Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Beautiful Book #50

Classic Christmas Collection. Illustrated by P. J. Lynch. Walker Books: 2009.
containing A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski.

Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch began making his mark early in his career. At 24, he illustrated Alan Garner's folklore collection, A Bag of Moonshine which won Britain's then-active Mother Goose Award, recognizing the talent of a newcomer to to the field of British illustration. He has since illustrated a number of tales and collections of folklore with specific emphasis on the Irish folk tradition. From the Rackham-esque black and white silhouettes that accompany Yeats' Fairy Tales of Ireland (1990) to the intricate, full-colour illustrations of tales such as 19th Century American, Frank R. Stockton's The Bee-man of Orn (2004), Lynch's work is always top-notch. I am particularly taken with his version of the Norwegian tale, East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon, so much so that I have included one illustration from it below. Lynch is a two-time winner of the Kate Greenaway medal for illustration, and he's only a smidge older than I am which I find simultaneously inspiring and humbling.

In 2009, Walker issued a gorgeous, slip-covered collection of Lynch's illustrated Christmas books: Dickens' A Christmas Carol, O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi, and Wojciechowski's contemporary and wildly popular, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. I've decided to choose this collection as book # 50 on my promised list because it lets me squeeze in three for the price of one. I'm not entirely happy with how The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey needed to be scaled down in size to fit the format of the collection, but, on the whole, this boxed set is such a great introduction to Lynch's work. The book design for the Dickens in particular is effective, with large type that makes it easy to read this holiday classic out loud--which, I might add, is no small feat given Dickens' predilection for periodic sentences and writerly flourishes and given my eyes' rapid decline with age. These three books are ones that any family who celebrates Christmas will return to time and again. If you can't get your hands on the collection, then seek out the books separately. Any public library worth its salts should have a copy of each of them.

If you want to know more about P. J. Lynch, his books, his posters and his other work, his website is here.

And with that, I have reached my promised 50 beautiful books by Christmas. Ta-da! I can now retire for the holidays. Come the new year, I will continue to chip away at all the titles that caused my list to spill over. I'll also assemble this list into some form of bibliography which will make it easier to go back to find posts on any given book, and which will also make it easier for you to look for them at libraries and new and used bookstores. Happy holidays!

 from A Christmas Carol

  from A Christmas Carol

from The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

 from East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon

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