Monday, December 3, 2007

A Song in Bethlehem, Overview

The second Christmas-themed book I'm reviewing this week takes us all the way back to the birth of Christ.
A Song in Bethlehem

Fast Facts:
Author:Marni McGee
Illustrator:Jason Cockcroft
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 11, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0375834478
ISBN-13: 978-0375834479


“Three men,” whispered Marta the Beggar. “As rich as kings, they were—in their turbans and fur-lined robes. Gold was on their fingers. Rubies hung ‘round their necks. Yet I saw them, with my own eyes, in a stable.” Upon hearing this, Naomi, a beggar girl, sets upon her journey to find these three wise men. While Naomi doesn’t find the three wise men, she does encounter a man, a woman, and newborn baby in a stable, and by the end of this magical night, Naomi receives a gift from the child that ensures she will never be hungry again.

While there are many children’s books out there that tell the Christmas story, A Song in Bethlehemtells it from a new perspective and gives us insight into what life was like in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. A short and simple, yet inspiring story, it teaches the importance of honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and faith.

In addition, Jason Cockcroft’s illustrations are stunning. I could feel the chill in the air and see the sadness, awe, and finally happiness on Naomi’s face as she progressed through the night. With details from the animals in the stable to the cookware by the campfire, I found myself being transformed back to Bethlehem as if I were a bystander in the stable witnessing the interaction.

I have to confess that when I first picked up this book, I was expecting it to be just another retelling of the Christmas story, but I was pleasantly surprised when I finished it and found it to be much more. This would make an excellent addition to any child’s bookshelf and would be sure to spark many questions and conversations about the life lessons it teaches.

Check back in tomorrow to get some reading tips and learning activities.

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