Christopher: The Holy Giant

Overview

The story of St. Christopher is the tale of a giant named Reprobus who wishes to serve the greatest and most powerful king in the world. He sets off on a journey and after doing service for a king, the devil, and a holy man he discovers that it is Christ he needs to seek - but he must be patient, and must serve others first. Then one stormy night Reprobus carries a child across a stormy river. When he reaches the other side, the child tells him, "I am Jesus Christ... From now on you shall be known as Christopher ...

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Overview

The story of St. Christopher is the tale of a giant named Reprobus who wishes to serve the greatest and most powerful king in the world. He sets off on a journey and after doing service for a king, the devil, and a holy man he discovers that it is Christ he needs to seek - but he must be patient, and must serve others first. Then one stormy night Reprobus carries a child across a stormy river. When he reaches the other side, the child tells him, "I am Jesus Christ... From now on you shall be known as Christopher - the Bearer of Christ." With its colourful and decorative illustrations in the inimitable style of the artist, this picture book brings to vivid life the legend of St. Christopher.

As Reprobus carries a child across a river one stormy night, the boy gets heavier and heavier until Reprobus feels he is carrying the world on his shoulders--thus goes the legend of the name Christ-bearer, or Christopher.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Doubts about the historical existence of Christopher, long the patron saint of travelers, prompted the Catholic Church to remove his name from the calendar of saints in 1969; fortunately dePaola, as he states in an afterword, wanted Christopher's story ``to be available again to all children.'' This vigorous retelling is accompanied by some of the artist's most distinctive work to date. Reprobus, a giant, wants to serve the most powerful king in the world. His quest takes him first to court, then to the devil and, finally, in search of Christ. Following the advice of a hermit, Reprobus sets up camp by a river and ferries travelers to the other side. One stormy night a child asks to be carried across; as the giant complies, the child grows so heavy that Reprobus feels he is carrying ``the whole world on my shoulders.'' The child, of course, is Jesus, who gives him the new name of Christopher--Bearer-of-Christ. DePaola's prose is simple and eloquent, and his expressive folk art style, here rendered in the intense but muted shades of the desert, is perfectly attuned to the legend's reverent tone. The images here linger long after the book has been closed. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-A retelling of the legend of St. Christopher. Because of his stature, Reprobus the giant wishes to serve the most powerful ruler in the world. During his travels, he meets a mighty king, the devil, and a hermit before understanding that it is Christ he must serve. To do so, the giant uses his impressive strength to carry travelers across a fast-flowing river. One stormy night, he risks his life to help a small child across. With each step, the river rises higher, the wind blows harder, and his passenger grows heavier. Finally safe on the other side, the child reveals that he is Jesus, and renames Reprobus Christopher, or ``Bearer-of-Christ.'' dePaola uses his impressive storytelling skills to convey the action, describing miraculous events with simplicity and dignity. The illustrations, with their clean lines and carefully balanced presentation, are vintage dePaola. The giant's size, accentuated by his massive head and large hands, is gentled by his sorrowful eyes. The devil is depicted as a winged beast. The dramatic image of Reprobus, painfully doubled over as he struggles under his burden, suggests the power and mystery of medieval religious paintings. An author's note explains why Christopher was removed from the Catholic Church's Calendar of Saints. Religious debates aside, this story, with its fluently integrated text and illustrations, stands solidly on its own.-Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Ilene Cooper
DePaola continues his excellent series of books with religious subjects. Here, he tells the winning story of a giant named Reprobus, who wishes to serve the most powerful king in the world. He finds an important king, but when he notices the monarch is afraid of the devil, Reprobus asks the devil if he can serve him instead. However, his tenure with the devil is cut short when the devil falters at the sign of the cross. Reprobus now wants to search out Christ, but a holy man says God will find him, and find him he does as Reprobus goes about his business of helping people across the river on his strong shoulders. One stormy night, he attempts to carry a child, but the child grows heavier and the struggle more intense. Finally, the child reveals himself as Christ and renames Reprobus as Christopher, "Bearer-of-Christ." The artwork, done in dePaola's signature style, is almost stark here, with a focus on the individual players of the story. Throughout, the feeling centers less on the supernatural, and more on one man's search for ways to serve his God. In a well-written author's note, dePaola explains that while St. Christopher may not mean much to the Catholic Church anymore, his story still resonates with us.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780718829520
  • Publisher: Lutterworth Press, The
  • Publication date: 7/24/1996
  • Pages: 32

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