Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Angels

If you want a Christmas book to read before and after the holiday, Christmas Angels is a strong choice. Part of the "Read and Share" Bible story series, this volume, retold by Gwen Ellis and illustrated by Steve Smallman, focuses on the role of angels in the first Christmas, the years following Jesus' birth, and even in our lives today.

The book tells how angels visited Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds at different times on or before Jesus' birth. Angels again visited Joseph to tell him to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt, then finally to return home after Kind Herod had died. God used the angels to share His plans with these people. "God and His angels had kept them safe."

The last page of the book explains that we don't see angels very often today, but they still watch and care for us, just like they did Mary and Joseph. It also tells that Jesus is "right next to us all the time. He is always taking care of us because He loves us the best of all."

The illustrations, consistent with this series, feature wonderful cartoon characters, loads of color and nice details. The middle of the book, the pages featuring Jesus' birth, include a large two-page pop-up illustration.

What I Like: My kids love this book. They like the pictures, the pop-up ... everything. The text is large and clear, which is nice for beginning readers. I like the unique focus. It offers a different perspective from most other children's Christmas books.

What I Dislike: The last page causes me doctrinal anxiety. It's not that I DISlike it; it just makes me a little nervous. Yes, angels are all around us and, yes, they do care for us, but only because God has instructed them to do so. I worry that some will take the text too far, elevating angels and marginalizing the God who created them and empowers them. Also, Scripture tells us that Jesus is in Heaven preparing a place for us (John 14); He is seated at the right hand of God waiting for the time of His return (Luke 22:69; Hebrews 8:1). Some might argue this proves He is not "right next to us" as this book states. God is omnipresent, and Jesus is God ... I just feel the text here walks a very fine line that may lead to confusion.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: 3-7

Publisher Info: Thomas Nelson, 2007; ISBN: 1400308542; Hardback; $12.99

Buy it Now at for $5.55!

This book is also available as a boardbook (Thomas Nelson, 2009). Order it from for $6.99 or from for $5.49.

Special Info: Thomas Nelson has produced a line of animated videos to accompany the "Read and Share" series. The Read and Share DVD Bible contains the highest quality Bible videos I've seen (that don't feature vegetables). There are several individual volumes, but the Christmas video corresponds to this book. It reinforces most of the content and offers additional details about Jesus' birth and Mary and Joseph's roles in fulfilling God's prophecies. I highly recommend all the videos, even if you don't have the books that accompany them. They're fantastic, and my kids LOVE them!

See our reviews of other books by author Gwen Ellis. You may also be interested in our reviews of other books featuring illustrator Steve Smallman.

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