Page 45 Review by Stephen
There cometh a bitter wind into the house. And I am cold.
This is a book about kindess. And kindness is the most important thing in the world.
Kindness may cost you dearly, it may cost just a little, or it may cost you nothing at all. Yet still many withhold it out of sheer spite or lack of empathy; lack of imagination or lack of thought.
Each of those levels on either side of the equation is explored by our dearly beloved Oscar in two tales designed to make us think twice about how we treat each other: The Selfish Giant and The Star Child.
In the former a giant takes umbrage at the innocent and innocuous delight local children display while relishing the beauty of his garden. They are neither vandals nor hoodlums, but nevertheless they are enjoying what is most emphatically his! He therefore decides to build a wall.*
Winter had already crept into his heart and soul; now its icy tendrils spread, wreaking havoc on his garden. And his castle. And so his happiness. Mean-spiritedness: you reap what you sow.
Its a relatively straightforward tale, albeit with a most unexpected dénouement.
The Star Child, however, is far more involved and complex, touching on Oscars dedication to socialism with a small s meaning simply that you help provide for others whether you have much or nothing at all. This he and P. Craig Russell most successfully evoke this compassion in THE HAPPY PRINCE which reduced both myself and my mother to tears, but this is a very good start.
A hard-up hunter bags not a stag, but a baby fallen to Earth. He takes the child home only to be chastised by his missus because, frankly, they are finding it nigh-on impossible to make ends meet, and put food on the table for themselves and their own. Nevertheless, she is moved, and sets the babe down to bed with her own.
Over the years they raise the child to young adulthood. But the boy is proud, pretty, petty and narcissistic, cruel to those who he considers ugly or inferior, including his natural mother. He is the very epitome of ingratitude, having understood not one jot the sacrifices his adoptive parents have made, nor why they made them. Well. Is he in for a rude awakening!
This splendid library of Oscar Wilde short stories adapted by P. Craig Russell is overwhelmingly bought by adults for adults who relish the craft and the kindness. And that is the best testament there could be for all-ages graphic novels. Might I suggest, however, that these are the very life lessons which our youngest most need to learn if we are to nurture their growth, empathy and understanding in ways which will foster a much better world for us all?
Please buy one of these for Christmas.
* [Metaphor alert! ed.]