two to celebrate the nativity

I’ve posted quite a few books for sharing the story of the nativity. You can find them in the Subject Index under Holidays — Christmas.

Here are two more I ran across this year:

our very own christmas cover imageOur Very Own Christmas, by Annette Langen, illustrated by Marije Tolman, translated by Nina Maria Wieser
first published in Switzerland; English version published in 2012 by NorthSouth Books

This one is a charming, affectionate story about a small girl named Kelly and her little brother Franklin who love acting out the story of Mary and Joseph and their long journey to Bethlehem.

The artless, childish conversation and authentic experience these two have makes this a story we can relate to in real, human terms. It’s simple and dear.

our very own christmas illustration3 marije tolman

As they keep being turned away from inn after inn, there’s an acute forlornness. “At that point Mary cries out desperately, ‘There is no room for us anywhere!’ And little Joseph exclaims with feeling, ‘Oh woe! Oh, woe!’ And it sounds very, very sad.

our very own christmas illustration2 marije tolman

Accompanying the fresh text are wonderful, naive illustrations, with wee figures set against expansive, snowy landscapes. These do double duty in illustrating the smallness of Kelly and Franklin in their world, as well as the obscurity and slightness of the real Mary and Joseph in the vast universe that night long ago.

our very own christmas illustration marije tolman

I really like this one, for ages 2 or 3 and up.

the story of christmas jane ray cover imageThe Story of Christmas, words from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, illustrations by Jane Ray
published in 1991 by Dutton Children’s Books

I can’t believe I haven’t come across this one before. I love Jane Ray’s illustration work. 

Using the King James Version of the New Testament, this narrative takes us from Gabriel’s visit to Mary, straight through to the Holy Family’s return from Egypt to Nazareth.

With her trademark jeweled color schemes and splashes of metallic gold, Ray’s illustrations seem to glow. I particularly love Mary with her handsome, olive complexion and midnight-black hair. Stunning.

the story of christmas illustration2 jane ray

I also love her strong, androgynous angels, with their gorgeous, artistic, fanciful robes. And the wise men! Epic robes for them as well.

the story of christmas illustration detail jane ray

Ah, there is so much beauty here, and a lovely sense of both miracle and the earthiness of a young mother giving birth to a loved child. Check it out if you can find it, for ages 4 and up.