"When my mother, Angela, was six years old, she felt sorry for the Baby Jesus in the Christmas crib...."
Frank McCourt's first Christmas book is by turns tender and heartwarming, and wholly unforgettable. Angela is six years old and worries for the Baby Jesus on the altar of St. Joseph's Church near School House Lane in Limerick, Ireland, where she lives. December nights are damp and cold, and the church is dark. The Baby Jesus' mother doesn't even have a blanket to cover him. The Baby is sure to need Angela's help, even if she is not allowed to step near the altar, especially by herself.
Filled with the character and incident that have made Pulitzer Prize recipient Frank McCourt internationally renowned and beloved, Angela and the Baby Jesus is a timeless story of family--and all of its joy, tradition, love, and incongruity--and a book for the generations to cherish.
Amazon.com Exclusive Angela and the Baby Jesus, the first Christmas book from beloved author Frank McCourt, is an unprecedented event, with a children's edition published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and an adult edition published by Scribner. Set in Ireland, the story is about the childhood of Angela, of Angela's Ashes. Each edition has the same story written by McCourt but is illustrated by a different artist. Raul Colon illustrated the children's edition and Loren Long illustrated the adult edition. Amazon asked both artists to write about their experiences illustrating the same scene from McCourt's story to get an inside look at how they interpreted McCourt's words.
Raul Colon on the Fireside Scene from Angela and the Baby Jesus: This image for Frank McCourt's Angela and the Baby Jesus picture book came to me just by thinking of a warm fireplace on a cold night.
In this particular scene the family sits around the fire to chat after tea. Angela's little brother is giving up the secret that the "Baby Jesus" is in the bed upstairs. Angela shows a bit of worry in her face, since she quietly snuck the "baby" into the house. Surely she'll be in trouble now.
Throughout the story I hardly show any of the adult faces, focusing mainly on the children's world. Hence, Mother's back is turned toward us. I also cut off the little brother's face by having Mother's turn-of-the-century hairdo get in the way (A little thing I learned from the great artist Degas.) It gives the scene intimacy, as if the viewer is there taking a snapshot with his camera. All in all a fun and rewarding book to illustrate. It was an honor to turn McCourt's words into actual pictures. --Raul Colon
Loren Long on the Fireside Scene from Angela and the Baby Jesus: Usually little Angela would want to be right in the middle of the action as the family sits by the fire and talks. But not this time--she has a secret upstairs.
At this point in the story, I'm giving the reader a seat behind the family in the shadows away from the fire. At the same time we, the readers, know about Angela's secret in the bedroom upstairs and we see her hanging back from the others, sneaking peeks up the staircase. We can see that she has something more important on her mind than her family's chattering.
In my visual interpretation of Angela and the Baby Jesus, I wanted to tap into Frank McCourt's sophisticated blend of gritty realism and subtle humor. For this reason, I specifically chose a limited color palette. I worked with acrylics on canvas and tried to keep the paintings a bit edgy and raw.
Choosing images came naturally when working on this story. I was taken with the balance of reverence, innocence, and humor in Frank’s text and I simply tried to come up with creative ways to portray these elements in a subtle but hopefully profound way. --Loren Long