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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Gift of the Magi

Do you all know P.J. Lynch? He's done illustrations for lots of children's books, such as The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and he's also apparently collaborated on a book of Irish myths and legends, something I could totally go for. I was doing some Christmas shopping at Barnes and Noble a few nights ago (shocker), and I came across O. Henry's story, The Gift of the Magi, done with P.J. Lynch's illustrations. If you're not sure what to get for that niece or nephew, or really anyone (I am a firm believer in giving kids' books to adults), do yourself and them a favor and go get this one. The combination of O. Henry's little side conversations he has with his readers, his excellent word choices and his fondness for his characters, coupled with the warm and gently beautiful illustrations, makes for a delightful read. Some of my favorite bits and pieces (the first one, admittedly, because it thematically ties in so nicely with my previous post):
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. (That's for you, Mary Powers.)
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had Kind Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.
She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends -- a mammoth task. 
"Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered, but nobody could ever count my love for you." Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction.

So, yes. Go buy the book. Or buy five copies of it. And get The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey while you're at it. Merry Christmas, friends!

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