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, 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.
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.“
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.
I really like this one, for ages 2 or 3 and up.
The 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.
I also love her strong, androgynous angels, with their gorgeous, artistic, fanciful robes. And the wise men! Epic robes for them as well.
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.
Hi Jill, We set out Jane Ray’s Christmas story every year on our piano! (Ours is in a collection that also includes the creation story and Noah’s ark. As we move closer to Christmas I turn the pages of these illustrations. It’s my favorite that we own. I’ve been looking all through your Christmas recommendations via your index. How are we going to share the treasure of all these wonderful book reviews (not just Christmas, but all your work!) with everyone who needs it?? Thank you! Happy Advent, Sara
One of our happiest traditions has been getting out the box of Christmas books each year! Thanks for your encouraging words, Sara. If you have any ideas for spreading the word, I’d love to hear them!