Monday, November 23, 2009

The First Christmas Present

"The first Christmas present was given by a father," Marilyn Sommerer's new Christmas picture book begins. A mother wrapped the first Christmas present. The father entrusted someone to keep that present safe, and when the present was given, the first Christmas carol was sung. What was that present? asks The First Christmas Present.

The author then explains: God was the father who gave the gift - Jesus. Mary wrapped that gift in swaddling cloth. Joseph was entrusted by the Father to care for baby Jesus, and the first Christmas song was sung by angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds.

Some wise men traveled a long way to give a present to the Present. "What do you think He would like you to give him?" the author asks. Perhaps a song, or a prayer, or showing love to another person. All those things, the author said, make a wonderful present to Jesus. "Now we can have peace in our hearts because we know Jesus loves us, saves us, and will take us to heaven someday. What a wonderful Christmas present! It will last forever and ever."

Throughout, the illustrations by Johanna van der Sterr are engaging, showing a modern family celebrating Christmas and setting up a nativity scene in their home.

What I Like: This is a simple way to explain why we give gifts at Christmas and why Jesus is the greatest gift ever given. I also appreciate the focus on giving something to Jesus, and the giving of heartfelt (not store bought) gifts.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but many toddlers will enjoy this book, too.

Publishing Info: Concordia, 2009; ISBN: 978-0758616630; hardback, $14.40

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