I Saw Three Ships

The morning star still shone, and when Polly opened the window the air was crisp and cool. As she leaned out, breathing in its freshness, all the cocks began to crow. And then her lips parted and the tingling blood sent a flow of warmth to her very fingertips. She leaned out farther, her eyes wide, for three ships were sailing towards the harbor. One had a red sail and one had a brown sail, and one had a sail like the wing of a swan.

Little Polly Flowerdew lives with her two maiden aunts, and she is absolutely sure that something special is going to happen this Christmas. She leaves her bedroom window open on Christmas Eve, just in case the three wise men decide to come visit. When she wakes up on Christmas morning, more than one miracle seems to have taken place.

A moving, lyrical, and endearing chapter book, celebrating the magic as well as the mystery of Christmas, this is our first title by Elizabeth Goudge, mistress of the art of storytelling. Charmingly illustrated with ink drawings by Margot Tomes, it is a perfect Christmas read-aloud for young children and parents looking for something slightly sentimental and bracingly wholesome.

Elizabeth Goudge was born in Somerset, England, in 1900. She is the author of many best-selling books for children and adults, including The Little White Horse, which won the Carnegie Medal for Children’s Books, and I Saw Three Ships (David R. Godine, 2008). Goudge, who died in 1984, was among J.K. Rowling’s favorite authors as a child, and The Little White Horse was a direct influence on the Harry Potter series.

Margot Ladd Tomes was an American artist and illustrator of children’s books. Two books that she illustrated were cited by The New York Times as one of the best children’s books of the year, Jack and the Wonder Beans in 1977 and If There Were Dreams to Sell in 1984.

She was born in Park Hill, Yonkers, New York City cousin of painter Guy Pène du Bois and illustrator William Pène du Bois. She grew up in rural Nassau County. Before illustrating books she designed wallpaper and fabric. In 1959 she illustrated her first book The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier before specialising in children’s books from 1963; illustrating over sixty during her career. They included books by Jean Fritz (Homesick: My Own Story winning a Newbery Honor), Judith St. George and Aileen Fisher.