent holiday to readers of all ages, enhanced with rich illustrations throughout. 50,000 first printing.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2000

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About the author

Ann Keay Beneduce has been an editor of children's books since 1960, when she joined the J.B. Lippincott Co. She subsequently held top posts at World Publishing Company, T.Y. Crowell, and the American subsidiary of William Collins Publishers before founding her own imprint, Philomel Books, as a division of the Putnam Publishing Group devoted to quality trade books for young readers. Philomel has since moved to Penguin Books USA.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Beth.
807 reviews4 followers
January 4, 2010
This newest collection of Christmas favorites has a spiritual slant, encouraging present day celebrators to remember the reverence and origins of the season. The editor has divided the book into sections that focus on symbols and traditions of Christmas, headed Star, Manger, the Gift Givers, the Tree and Christmas Everywhere. Selections include biblical verses and hymns, as well as stories, plays, poems, carols, and essays. Famous pieces include Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus) by Francis Church, and Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas. Rich details include the history of Christmas pagents, the original St. Nicholas, and the scientific explanation for the bright star the Wise Men saw in the sky.
Unfortunately, the editor has chosen to offer abridgements of The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Littlest Fir Tree by Hans Christen Andersen, and several other pieces that certainly would have been appropriate and welcome in their entirety. An editor's note explains that though the pieces are abridged, all the words are the original authors, but the volume could easily have been extended to a still manageable 200 pages to include complete short stories and full-length chapters.
The collection has a multicultural slant, and not only in the Christmas Everywhere chapter, which explains traditions around the world. Within each chapter are stories and songs from England, Scotland and Germany, by Eskimos, African Americans, and Italians. More depth could have been achieved by including verses in other languages of songs such as O Christmas Tree and Silent Night.

The illustrations, gorgeous soft watercolors by Russian artist Spirin, are fascinating combinations of Italian Renaissance and old fashioned 1800's style. Subjects range from angels to Santas, children celebrating and shepards watching their flocks. Full page spreads are few and far between, but all pages are decorated with intricate borders and designs. The jacket highlights the themes of the book in a lavish Christmas wreath with a large bow. The artist chooses to work with dark green and olive, maroon and dull gold, soft pale blue and pink, and creamy off white rather than vibrant colors, giving the book a nostalgic and solemn feel, rather than joyful. This is fitting, considering the emphasis on the true meaning of Christmas.

Those interested solely in the secular tales of Christmas may find the spiritual side too heavy handed; pagans will be disappointed that barely a nod is given to the true roots of the Christian holiday, although the editor does mention that part of the importance of candles comes from the Hannukah legend.

Two indexes, one for authors, one for titles, sorted by genre, are appended, and a full page of credits doesn't include the sources for the facts presented in the introductions and preluding each piece.
Profile Image for Set.
1,560 reviews
March 1, 2018
I must say that from all the Christmas Treasuries that I have read, this is the first to give a clear and accurate full account of the origin of Santa Claus. I have always accounted the Christmas tree to be due to St. Boniface but this book gives credit to St. Martin Luther gaining popularity with Queen Elizabeth's German Husband Albert, the consort king.
I loved the Minstrel's Song by Ted Hugdes, The Ballad of Befana (there is also a Russian Version),
At Christmas Time, Christmas In the Woods by Beatrix Potter, Grandfather Frost, and The Tsar of Winter by Nikolai A. Nekrasov.
On the other hand, I did not like The Best Gift of All: A Play for Christmas. Biblical characters are represented as mean kids that poke fun at Martha...it is unnecessary. And I really didn't like the last story Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian-Carlo Menotti Frances Frost that is actually an excerpt from the book Amahl and the night visitors. According to this book, it is a beloved feature in every Christmas season in the United States. But according to whom and with what authority because I nor anyone I know have ever known has lead me to believe that they have seen this opera and I am a opera enthusiast. Once again it is a biblical fiction of the three magi and a thieving mother and violent son.
The medieval paintings illustrating this book are absolutely beautiful and a classical representation of the Christmas season time. There are many beautiful, yet simple piano scores in this book that I am grateful for, thank you.
Profile Image for Laura.
12 reviews1 follower
September 4, 2011
Reading with Gabriel and learning a lot about the circumstances of Christmas and the real lyrics to some of our traditional carols.
Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews

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