Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Many Miles to Bethlehem?

How Many Miles to Bethlehem?, written by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Peter Malone, tells the age-old story of Jesus’ birth, but with a twist. The story is told from many different perspectives. Each page, or double-paged spread, introduces a new character, each with a new voice.

The book begins with Mary saying, “I am Mary. Tight as a drum. Round as the lady moon calling out to me. We’re so far from home, and my baby will be born tonight.”

The book ends with Baby Jesus speaking, “I am the light of light. The baby who will cradle the world. In your heart, hold me. I will never leave you.”

The author gives the point-of-view of the shepherds, the wise men, the angels, and even some of the animals.

The illustrations are done in colors reminiscent of a desert setting, mostly in shades of brown, as would be appropriate for a book of this nature. The paintings themselves are very formal, though; they look like someone set up the characters for a ceramic or wax Nativity set and then painted them.

What I Like: I like the different points of view given for the story – for Mary, the inn keeper, the shepherd, and even the animals.

What I Dislike: None of the story is told from Joseph’s point of view. I thought that was a bit strange, as he is certainly a central figure in the story.

Even though I like the different points of view, written this way it makes the book sound more like a play than a story. That will make it more difficult for children to relate to. On the plus side, though, perhaps kids could actually use the format to create their own play.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: Grades 1-3.

Publisher Info: Strictly-by-the-Book, Inc., 2004; ISBN: 0439676428; Hardcover, $16.95.

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