Top positive review
42 people found this helpful
An unusual but moving way to tell the Christmas story.
on December 17, 2001
I've been collecting children's Christmas books for years, but this is one of the most beautiful and original ones I have ever seen. Religious Christmas books don't have a lot of variety in the story, of course. They tell about the birth of Jesus and no matter how beautiful the story is, everyone tells it pretty much the same way. The only thing that usually distinguishes one nativity book from another is the quality of the illustrations.
The illustrations in this book are nice, although nothing spectacular. But Walter Wangerin has found a unique way of telling the story. He has Mary tell the child Jesus (he looks about six or seven) about how he was born. It's a wonderful approach because every child loves to hear about the day he or she was born, and this gives them a strong identification with Jesus, and creates a touching sense of the warm relationship between Mary and her son that is usually missing from nativity stories. Her emphasis in telling the story is on all the love he was given at birth Ñ from God, from Mary and Joseph, from the angels, and from shepherds and kings.
The other unique quality of this book is that throughout the story, in subtle ways (but directly enough so that my six-year-old was aware of it) the author reminds you that Jesus will die. Mary tells the birth story to Jesus to comfort him when he is treated cruelly by other children (and she seems well aware that this will not be the last time he is treated horribly), and in the final illustration, Joseph is teaching Jesus some carpentry skills and we see Jesus joining two pieces of wood together in the shape of a cross. It is a sad undertone, one you don't usually find in Christmas books (and one many parents may prefer to avoid at Christmas time). But the context is this: at his birth, God and the world gave Jesus love, and through his death he returned that love. At Christmas, we usually focus on the joy not the sorrow, but I found this book very moving, and so did my daughter. We have dozens of Christmas books in the house, but over the past few weeks she's been asking for this one almost every day.