Simeon's Gift

by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrations by Gennady Spirin

HarperCollins, September, 2003.
Picture Book, 40 pages.
ISBN: 0060089148
Ages 9-12

Simeon's Gift by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton A long, long time ago, "when castles and monasteries dotted the land and knights wend forth to do brave deeds…. there lived a humble musician named Simeon." Simeon is penniless and uneducated, but he's kind and gentle. He falls in love with a noblewoman named Sorrel. But, not being the gigolo type, he is ashamed of his lowly status and of the fact that he cannot provide for Sorrel. So, with his trusty lute, he sets out to have adventures and make his fortune. Plagued with an amount of self-doubt that is somewhat unusual for the hero in a fairy tale, Simeon eventually overcomes his nervousness and meets a magical fish, a magical bird and a friendly faun. He also discovers his inner musical talent, which makes him able to earn a living to support his love, Sorrel.

Julie Andrews reads the story on the accompanying CD and her marvelous voice makes the most of this very modern story about finding oneself. Simeon is not the most compelling of heroes, and adult readers may wish that he would quit his internal musings and get on with things. It is the incredible artwork that makes Simeon's Gift a standout. Award-winning artist Gennady Spirin gives us stunning watercolors, done in the style of the Italian Renaissance. With rich, yet soft colors, his work is vibrant and alive. Angels, swans, bards, beautiful cities and majestic flora jump off the pages. Each page has a beautiful frame -- some round, some square. This is an exquisitely beautiful book, with an uplifting message that will play well with older children: "a true and brave heart can find a way, if it will only trust in all the wonders under God's canopy."

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This review was published in the January-February, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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