Review: Three Wise Women

Three Wise Women by Mary Hoffman. Pictures by Lynne Russell.

Title: Three Wise Women
Author: Mary Hoffman
Illustrator: Lynne Russell
Publisher: Phyllis Fogelman Books
Year: 1999
Hardcover: 32 pages
Ages: 6+
IBSN: 978-0803724662 

Three Wise Women  by Mary Hoffman is the story of three women of different backgrounds who are drawn by the light of a big bright star to follow a path of starlight. The three women leave their homelands and meet on the path.

At the end of their journey, the three wise women encounter other people who followed the star. They decide to go inside the stable, which is the humble home of a family with a newborn baby. The starlight is all over the baby.

The three wise women notice that there are expensive gifts next to the baby's improvised crib. They wish to give gifts to the baby too, but they don’t have much. The woman from the west gives him a loaf of bread. The woman from the southeast tells him a story. The son of the woman from the south gives the baby a "kiss full of starlight."

Nobody remembers the three wise women visiting the newborn baby, but their special gifts had wonderful consequences in his life.


I chose Three Wise Women because I wanted my daughters to see another perspective on the traditional story of the Three Kings. Mary Hoffman successfully creates an alternative story in which three women visit the newborn baby Jesus.

I liked that the story doesn’t imply that the Three Wise didn’t visit baby Jesus. In fact, it implies that the women arrived to the stable after them, making Three Wise Women a complementary tale.

The best part of the story is learning that the women's humble gifts made a difference in the life of baby Jesus.The illustrations deserve two thumps up for portraying diverse characters and Maria, Joseph, and baby Jesus as they more likely looked like according to scholars.

This story is great for kids to learn about priceless gifts, such as love, and that people come from different parts of the world. It also gives girls the opportunity to see women in characters traditionally reserved for men, particularly because it is a Christian story.

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