From School Library Journal
PreS-2-Bryan first thought of the titular question while riding through the hills of Africa. He imagined that the bumpy road was similiar to the one that Mary might have traveled on her way to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. This beautifully written poem answers the question by stating that "A child built the stable./A little shepherd boy/Apprenticed as a carpenter/In his father's employ." When Mary and Joseph are turned away from other places, the little shepherd offers to shelter them. The prose is matched perfectly with Bryan's vibrant tempera and acrylic illustrations. The shepherd boy, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are depicted with warm brown skin tones set against a rainbow of colors. Each spread has a border to highlight the resplendent artwork and text at the bottom of each page. The entire poem is reprinted on the last spread. A welcome addition for all collections.-Diane Olivo-Posner, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The award-winning Bryan offers a Nativity story told through the eyes of one young boy. The rhymed couplets introduce a little shepherd who is also apprenticed as a carpenter / in his father’s employ. When a pregnant Mary asks if he knows a place that she and Joseph can stay, he welcomes them to his stable. Bryan writes that he got the idea for the book while traveling through Africa, which is reflected in both the book’s cultural details and in the diverse characters. Although the African setting extends the universality, it does make for a bit of confusion. On a two-page spread, the text asks, Was Jesus born in Italy, / Russia, Spain, Japan? / No. He was born in Bethlehem. A rich and Verdant land. The artwork shows a very different Bethlehem with an African drummer, a giraffe, a zebra, a monkey, and an elephant, all in a jungle setting. Executed in exuberant folk-style art that shines like stained glass, the pictures have a simplicity that will appeal to children. There’s much to look at here. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ilene Cooper