‘The Wise Men Who Found Christmas’: Raymond Arroyo’s New Children’s Book
Inspiring tale chronicles ‘the light that led them to the truth they sought: the Christ Child.’
The Wise Men Who Found Christmas
Written by Raymond Arroyo
Illustrated by Diane LeFeyer
Sophia Institute Press, 2022
40 pages, $17.95
To order: ewtnrc.com
It’s beginning to “read” a lot like Christmas! Books are everywhere, and shining among them is The Wise Men Who Found Christmas, the story of the inspired search for the newborn King.
Released Oct. 11, it is the third in a series of faith-filled legends that Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN’s The World Over, has penned. The Spider Who Saved Christmas and The Thief Who Stole Heaven, both best-sellers, preceded it.
While many books have been written about the Epiphany, they may have missed their mark about the Wise Men.
“The Magi are the major figures of Christmas after the Holy Family, all over the world,” Arroyo told the Register. “Most of what we have been led to believe about them is wrong. They were not kings, nor from the Far East — and there may have been more than three of them.”
St. Matthew’s placement of these seekers in the opening of his Gospel, Arroyo said, suggests “there must be something in their reality that we need to understand.”
Understanding, for the author, began with his search for and discovery of the historic Wise Men. “I situated their story in the context of a wonderous, high-stakes adventure. It actually made the Light they sought more real, more present for me, at Christmas. I want to extend that experience for my readers — so it’s not only the Wise Men who found Christmas, but all of us who re-find it,” he said.
Readers of the picture book, Arroyo said, are not limited to children.
“I consider The Wise Men Who Found Christmas and all my picture books essentially ‘family reads.’ I put them in the context of a picture book so that families can go on these adventures together.”
Such adventures, Arroyo said, cannot be the stuff of dry research or rehashing of worn tales, but must engage both the young and the old alike and, most importantly, ring true. “Children are extremely perceptive and don’t tolerate deceptions,” he explained. “You have to be very truthful when writing for the young or the young at heart. I’m always writing simultaneously on two levels, one that younger audiences will enjoy and another level that only those who have lived a bit will perceive.”
Writing for any age is hard work, he acknowledged. “Every story has its own challenges, and finding the best way to tell it — finding the best way in — is always hard,” according to the author. “Arresting the audience’s attention early on is important, no matter what their age.”
Arroyo succeeds in doing just that. The Wise Men Who Found Christmas opens with a tease. “There are many tales of the Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem,” the unidentified narrator says. “But most are untrue.”
As The Wise Men Who Found Christmas unfolds, readers meet up with Melchior, Balthasar and Caspar from the Arabian kingdom of Nabatea. The Magi have seen a star blazing in the sky and recall the ancient prophecies. “The stars do not lie,” the aging Melchior says. “He is coming.”
The adventure begins: It is an adventure that will test both body and soul as the Wise Men follow the star into the unknown.
On the way, darkness envelops the three seekers as the star sometimes vanishes from view. This darkness is no match, however, for the brooding, dark intentions of King Herod, whom they meet. Gathering their courage, the trio presses on.
Diane LeFeyer’s stunning full-page illustrations connect readers to the fast-paced quest of the Wise Men set against a changing night sky. With the camel caravan slowly making its way in the rear, the Wise Men proceed astride galloping horses, leaving dirt and stones flying in their wake. The horses are depicted apace, almost flying — with reins and tassels in motion as the Wise Men charge ahead.
The urgency cannot be minimized. At last, within sight of their goal, the Wise Men dismount and race toward the light in the little town of Bethlehem.
The brilliant light draws the Wise Men to a humble home, where Mary, the Child’s mother, assures them that he has been awaiting their arrival. Fears, pains and uncertainties fall away as the Wise Men bow before Baby Jesus and present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Throughout the arduous journey, each Wise Man struggles to overcome adversity inspired by the deep desire to follow the light (Melchior), go to the King (Balthasar), and make haste to discover the truth (Caspar). Words of wisdom for readers of all ages, indeed.
As in Arroyo’s previous books, and even more so here, light and dark — in word and image — move the story forward.
“The interplay between darkness and light is an important one, not only artistically, but in the context of our lives,” Arroyo explained. “Sometimes it is in the deepest darkness when we’re most sensitive to light and where we can receive it most readily.”
The Magi were ever so ready to receive it. “These Wise Men were searching, yearning to find the truth. What they understood was the stars and the prophesies,” explained Arroyo, “and that became the light that led them to the truth they sought: the Christ Child.”
Arroyo credits LeFeyer’s illustrations as elevating the story in a way he could not have imagined, including the scene where Melchior, Balthasar and Caspar arrive at their destination and discover starlight is no longer shining down on the Holy Family, but brilliant light is shooting to the heavens from within. And when the Wise Men enter, they are also bathed in the light of the Christ Child.
“She captured so much of the historic detail that I wanted on the page but also the otherworldly realities that can only be suggested to art,” Arroyo said. “What is that great Goethe line? ‘There is strong shadow where there is much light.’ That applies to stories, as well.”
Follow the light. Go to the King. Make haste to discover the truth.
The Crawford sisters write from Pittsburgh.