Gift Ideas, Kids’ Project, Family Photo, & Homeschool Activity: A Full Service Post!

Renee Ann Smith —  November 21, 2010 — 23 Comments

“You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they traveled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus?”

Thus begins Henry Van Dyke’s tale of Artaban, a noble Magi from Persia, and the journey that changes his life. Van Dyke’s novella is just the type of rich, old-fashioned story that touches your heart, even while its prose stretches your vocabulary. And the English teacher in me loved it! Soak up the beautiful language in the quotes I used.

When we first meet Artaban, he is described as “a tall, dark man of about 40 years” with “the brow of a dreamer. A man of sensitive feeling but inflexible will. One of those who, in whatever age they may live, are born for inward conflict and a life of quest.” Artaban and his fellow scholars have learned through their study of the stars that there is a Creator. One of the Magi states,

“The stars are the thoughts of the Eternal. They are numberless. But the thoughts of man can be counted, like the years of his life. The wisdom of the Magi is the greatest of all wisdoms on earth, because it knows its own ignorance. And that is the secret of the power.”

But Artaban is not content with his lack of knowledge and longs to know this Eternal One personally. He believes he has found a star by which to steer his course and invites his friends to join him on a quest: to follow the star to Jerusalem and “see and worship the promised one who shall be born King of Israel.” In preparation for the journey, Artaban sells all that he owns to purchase three precious jewels—a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl—as tribute for the King.

His friends, however, refuse to accompany him, attributing his vain dream to “too much looking at the stars and cherishing lofty thoughts.” In spite of this, Artaban departs on his quest.

What he discovers along the way shows how Christ’s birth should affect our everyday dealings with those around us, not just at Christmas but all the year.

I was first introduced to Artaban through the movie version of this story, The Fourth Wise Man, starring Martin Sheen and Alan Arkin. The movie captures the main themes of the novella but with a lighter, more comic tone. And the movie adds a great character, Artaban’s servant Orantes. Orantes, who has been forced to accompany his master, goes to some hilarious lengths in an attempt to convince Artaban to return home.

Pamela Kennedy also retold this tale in a children’s version of the story, which is enhanced by Robert Barrett’s elegant illustrations. The kids’ story stays true to the theme and retains a flavor of the the graceful language. I love Artaban just as much in this book. From the time he prays, “God of Truth and Light, show me the way of wisdom, which only You know,” to the end of his thirty-year journey, he remains noble and good. I shared this classic with my five-year-old niece, and I think she enjoyed it!

Christmas Gift Guide: Pick up whichever version of this story will work best for your family! The movie would be most appreciated by junior high age and up. The children’s book is aimed at ages 4 through 8.

Bonus ideas: If you homeschool, use a copy of the original novella to compare/contrast with the movie version for grades 6 or 7 and up. Use Scripture and the Pamela Kennedy’s story book with your little ones. Then print this notebooking paper of the wise men to recap the Bible story together. Or use the free cutouts from this Sunday school lesson to play a game called Search for Jesus.

You can purchase a copy of The Story of the Other Wise Man here. You can also take advantage of the free Kindle download. However, the illustrations will be missing.

You can purchase a copy of Pamela Kennedy’s The Other Wise Man at this link.

This link leads to the dvd of the movie The Fourth Wise Man.

And remember to hop on over to the Creative Madness Mama blog. Scroll to the second list on this post (before the comments) and click on any link to read a review of a Christmas-themed Christian fiction story.

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

23 responses to Gift Ideas, Kids’ Project, Family Photo, & Homeschool Activity: A Full Service Post!

  1. I love this story. I love the movie and the book and have used both as tools to help the kids keep their focus on the true meaning of Christmas. They are wonderful for kids of all ages!!

  2. I’ve never seen the movie or book. I love that you added curriculum ideas. Definitely one I will look for this holiday season.

    It was neat to meet the ladies at Alpha & Omega. I recently found out Ruth lives about an hour from me and tried to come out for a signing she had a few months ago, but it didn’t work out. I met Debra over the summer when we planned an ACFW get-together for upstate NY at her cottage. We watched some of Michael Hauge’s video. Joy is from Buffalo…she is not in ACFW but we had met each other around the blogs and eventually finding out I was from Rochester and she was from Buffalo figured we would meet at some point. So Ruth’s signing seemed like an ideal time. We met at Panera’s first…where we ran into Deb! Neat!

    I think we are all thinking about planning some sort of central NY get-together. Are you part of ACFW? Let me know if you might be interested. I don’t know where it will end up being. I know there are ACFW members in Rochester area, Buffalo area, Finger Lakes area, Syracuse area…and the head of ACFW Northeast is in Binghamton. Maybe there are others in your area!

    • I am in ACFW–I just joined this summer and am so glad I finally did! The only thing I’ve found close to me is a non-ACFW group in NYC. I’d be willing to drive to meet up with you and others because that’s the main reason I joined. Definitely keep me informed! Thanks, Julia!

  3. I love your posts. I have something for you over on my blog… 😉

  4. Renee Ann,

    OK, I will definitely keep you posted. What is the nearest city to you? OK, now I’m going to pray about this…it would be so neat to get some sort of NY network going.

    • I’m about 40 miles south of Albany. Let me know what you figure out. I did join a regional group through AFCW, but I’m not sure I understood much about it. And it didn’t seem like anyone was close by geographically . . .

  5. Wow! I have never heard of the books or the movie. The book sounds like a great read. I’ll have to add that to my ever-growing list. 🙂

    Oh, and thanks for your latest comment! That means a lot to me coming from a teacher. 🙂 And thanks for becoming a follower of my blog, too!

    • It’s great to have you visit! Are you familiar with the kids’ book in the post before this one? It’s another great read for teachers. (But I’m old. Your mom probably read it to you!)

  6. Such a great message to let Christ’s birth affect our daily dealings with people. Jesus is so much more than just a nice manger scene!

  7. I will have to find this book and movie for the kids. I think they’d love it!

  8. It is wonderful how you offer all of these ideas. One of my sons would greatly enjoy the movie and the novella. Thanks.

  9. Your ideas for use with homeschooling are great! I will definitely keep this book in mind for any siblings or young cousins I get to buy gifts for.

    I email replied to your comment about Give a Give that Gives back, but I’m not sure if it will actually go to your email. So, what I said was; THANK YOU for mentioning it in an upcoming post; I really appreciate it! I’ve created a button that links to the page where I will put the advertising and information about each store. You could include the button or just the link to the page if you’d like 🙂 Thanks so much Renee!

  10. Doh, I should have put the link. I’ll go put that up on Laura’s site now in case anyone else is interested. I thought of you since you are very interested in children and children’s ministry.

  11. I home school my kiddos and this sounds like a wonderful activity! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

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  1. Creative Madness Mama - November 22, 2010

    […] Holiday Reading Challenge. I know there are more of you out there… the winner this week is Renee @ Doorkeeper! Congrats […]

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