Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Come, to the Nativity

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" (Luke 2:1-11, NIV)

Amidst our overflowing tables of holiday and wintry books, we have great books that focus on the nativity scene.  Please read on the celebration for one of the many reasons of the season.  For all you reluctant readers -- overly cautious on reading the birth of Christ -- please look closely.  Some are more involved with the traditional nativity scene than others.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski 
For those of you who know the nativity story in and out, try this one out.  You won't be disappointed. Thomas is seven and knows exactly how his nativity set looked -- the beloved set was lost in a recent move.  However, the best wood carver in town is always "mumbling and grumbling,muttering and sputtering, grumping and griping."  Will Thomas get his sheep that look happy? A cow that is proud? And, "'Jesus [...] smiling  and reaching up to his mother.'"?

This edition is also available in a gorgeous P.J. Lynch box set and includes a fabulous audio cd read by James Earl Jones. 

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
Frances is a very thoughtful child.  The organ grinder on the street, along with his monkey, are homeless in the bitter cold and snowfall. No else, except for young Frances, has thought to invite this man anywhere.  Newbery author, Kate DiCamillo, inspires readers to share a real spirit of the holidays -- compassion.  With this, along with the words and acrylic gouache paintings, Frances does indeed show how great Joy can light up a room and a life.

Nativity by Julie Vivas
Tattered clothes, a very pregnant lady, and angels in army boots?  I love, love, LOVE this version of Christ's coming.  The bright illustrations reflect an overflowing inn, Mary and Joseph as ordinary humans, angels as warriors on a mission -- not cute little things with fluffy wings -- and people full of curiosity.  Join the celebration in the birth of the Savior.  The text focus on Luke chapter 2, with no nonsense, even though the illustrations will bring many smiles and laughs. 

Charlie Brown Christmas Pop-Up NEW
The text remains faithful to the 30 minute short that plays every year on TV, or it might even be on DVD (perhaps VHS, too) in your very own living room.  Now, it's not quite the same effect, but it is a great pop-up to walk around with Charlie Brown again and hear Linus recalling what Christmas is about.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
"The first pageant rehearsal was usually about as much fun as a three-hour ride on the school bus, and just as noisy and crowded. This rehearsal, though, was different. Everybody shut up and settled down right away, for fear of missing something awful that the Herdmans might do."

The Herdmans are the bullies of all bullies!  So, what are they doing at the first Christmas pageant practice at the local church?  And, what will they do first? Beat everyone up before the performance, burn the church down, or steal from the offering plate again?  Even though this book focuses on an important holiday for Christians, it is in no way overly-religious.  I'll just say that it was first read to me out loud in second grade, at a very public elementary school.

Christmas is Here illustrated by Lauren Castillo NEW
A boy stops by an outdoor nativity, looking intently at baby Jesus.  Readers are soon sprung into the story of the shepherds hearing the message from the angels that Christ the Savior is born.  I really like this picturebook because it is not over taken by ridiculous extras or overt cuteness.  It is simply the text from Luke 2:8-14, taken from the New King James translation.  The illustrations work to mirror the text in a way that focuses your attention on what is really happening.

A Christmas Manger by H.A. Rey 
Remember staring at the nativity scene when you were a kid?  Waiting for your parents to leave the room so you could play with the "it's just for looking" toy?  Here's one to play with!  This punch-out paper set includes everything you need to recreate the Christmas miracle.  The paper is very durable, so it is perfect to use year after year, or to use as an inexpensive nativity scene for little hands -- more experienced ones, too!

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