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The Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto] Hardcover – September 30, 1990


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (September 30, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671686909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671686901
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 0.4 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Illustrated with frescoes by Giotto from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, this lavishly produced picture book about the life of Christ is an interesting combination of coffee-table art book and genial sermon. Expanding upon religious views introduced in earlier books by L'Engle, her impassioned narrative is followed by A. Richard Turner's elegant afterword explaining the historical significance of the paintings. Infrequently acknowledging controversy, L'Engle authoritatively decides thorny theological issues: "Even for Jesus, the human being, his understanding of his Godness did not come all at once," she says, but "there was a glimmer when he was a boy of twelve and talked with the elders in the Temple." L'Engle's tale is frequently layered with advice to the young: "Sometimes it is very important to have an older friend who is not a parent," she says of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Like a parson interpreting Christ's story to her young flock, L'Engle focuses on those aspects of her faith that require belief in the "Glorious Impossibles that . . . bring joy to our hearts, hope to our lives, songs to our lips." Ages 8-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5 Up-- Inspired Christian belief and high Christian art resonate in this beautiful volume as L'Engle retells 25 of the events of Jesus' life and ministry. Each of the Bible stories is accompanied by a full-page, full-color reproduction of one of Giotto's famed frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel or, as it is often called, the "Arena Chapel" in Padua. Despite the tragic depiction of the massacre of the innocents, the dark drama of the betrayal and crucifixion, and the solemnity of Giotto's famous lamentation scene, the tone of the retelling is full of joy, the drama explained as the will of Heaven, the death of Jesus as the victory of love, and the miraculous events as the "Glorious Impossible" that faith accepts and knows as truth. The stories are narrated in a poetic, informal style that incorporates familiar Biblical phrasing with modern, conversational comments and explanations. The text flows, and can be read aloud without showing the illustrations. At the same time, Giotto's frescoes are reproduced with such clarity and richness of color that they can be valued as quality reproductions of Renaissance art. The frontispiece photograph of the Scrovegni Chapel (although reversed) and an afterword about Giotto's place in art history add to the potential use of the book for art history. The text and the pictures fit so well together that L'Engle's words enhance the appreciation of Giotto's art, and the magnificence of the frescoes illuminates the Christian story. The result is a beautiful devotional book that will be a valued addition to the religious shelves of a library or an art-book collection. --Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
Excellent for our homeschool!
happyhomeschooler
I read one "Glorious Impossible" each day during Advent.
layla
The art plates of the frescoes are beautifully done.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As an artist with an Master's degree in painting, I was amazed by the stunning reproductions in this "children's" book, and kept looking at it, and looking at it. The reproductions are so vivid, the text so appropriate, and the book so well designed that I could almost imagine I was walking through the chapel myself. It was the first time I'd seen the frescos in an order the artist intended, which made them even more powerful. Eventually the book went to a friend who admires frescos, but there was such a sense of intimacy in it that I've been searching for another copy for well over a year. The text and the images meld beautifully, and I can honestly say it's the first story of Christ's life I've seen where I felt the illustrations or text didn't "get in the way". Even if you're a fesco fan who's more interested in Giotto than in the story, tear up your check for that expensive art book and buy this first.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Are you looking for a book to read to your children to share your faith, tell the story of Christ, and inspire your child and yourself to feel the joys of giving, forgiveness, commitment, and love? This is THE book for you. L'Engle's extraodinary and inspiring writing style was never so beautiful as in this faithful retelling of the Gospels. It uses both simple, everyday language and the more complex quotes of the Bible to render a tale that is both easy to read and mystical- a hard task in Children's Bible literature. Her comments on the feelings and activities of both Jesus and others are so spiritually aware that adults will end up thinking about it long after the book is finished. In particular, her thoughts on Judas and his motivation were thoughtful, compassionate, and shed the first positive light I have ever seen given to this character. She brings up points I had never considered--- After Jesus rose He said "Peace be with you" not "Where were you when I needed you" - with such simplicity that one can't help wonder why they didn't consider it before. Along side L'Engle's rich prose is artwork beautiful enough to be awed over by adults, but detailed enough you'll laugh as children comment, "Hey, Lazarus really looks dead!" "The Glorious Impossible" is beautiful, gentle, rich, and assuring- a perfect book to introduce not only Christ but what he taught as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As an art educator, church librarian, and special lecture person who links art with religion at my church, I can highly recommend this gorgeous book to you. Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite writers and she presents the life of Christ in flowing prose. I even picked up a few facts I did not know. The book is illustrated using various panels from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy which adds sumptuousness to its narrative. As a child I was drawn to picture books like this because of their medieval, almost Oriental appearance, so if you wish to influence your children to appreciate a good story well told and illustrated, select this book. The text is on an 9-13 year old level. The "glorious impossible" is something that cannot be explained but only rejoiced in, and I think that sums up God's gift of Jesus to us in a very satisfying way. Enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I remember reading this book in the store when it first came out, and it has stuck with me since. Madeline L' Engle gives a thoughtful, sensitive twist on a timeless story, and writes iin such a prose that you could easily imagine reading aloud to young children. I have searched for it for years, and am pleased to discover it in print again.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I bought this as a gift for my niece/goddaughter about 11 years ago and have wished I'd got one for myself ever since. It is simply gorgeous with a very moving text. You don't have to be a committed believer to enjoy this lovely book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book - the combination of Giotto's frescoes of the life of Christ in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, and short narrative summaries of the accompanying stories from the Gospels by Madeleine L'Engle. I used to buy it for a new baby or a baptism book whenever there was an occasion and when the parents would appreciate a book of Bible stories accompanied by really good art instead of mediocre illustrations. The book went out of print some years ago, but was still available easily as a used purchase. Then when Madeleine L'Engle died, the used copies became prohibitively expensive. Happily now the used copies are more affordable. The art plates of the frescoes are beautifully done. I have been to the Scrovegni Chapel to see the restored originals, and find this book very valuable. This is a wonderful gift book. It's unfortunate that it isn't being reprinted, but a good used copy is a gem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on January 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
At first it might be easy to dismiss "The Glorious Impossible" as a young adult version of certain stories about Jesus. While it was written with a younger audience in mind, L'Engle doesn't shy away from sensitive issues or thought-provoking questions. The author examines 25 "glorious impossibles" from the angel's announcement to Mary to Jesus' birth, his ministry, death and resurrection. Each retelling is paired with an art plate of Giotto's frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. These illustrations are gorgeous and the perfect accompaniment to L'Engle's beautifully deep and sensitive examination of faith and all the impossibles we are to believe. This is a truly beautiful book that I will read again and again.
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More About the Author

Madeleine L'Engle, the popular author of many books for children and adults, has interspersed her writing and teaching career with raising three children, maintaining an apartment in New York and a farmhouse of charming confusion which is called "Crosswicks."