Book Bits ; This Week: A Christmas Story for Young Adults about the Three Kings, Three Historical Books about Cities, and Some Selections from Readers

The Christian Science Monitor, December 12, 2006 | Go to article overview

Book Bits ; This Week: A Christmas Story for Young Adults about the Three Kings, Three Historical Books about Cities, and Some Selections from Readers


Alphabet of Dreams, by Susan Fletcher

I blame my grandmother. The year we spent Christmas at her house, she read me Henry Van Dyke's "The Story of the Other Wise Man" and got me permanently hooked on the Magi. Since then, not only has Van Dyke's story become a classic (warning: if you come over at Christmas I will foist it upon you) but I've also actively sought out other stories of these three kings.

Perhaps it's the message of seeking and finding. Or maybe it's the way one baby in a manger can redefine majesty in an instant. Whatever the reason, any thoughtful book on the subject is almost sure to win me over. And Susan Fletcher's new novel for young adults, Alphabet of Dreams, is certainly no exception.

Like the story of the fourth Wise Man, "Alphabet of Dreams" is less about that celebrated birth and more about one individual's journey - not just to Bethlehem, but metaphorically, to self- knowledge and transformation. And while the kings do end up playing a central role, Fletcher prevents their story from overwhelming the narrative of the teenage protagonist.

When we first meet her, 14-year-old Mitra is anything but preoccupied with biblical prophecies. Her concerns are for food, shelter, and safety - for herself and for her little brother, Babak. Something has happened to Mitra's family - although that's a mystery that remains unsolved for most of the novel. Whatever it is, it's prompted Mitra and Babak to go into hiding. They don't even look at the stars to wish - although dream they both do.

Ultimately, it's Babak's prophetic dreams that catapult them into the world of the Magi when Babak becomes a seer for the kings' trek. And although Mitra must give up her own plans to accompany him, her sacrifice is not in vain. For the first time, she finds herself looking up to the stars that lead the Magi to their destination and Mitra and Babak toward the family they had feared lost.

One of the chief delights of this book is Fletcher's rendering of place and time. The Middle East of biblical renown comes alive with blinding sandstorms and temperamental camels, with kings draped in Oriental finery, and a surprisingly ordinary stable.

In keeping with the humility of the nativity, Fletcher doesn't dwell on the events in the manger. Nor does she overstate the themes of transformation and redemption at the heart of this novel. Nevertheless, the warmth and wonder of the Bethlehem encounter pervade its final chapters, as does this new message from the Magi, just in time for Christmas: The beauty of a quest of the heart is that it's often fulfilled in ways we least expect. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Book Bits ; This Week: A Christmas Story for Young Adults about the Three Kings, Three Historical Books about Cities, and Some Selections from Readers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.