One Baby Jesus by Patricia A. Pingry is an illustrated version of the classic song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but with a Christian bent. (If you're thinking, "But 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' already has symbolic Christian meaning!" you might want to read this Snopes article on the topic.)
With attractive watercolor illustrations by Wendy Edelson, each two page spread shows one aspect of the nativity, using little children in the place of Joseph, Mary, the wise men, the shepherds, and the angels. The text mirrors the classic song, beginning:
"On the first day of Christmas
my mama gave to me
one baby Jesus sleeping peacefully."
The accompanying illustration shows a mother and small child near a "baby Jesus" in a manger. The book goes on to include "two parents smiling, three wise men giving," and "four camels plodding," stars, donkeys, shepherds, angels, lambs, cows, and doves, ending with "twelve hugs and kisses" (from mama).
What I Like: The illustrations are lovely, and really capture my two year old's attention. She also loves to be sung to, so this book is ideal for introducing the basic concept of Christmas to her. Too, she enjoys counting out the animals with me. In addition, I like that this book could easily be made into a countdown to Christmas. Twelve days before Christmas, read the book with your child, then set out the nativity stable and the baby Jesus. Then, as each day passes, read the book again and set out an additional part of the nativity scene.
What I Dislike: I wish there was a stronger ending to this book - something about the true meaning of Christmas. I also wish that instead of multiple stars, the text could have somehow made it clear it was one, especially bright star that marked Jesus' birth.
Overall Rating: I would probably give this book a "Good" review, except that my daughter really adores this book, so clearly it has kid appeal. Therefore, it gets a "Very Good."
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 1 to 4, but infants will like this, too, and preschoolers will enjoy singing along with you.
Publishing Info: Candy Cane Press, 2002; ISBN: 0824941381; board book, $6.95.