Monday, December 3, 2012

Mary's Son

The publisher of Mary's Song, Eerdmans Books, is known for their artsy children's picture books - and Mary's Song fits right in. With unique illustrations by Stephen Alcorn that remind me of color sketches (see the book trailer to see them yourself) and poetic prose by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Mary's Song tells the basics of Christ's birth through Mary's feelings after his birth.

The book begins: "It wasn't the angel Gabriel. His voice was so quiet-soft..." as he explained to Mary she would have Jesus, It also wasn't the trip to Bethlehem. And it didn't start the moment Jesus was born. Instead:
"It began suddenly. First were mumblings from simple shepherds who came from nearby fields, who were told by an angel; Today a Savior is born unto you, and he is Christ the Lord. They knew, at once, they had to see him."

It was then the animals "could not contain the gladness felt." They bleated, neighed, brayed, cooed, "I even thought I heard a whisper from spider above the manger, spinning her web..."

But the noise doesn't bother baby Jesus. All the visitors leave and the barn is quiet and Mary rocks her baby and wonders what will become of him. She feels awe, joy, and wonder.

What I Like: Although this story gets the basics of Jesus' birth correct, the focus here is not on reiterating the Bible, but on feelings - the feelings of Christ's visitors, the animals, and of Mary. Depending upon your personality, you may love this or hate this; I am somewhere in between. I do appreciate Alcorn's illustrations - although they are washed out enough they won't appeal to many very young children.

What I Dislike: For me, this book doesn't quite do it. I think it tries too hard to be "artsy." But I also realize this is subjective and many people will disagree with me. So just remember: This is not a solid, basic book to teach our children about Christ's birth - but it might make a nice companion to one.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: There is no publisher recommendation, but I'd say 5 to 10.

Publishing Info: Eerdmans Books; 2012; ISBN: 978-0802853974; hardback, 32 pgs., $17.

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