Interestingly, I was introduced to this book at the Chinese Book Club at the Bukit Panjang Library as a translated work. We were all given copies of this translation, to be read as “homework”, but of course I had to borrow the original English version first. I was told the book is classified as Junior Fiction (for 10 – 12-year-olds), and cannot be found at the Adult Lending Section. This intrigued me further.
I’ve come to a simple conclusion as to why this book is placed in the Children’s Section although the language used is rather difficult and archaic at a few places (for example, imputation of parsimony, mendiciancy, appertaining thereunto):
- the content would not really appeal to adults;
- it is a classic-of-sorts (as I recall this very well-known story from my childhood), just like Gulliver’s Travels and Alice In Wonderland;
- the story is beautifully ilustrated (by Sonja Danowski) on every page!
I quote from the book: The magi, as you know, were wise-men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the priviledge of exchange in the case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish childeren in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.