Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, December 18, 2011: The Juggler of Our Lady

Madame L is happy to have found a modern telling of a Christmas tale that doesn't clunk along through a bunch of formulaic plot points and stereotypical characters...and does fill the reader with the joy of Christmas.

This book is "The Juggler of Our Lady," by R.O. Blechman. Madame L found this gem in a bookstore's closing-out sale, but it's available at for prices ranging from $13.95 to $39.00. (You can also get from the last remaining 78 RPM vinyl recording of John Nesbitt telling this story; it's used, and it's only $9.00. Can you play 78 RPM vinyl records any more? Madame L cannot.)

This is apparently a medieval tale and there must be many versions of it available, besides those Madame L found at (though it's not available at

Imagine having only one skill, juggling; and living in a community of people who have many other skills to offer as their Christmas gifts to the Holy Mother of Christ.

Imagine being discouraged not only at the beautiful gifts the others give but also at the competitive nature of their gift-giving. 

Imagine giving your gift, the one you've spent your whole life learning and perfecting, worrying that it won't be good enough, and wearing yourself out by the time Christmas morning comes as you perform for the Holy Virgin. 

Imagine the others denigrating your gift and criticizing it as impious, sacrilegious, and so on. 

Finally, imagine the way the Virgin responds to this gift from the heart.

The version of the book Madame L has is illustrated by R.O. Blechman, and the preface is written by Maurice Sendak. It's beautiful. But don't worry if you can't buy it. 

Just imagine it, as the artist did, and then imagine what marvelous gift YOU can give to God this Christmas season.

Blessings to all,

Madame L


AskTheGeologist said...

Speaking of context, these book reviews, separated by just a day sometimes, are done in the middle of other writing and tasks and a complex lesson prep that Louise takes on all the time. This gives you a sense of how fast she reads. It's awe-inspiring to see her lying horizontal and flipping pages as fast as she does. She also watches TV horizontally. MY horizontal productivity can generally be counted in snores...

Ellen said...

Wow. Cool. I like how you encourage us to imagine it in our minds, and turn the focus onto what gift we can give God at this time of year.

Also, thanks for the comment, Jeff. It does help me get a sense of how fast she reads, and also some of the other amazing things she does!