Friday, November 26, 2010

The Very First Christmas: Changing Pictures

My two year old absolutely loves changing picture books and The Very First Christmas is an excellent example of this fun, "magical" style of storytelling. Each illustration is made of thin slats - kind of like vertical blinds. When a lever is pulled - viola! The illustration suddenly changes, revealing new "blinds" and a new picture. And in The Very First Christmas, sometimes the change happens so smoothly and beautifully, my two year old gasps in delight.

The text of the book tells the familiar Christmas story: An angel visits Mary and tells her she'll have a baby. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem (no mention is made about the unusual circumstances of Mary's pregnancy). There's no room to sleep in, so Mary and Joseph go to a stable to rest. Baby Jesus is born in the stable. Shepherds hear from angels that "a special baby is born;" they rush to visit Jesus. Wise men see a new star. "That means a new king is born," says one. They follow the star until they find Jesus.

But it's the changing pictures that make this book so special. The book features an oval shaped opening in the cover, and through it, we initially see Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus in the manger. But as we open the book, the image changes to an angel visiting Mary. After this, the picture changing takes place via a thick flap, changing an illustration showing Joseph and Mary being turned away at an inn to being an illustration of them in a stable, and so on.
What I Like: This is a decent introduction to the Christmas story and is much more appealing to my toddler because of the changing pictures. And I love that the tabs that change the pictures are sturdier than average. Nonetheless, changing picture books are somewhat delicate, so it's probably better for parents to pull the tabs.
What I Dislike: There are gaping holes in the story, but as long as you view this as a supplemental book, or an introduction to the biblical story, I don't think you'll be displeased
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, ages 4 to 8, but I'd say toddler to kindergarten.

Publishing Info: Candle Books, 2010; ISBN: 978-1859858707; board book, 14 pgs., $11.99.
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