Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Animals' Christmas

The title The Animals' Christmas may make you think of a Disney-fied, talking animals version of the biblical Christmas story, but in Elena Pasquali's new book, the title is a bit misleading. There are no talking animals - there isn't even a special emphasis on animals that might have been in the stable with baby Jesus. Instead, this is just a re-telling of the birth of Christ with more animals than usual seen in it's pages.

The book begins with an angel telling Mary she's going to have a baby. Marry giggles and says she's not married yet, so how can she have a baby. She is flustered at the angel's reply. When the conversation is over, a dove flutters in the air.

Next we learn Joseph, her fiance (who is petting a cat), isn't pleased with the news of Mary's pregnancy, but that an angel tells him in a dream to go ahead with the wedding and take care of the baby who "God will make...a king, such as the world has never seen." When he is ordered to Bethlehem by the Roman emperor, he takes Mary with him; they see wild and tame animals running about and end up staying in a stable.

That night, shepherds discuss their day (surrounded by bushes that have glowing eyes). "Then all at once, it seemed as if a spark flew up from the fire and lit the sky." Angels fill the sky, and all those eyes in the bushes come forward and expose themselves as wild animals. The angels announce that God's son is born and the shepherds head toward Bethlehem.

Now we see three men leaving Herod's castle. Talking amongst themselves as they mount their camels, they say Herod isn't pleased with news of a new king. They travel to Bethlehem as a lion roars in the night. The wise men are surprised to find the starlight leads them to a little barn, but they enter anyway, and offer Jesus their gifts.
"Mary and Joseph, shepherds and wise men: they all believed that the baby born in Bethlehem was a king, such as the world had never seen. he was the one who would establish a peaceable kingdom, where animals both wild and tame would live together."

The last page of the book quotes Isaiah 11, which predicts the peace the Christ will bring, even among animals. Throughout, Giuliano Ferri's illustrations are pleasing, though usually in dark, evening-like hues.

What I Like: Overall, I like this re-telling of the biblical Christmas story. Pasquali does a nice job of adding just a little to what the Bible says by way of speech, making the story fresh and appealing.

What I Dislike: Unfortunately, the author brings the wise men to the stable where Jesus is born, instead of to his toddler home. (See Matthew 2:11.)

Overall Rating: If you can overlook this error, I think you'll find the book Very Good.

Age Appeal: 4 to 8.

Publishing Info: Lion; 2012; ISBN: 978-0745963341; hardback, 32 pgs., $14.99.

Buy Now at Amazon for $12.89
OR buy at Christianbook.com for $11.99


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