Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On This Special Night

On This Special Night by Claire Freedman is a gorgeous picture book about Christmas. In this simple story, Little Kitten finds it hard to sleep because the stars are brighter than usual - and one star, bigger and brighter than the rest, catches her attention. Soon a tired donkey comes into the barn that Little Kitten and Mother Cat are cuddled up in. He refreshes himself with some water from the trough and mentions he's taking a special journey. Next, a lamb asks if she can rest in the hay after a long day of traveling. Little Kitten asks Lamb if she knows why the star is so bright, but before Lamb can answer some mice ask for shelter. "We've been walking forever, and our paws are frozen!" they say.

And so the night goes, with a variety of tired animals taking a short respites in the barn. The night is so bustling, the best Little Kitten can get out of anyone is that "Tonight is a very special night...Something amazing is going to happen." Finally, Little Kitten and Mother Cat climb to the top of the barn to see if they can tell what's going on. They see three camels with riders traveling toward a little stable not far away. Little Kitten and Mother Cat follow them.

They crowd between other animals to find...a baby. A very special baby sleeping in the hay.
"The animals watched quietly as, above them all, the bright, bright star blazed in the night...shining with peace and joy and love."

What I Like: This book is mostly about the magnificent illustrations by Simon Mendez. They glow in soft hues and show the animals in realistic fashion, yet surrounded by what might be called a heavenly glow. On This Special Night is truly a feast for the eyes.

What I Dislike: We are never told who the "special baby" is, or why he was born. So if you're looking for a book explaining the true meaning of Christmas, skip On This Special Night. On the other hand, if your children are already familiar with the biblical Christmas story, this book is a nice addition to your Christmas book shelf.

Overall Rating: Judging by the story alone, I'd give it a "Good." But add the fabulous illustrations, and I have to give this title a rating of "Very Good."

Age Appeal: According to the publisher 4 - 8, but I'd say 3 - 6 or so.

Publishing Info: Scholastic, 2009; ISBN: 978-0545104869; hardback, $14.99

Buy Now at Amazon.com for $10.19

Bookmark and Share

No comments: