A Night without Darkness
Jim Madsen, Timothy Robinson
David Alan Allred
Illustrated by Jim Madsen Deseret Book (Salt Lake City), 1999. Hardcover:
Suggested retail price: $15.95 (US)
The genre for which Timothy Robinson is best known (at leastaround BYU) is the personal essay. Robinsons essays In the BleakMidwinter and Time and Chance Happeneth to Them All both wonawards in the David O. McKay Essay Contest and were published inThe Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity.
However, with his latest work, A Night without Darkness,Robinson writes a childrens book telling the story of the dayspreceding Christs birth, a story modeled after the Book of Mormonaccount. The story is accompanied by beautiful illustrations doneby Jim Madsen, and opens with recollections of the predictions ofSamuel the Lamanite as seen from the perspective of a child:Momma and the other women told stories about Him. They spoke ofOne who would bring peacethe One who Samuel said would come whenSamuel stood upon the wall and arrows could not harm him. Some ofthe women doubted and said they were just stories. But otherssaid He would come and make the mighty and the wicked men leave(1). This same child then witnesses the persecutions of thebelievers and their anxiety of waiting for the sign of Christsbirth. The climax, of course, is when there is a night withoutdarkness and the believers faith is vindicated.
This book could serve multiple functions. First, it is anappealing juvenile book with its illustrations. Children who havenot begun reading can still follow the story visually. The textis simple enough that many children will be able to read it aloneas well. A second use of the book is as a teaching tool. Eachpassage is accompanied by a cross reference to the Book of Mormonstory. For example, the passage quoted above is followed by thereference Helaman 13:1-4; 14:2; 16:2. Parents could easily usethis book as a way to introduce their children to the Book ofMormon.
The book is also attractive from the perspective it takes.Because it is written through the eyes of a child, the story putsan interesting twist on the scriptural story. And at this time ofyear, the book also gives an interesting view of the nativityfrom the American continent; in this version the wise men [andwomen] are the ones who believe in Christ.
© 1999 David Alan Allred