The first chapter tells the story of Mary. She's an ordinary girl who is engaged to marry the carpenter Joseph. Then one day the angel Gabrielle visits Mary and tells her: "God says he's going to give you a very special baby!...This child will save his people...You must call him 'Jesus'." Mary is so joyful, she sings a song of thanks to God.
But when Joseph hears Mary is having a baby, he calls off their engagement. Then an angel visits him in a dream and assures him he should marry Mary and raise the baby Jesus. And it's so. Soon Mary is making clothes for the baby and Joseph builds him a little cradle. But then Joseph learns he must go to his home town, Bethlehem, in order to be counted. He's worried, but decides it's best if Mary travels with him. The journey is long, and when they arrive the only place to sleep is in a stable.
The next chapter covers Jesus' birth, with the same sort of accuracy found in the first chapter. Chapter three tells of the angel's announcement to the shepherds, and their visit to the stable. Chapter four tells of the magi, who travel from the East because of a new star. They stop at King Herod's, thinking he must know about the new king. Herod isn't happy about the idea of someone else trying to be king in his area. The wise men travel to Bethlehem and find Jesus' home. They kneel before the now-bigger baby and give him gifts - gifts fit for a king.
This is a small, palm sized book, but it's fatter than average. The pages are thicker than usual, too, and spiral bound. The illustrations by Marie Allen are sweet, full of kind-looking people and animals.
What I Like: I appreciate this longer version of Christ's birth, with so much of the information left out of most picture books. The illustrations are cute and the idea of breaking the story into chapters is brilliant.
What I Dislike: The first chapter is the longest. I would have preferred it a bit shorter.
Publishing Info: Candle Books; 2012; ISBN: 978-1859859414; hardback, 104 pgs., $9.99.
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