Dawn of Fear
US edition
Candlewick Press
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Susan Duerden
The Magic Maker: a Portrait of John Langstaff,
Creator of the Christmas Revels
On Christmas Eve, 1920, John Meredith Langstaff was born into a music-filled home where a rousing carol party was the peak of his family’s year. Half a century later, his inspired Christmas Revels was born, a theatrical weaving of diverse traditional song, folk dance, and drama that has become a beloved institution across the United States. This is the captivating story of “Jack” Langstaff, from his days as a star choirboy to his early career as a noted recital singer; from a daunting WWII injury to his work as recording artist, TV performer, teacher, and children’s author. Along the way, his passion for music, ritual, and community fused to spark the incomparable Revels, a participatory celebration that promises to children of all ages for even more generations to come.
Listen to an author interview with Brian O’Donovan, host of WGBH Boston’s “A Celtic Sojourn” (segment begins 95 min into the program—just scroll the timer to find it).
Learn more about Jack’s Revels.
Booklist starred review
A vivid combination of biography and memoir.
This is a selective rather than exhaustive account, with well-chosen examples and quotations that convey the breadth and appeal of an extraordinary man. A loving remembrance and a special gift for all who have encountered Langstaff and his performances.
Susan Cooper’s prose is simple, deft, and beautiful—as always—and she expertly navigates the line between formal biography and reflection on her and Jack's friendship. ... This book inspired me to live my life with as much passion as he did.
What a life, don’t you think? What an amazing life. ... You learn so much in this book and the subject is so interesting and Langstaff and his crew such wonderful people that really it’s the best sort of biography.
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