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Good King Wenceslas Paperback – July 26, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this rhythmic Christmas ballad, a good king looks out of his castle and sees a poor man gathering fuel. "Yonder peasant, who is he?" he asks his page. The king makes his way through the snow, loaded with gifts, to share his wealth with the poor man. Henterly's majestic illustrations, in opulent colors, convey the difficulties of the peasant's search for fuel as well as the generous measures of the king. The carol's delicate text is left intact, and the melody appears on the end page; some readers may wish that further piano or guitar accompaniment also had been included. All ages.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 2. In the city of Prague, in the Czech Republic, there is a square, and in the square is a statue of the country's patron saint. So begins this winning tribute to the tenth-century Bohemian King Wenceslas and the popular Christmastime song bearing his name. Ladwig's oversize double-page spreads are engaging and expressive, illustrating and enlivening this slightly adapted story-song from the moment when the king and his page spot the poor man gathering wood in the cold to their dangerous, icy trek to his house through the snow. "Page and monarch forth they went, / forth they went together, / through the rude wind's wild lament / and the bitter weather." A historical note and the musical notation for the song (plus Neale's five original verses) are appended. A holiday treat. Karin Snelson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802852092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802852090
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.3 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Good King Wenceslas" Illustrated by Christopher Manson
North-South Books.
The Illustrator, Christopher Manson, has gone through a great deal of work to produce a beautiful book of art telling the story of "Good King Wenceslas", as well known by the carol of the same name, written by John Mason Neale in 1853.
The colorful illustrations match the Christmas season, with the front piece and the back piece both being intertwined holly. The book presents the entire carol. Each stanza of the carol faces an illustration portraying the action in the song: for example, at the beginning, the good King is actually looking out a window, with the wind obviously ruffling the pages of a book on a chair. King Wenceslas is presented as young man, with a concerned look on his face as he sees the tattered peasant "...gathering winter fuel." As the Page and the King carry food and pine logs to the peasant's dwelling, the winter cold grows harsher. The King tells the Page to walk in his foot steps, and the Page finds warmth in each foot print. I have always thought of this as an echo of Christ telling St. Peter to leave the boat and walk across the water to Him.
I look forward to my granddaughter, Katlain, using the music at the back of the book to play this carol at Christmas time, while my daughter, her aunt, supports her on the piano. Excellent book! That can become a family heirloom.
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An excellent children's book of one of the greatest carols ever. This carol above all proclaims the social justice of the Gospel; the need to share what we have with others, even in the face of our own adversity, and at the loss of our own pleasure. It's only the more wonderful in that it's based on the story of an actual king, Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic, who worked tirelessly for his five years in office to bring Christianity to his country of Bohemia. With very beautiful illustrations with a Gothic style of writing, the entire carol is included, a verse for each illustration, along with the notes at the end to sing along with. Children of about 30 should enjoy this work as well.
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This is my favorite in our large collection of short stories about saints. We see a human sacrifice his own comfort and risk his safety to care for the needs of a stranger. I like that he enters into the suffering of the poor, to some extent, in order to relieve the burden of the poor. I like that he responds to the need of a specific person (as opposed to addressing the larger social problem on a system level) because it is helpful in our discussions to develop empathy. I like that his page follows and learns the joy of giving by immersion- a nice picture of how we try to help our children learn the joy of sacrificial giving by having them follow in our footsteps as we give. There is a lot to meditate on for all of us in this old hymn brought to new life with gorgeous , moving, illustrations. I gave it to the kids on feast of saint Stephen and we enjoyed reading/singing through it every day until epiphany when I put it away. From time to time I hear them humming it and know they'll be excited to pull it out again next advent. I am!
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This book really gives meaning to the well known song. Whereas most children know this song, or at least recognize it, the words don't mean anything to them. This book brings the song alive. With a brief background and wonderful pictures (and the music and lyrics at the back), this was a perfect purchase - so glad I got it.
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The inside pictures are drawn by the same illustrator who drew the cover. King Wenceslas is drawn very kingly. Not a fluffy Disney Book. The song is printed with all four parts and cords in the back of the book. Well done.
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I bought this for my nephew as a early Christmas present. His is an interfaith family and this was the perfect story for them to share at Christmas as it focuses on caring for others and being kind during the holiday--rather than focusing on commercialism or theology that doesn't resonate with the entire family, but still has the spark of Magick we want to include in a child's Christmas, no matter their faith. He now sings the classic tune and turns the pages along with it.
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Format: Paperback
In 1853, an Angelican priest named John M. Neale wrote the lyrics to the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas," which tells the story of a real 10th century Christian Behmian king, well known for his generosity. In the book Good King Wenceslas, illustrator Tim Ladwig brings this carol to life, showing the king watching a poor man gathering sticks for his fire one bone-chilling, snowy evening. The king instructs his young page to gather food and wine for the man, then the two walk into the snowy night to deliver it. The page isn't sure he can make it through the deep drifts, so the king instructs him to walk behind him, in his footsteps. Finally, they deliver the food and drink to the poor man, and the carol reminds us:

"Therefore, Christians all, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor,
shall yourselves find blessing."

The book uses all the verses of the song; except for a short introduction (which explains who the king was), there is no additional text. The last page of the book features simple piano sheet music and all the lyrics to the carol.

What I Like: Tim Ladwig's illustrations are gorgeous, featuring the shadows and lights cast by candles and fireplaces, and the glow of the moon on snowy scenes. He does a superb job of bringing this traditional carol to life. The cover of the book does the inner illustrations no justice at all.

I also must admit I didn't know the carol before reading this book. No matter. I hopped onto YouTube to listen to it, and immediately enjoyed it. I also let my children listen to the carol before we read the book. (You could also look at the book while the carol is playing, but there are a number of pages in the book that are wordless.
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