Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Christmas Adventure

The Lost Christmas Gift tells of an amazing adventure shared by a father and son in the wintery snow and cold of the Colorado mountains. Author Andrew Beckham tells us the story, combining imagination and truth-telling with maps, and skis, an old-fashioned sleigh, and beautiful trees. There is a mysterious man in the background, seen in antique photos and drawings on vellum. He leaves kindling wood and lumps of coal where they will find them. It is an intriguing mix of text and art that seems magical as one turns the pages. Who is this man and what is he doing here in the woods? It’s a bit scary as father and son finally realize they are lost in the dark, the cold, and the snowstorm.
 
It is a true story. The father and son were separated shortly after this adventure together, as the father, who was a mapmaker, had to go off to the war in Europe. The father wrote down their story in a handmade book that he made and sent back to his son from France, as a reminder of the fun time and the love they shared with one another. The book never came, or at least, not for 70 years. It was lost in the mail and when it finally came, it was old and worn. The boy was surprised to receive it and pleased that his father had sent him the story of their now long ago, overnight adventure in the snow. He wanted the story to be told to others so he sat down with his friend, Beckham, and showing him the special book, he told the story again.
 
Beckham, an artist and a skier himself, heard the story as an opportunity to tell it through the medium of unusual and different art works. He thought about how to present it in a book that both children and their parents would enjoy. And he wanted to include the mysterious man, who appears in the woods, who leaves skis, and firewood and lumps of coal, and who guides the father and son back to the path so they may find their way back home. Could he be St. Nicholas? Who knows?
 
Published by the Princeton Architectural Press (www.papress.com), this is what I call a "coffee table book," at 10 ½ by 12 ½". It’s a beautiful rendition of the story, sure to become a favorite.  

—Lois Sibley