Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mary's First Christmas

Mary’s First Christmas, written by award-winning author Walter Wangerin Jr., tells the story of the Nativity from Mary’s perspective using the first person point of view. In the story, Mary is talking to her five-year-old son Jesus. Jesus has a gash in his forehead caused by a stone thrown at him. As Mary tends to the wound, she begins telling the story of his life.

The book is divided into four chapters. Each chapter relates a different part of the story. In chapter one, Mary doesn’t start her story with that blessed night in Bethlehem; instead, she begins her story with her encounter with the angel nine months before Jesus’ birth. The angel tells her she will have a son and she will call him Jesus. Mary tells Jesus how excited she was to receive such wonderful news.

Chapter two begins with her telling Joseph the news. At first, Joseph is very angry because he thinks Mary has been with another man. Then an angel visits him and tells him he is to wed Mary and raise the child as his own.

Chapter three is the story of Jesus’ actual birth. Mary tells Jesus how she and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and couldn’t find a place to spend the night. They were forced to bed down in a stable with the animals and that’s where Jesus was born.

In chapter four, Mary tells Jesus about the three wise men who came to visit when Jesus was nearly two months old. The wise men warned Mary and Joseph that King Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so the family fled to Egypt to keep him safe. After King Herod died, the family went back to Nazareth where Jesus grew up. Mary tells him he will face a life of sorrow and hardship but that he would be “the one to heal the dangers and hatred and sin of the world.”

The language of the text is poetic and lyrical. Here’s a sample, taken from chapter three: “On the night you were born the whole sky exploded with love, and the angels shouted, and more than a thousand thousand hearts were in love with my baby Jesus on his birthday!” The colorful, vivid and incredibly life-like illustrations, by Timothy Ladwig, are a feast for the eyes and the text is music to the ears.

What I Like: Everything, especially the way the story is told. This is the only children’s picture book about Jesus’ birth that I know of that has Mary telling Jesus about his birth. Every child can relate to this as they love to hear stories about themselves.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: The publisher suggests ages 4-8 as the target audience for this book, but I believe this book would have much wider appeal than that, at least 4-10, maybe more. I know I enjoyed the book!

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 1998; ISBN: 9780310222163; Hardcover: $19.99.

Buy now at ChristianBook $14.99!
Or buy at $16.99.
Special Info: Visit the author’s website. Visit the illustrator’s website. Read our reviews of other books illustrated by Timothy Ladwig.

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