Eli is a young boy living in Bethlehem. His father is a shepherd. Eli desperately wants to follow his father into the fields with the sheep, but he also wants to make good choices. When their father asks Eli and his sister, Leah, to stay back and clean the stables, Leah chooses to abandon their work and play with her friends instead, but Eli decides to honor his word.
Eli prepares to head home after a long day of difficult, smelly work, but as he exits the stable, he meets a stranger accompanied by a donkey and a very pregnant wife. The man asks if they may spend the night in the stable. Eli considers what would be the right choice. He considers what he has heard from the rabbi and what he would want someone to do for his mother or his sister, then welcomes the strangers into the now cleaned stalls. He then leaves to fetch some water for them. When he returns, he hears a baby's cries and then sees his father running from the hills to find the Messiah. At the end of the story, readers learn that the baby's name is Jesus.
Eric Walton served as illustrator. His drawings are simple and primarily feature earth tones.
What I Like: This is a well-written, sweet story. It teaches good work ethics and the importance of honoring one's word.
What I Dislike: There is nothing overtly wrong with this story, but there is also nothing extraordinary that makes it stand out among a sea of other Christmas books telling similar stories and targeting the same audience. There seems to be an imbalance between the amount of text per illustration, which I've reflected in "Age Appeal" below. Also, as with most self-published books, the price is high.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: The publisher doesn't specify, but I would say, based on the length of the story, 6-10.
Publisher Info: AuthorHouse, 2009; ISBN: 1449041167; Paperback; 28 pages; $13.99
Buy it at Amazon.com for $10.85!