Opening the Box of Delights: A stunning visual celebration of John Masefield’s Christmas classic by Philip W. Errington (DLT, £20 (£18); 978-0-232-53487-0).
“John Masefield’s fantasy novel The Box of Delights is an enduring Christmas classic. It has a unique place in children’s literature and continues to inspire and engage modern readers with its timeless adventure of ancient magic, good vanquishing evil, and Christmas miracles. For many, watching the 1984 BBC TV adaptation is a Christmas tradition and ‘The Box of Delights Appreciation Society’ has over 2,000 members on Facebook! This visual celebration of The Box of Delights is written by a world expert on the text and showcases fascinating illustrations, photographs, letters, manuscripts and designs from Masefield’s life and across all of the story’s many manifestations – through the different editions of the book (whose illustrators included Quentin Blake), and adaptations on television, radio and stage. With a foreword by award-winning children’s author Piers Torday.”
Fragments for Fractured Times: What feminist practical theology brings to the table by Nicola Slee (SCM Press, £25 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £20); 978-0-334-05908-0).
“If ever a period of time felt ‘fractured’ it is now. Whichever way we turn, we witness the dismembering and fracturing of many previously taken for granted realities, with maps and borders — physical and metaphorical — being redrawn before our eyes. What place for the feminist practical theologian in such a climate? In Fragments for Fractured Times, one of the world’s leading feminist practical theologians, Nicola Slee, brings together 15 years of papers, articles, talks and sermons, many of them previously unpublished. Collected from diverse times, places, settings and occasions, Slee offers an introduction to each fragment, ‘holding it up to the light and examining its size, shape, texture and pattern’. Drawing on a wide and diverse range of her writing, Slee demonstrates the richness and variety of feminist practical theological writing. What feminist theology brings to the table of scholarly thinking and embodied practice is, she suggests, something creative, artful, prophetic as well as playful — a resource for Christian living and thinking in fractured times.
Why Dante Matters: An intelligent person’s guide by John Took (Bloomsbury, £20 (£18); 978-1-4729-5103-8).
“The year 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, a poet who, as T. S. Eliot put it, ‘divides the world with Shakespeare, there being no third’. His, like ours, was a world of moral uncertainty and political violence, all of which made not only for the agony of exile but for an ever deeper meditation on the nature of human happiness. In Why Dante Matters, John Took offers by way of three in particular of Dante's works — the Vita Nova as the great work of his youth, the Convivio as the great work of his middle years and the Commedia as the great work of his maturity — an account, not merely of Dante’s development as a poet and philosopher, but of his continuing presence to us as a guide to man’s wellbeing as man. Committed as he was to the welfare not only of his contemporaries but of those ‘who will deem this time ancient’, Dante's is in this sense a discourse overarching the centuries, a discourse confirming him in his status, not merely as a cultural icon, but as a fellow traveller.”
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.