The book begins with Luke 1, when an angel visits Zachariah to tell him he'll soon have a son named John. We read about the angel visiting Mary, about Mary and Elizabeth visiting each other, and about John's birth.
The next chapter covers Luke 2, where Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, and baby Jesus is born. The angel speaks to the shepherds and they visit the Christ child. The book closes with Matthew 2, where the wise men visit first king Herod, then baby Jesus in his parent's house.
Throughout, there are questions to ask children as you read, as well as moments to pause and reflect and pray. There is also an accompanying CD where the story is read by a young woman and a praying mantis "buddy" is featured at the end of each chapter.
What I Like: The language in this book is not the sort typically found in children's picture books. There are many books out there offering the Christmas story in simpler words. However, I don't think this is a negative; in fact, for older children, or children who enjoy a larger vocabulary, Peterson's The Christmas Story is refreshing. Things aren't dumbed down.
This books also offers more information about John the Baptist and the Maji than most children's books. I must also compliment Peterson on his accuracy. There were several times I thought he had the story wrong, but when I checked my Bible, I found I was the one in error.
And while I'm not a huge fan of the sculpted cartoon illustrations in this book, my experience tells me Rob Corley and Tom Bancroft's illustrations are exactly what many kids like. Many parents will appreciate that people of many skin colors are depicted.
What I Dislike: If you're not ready to explain what a virgin is, this is not the book for you.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but I think some older children will appreciate this book, too.
Publishing Info: NavPress, 2008; ISBN: 978-1600062766; paperback + CD, $12.99
Special Info: Check out our reviews of other Eugene H. Peterson books.