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The Strangers at the Manger (Chime Travelers) Paperback – August 19, 2016
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“Lisa Hendey invites us to enter into the Christmas story with her beloved twin heroes, Patrick and Katie, as they learn firsthand how to welcome the stranger, share from the heart, and rekindle the joy of Jesus’s birth. Through this festive, charming, and imaginative Chime Travelers book, the true meaning of Christmas will shine brightly in the hearts of children and parents alike.” —Sarah Damm, mom of six and editorial and marketing director for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization
“This latest adventure with Chime Travelers Patrick and Katie is rich with warmth and charm. Lisa Hendey gives us a story that manages not only to bring young imaginations to the realities of Christ’s birth, but also brings Christmas to life in the midst of our present-day experiences. Highly recommended—for all ages!” —Erin McCole Cupp, author, Unclaimed
“This is a fantastic book. It reminds me of the Ignatian spiritual exercises, but for kids! What a terrific way for children to engage in the faith and in the Bible more deeply!” —Christine Johnson, Catholic mom and blogger at DomesticVocation.com
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The twins meet Mary and Joseph while they are on the road to Bethlehem, and end up staying with them for a long period of time. They get to witness Jesus' birth and the visits from the shepherds and wise men. They also work hard to help the Holy Family with household chores and babysitting. From Mary they learn the importance of kindness to strangers, and when the return home they immediately put that lesson to work.
The Chime Traveling twins remind me of the kids in the Magic Treehouse series. Lisa Hendey brings the story of the first Christmas to life in a cute and breezy way. Jenn Bower's illustrations match Hendey's tone perfectly. The Strangers at the Manger is great for all kids (and grown-ups). Hendey is Roman Catholic, so some of the words may not be familiar to non-Catholics. Nevertheless, it's a fun read, getting me in the Christmas spirit and reminding me of the joy and miracle of Jesus' birth.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
The Brady twins Patrick and Katie have had some unique adventures after the family became more active in the parish of Saint Anne's, and specifically joined the cleaning team. The reason for joining the cleaning team might have something to do with Patrick's pet frog ending up in the baptismal font. (But alas that is part of another story.) For it seems that at certain points after hearing the church bells chime they have each travelled into the past. They then stay there until they learn a lesson. This book begins on the last day before Christmas break, as school is letting out the Brady twins notice a new family at the school with Fr. Miguel and Sr. Margaret. The newcomers are the Perez family and they do not look like anyone else at the parish. Patrick and Katie learn that the Perez's need a safe place to stay and are staying at the parish centre. While helping clean the church for Christmas service, the twins Chime Travel, the appear on a hillside outside a cave with a donkey braying nearby.
The children end up back in time at the first Christmas story. They meet Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem and join them on the journey. Over their time in the past they learn many lessons and start thinking about life back home in their own time. The children interact with a number of biblical characters, but most closely with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. The children also meet the shepherds, the wise men, the visit to the temple, and more. When the Magi arrive, Katie asks Mary, “Are you sure you want all of these strangers around the baby?" Mary smiles. "Strangers are simply new friends, just waiting to be loved.” And that is a sentiment needed today. And once they are home their attitude and interactions with the Perez family change drastically. Overall it is a very moving read. It is a powerful story and really brings the Christmas story alive for kids and those who read to and with them.
The illustrations are a great addition to the story and Jenn Bower does a great job with capturing the sentiment of the book in the pictures. This book is a wonderful retelling of the nativity story and makes it very real. If the rest of the books in the series are as good there is some amazing reading ahead for the kids and me! And I hope that this is not the last in the series. Well done.