The Gifts of the Animals – A Christmas Tale

Loosely based on a 12th century Latin song, this story imagines how the animals in the celebrated Bethlehem stable might have made way for Jesus’s birth. In realistic illustrations, each docile beast offers its own preparation in turn: “The ox that stands in the drafty shed/ drops straw into a manger bed”; “The sheep tear loose bits of their wool/ to make the bed feel soft and full.” A tired Mary and Joseph are welcomed in, and Christ is born before being set in the animals’ carefully prepared trough. . . Gerber’s gentle rhyme flows seamlessly, while Shimokawara’s softly hued art sets a peaceful, sleepy scene. . . . A sweetly wrought spin on the traditional Nativity story. Publishers Weekly, October 7, 2019

Gerber’s lilting rhymes reinterpret biblical text from the book of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1-16 in the King James Version (reproduced in the back of the book). Within, the author imagines what the Nativity animals might have done to “prepare their stable for Christ’s birth.” . . .  Shimokawara glories in textures, making the whorls in the animals’ fur and the folds in human characters’ robes seem touchable. A handsome, imaginative volume for Christmas bookshelves. Kirkus Reviews, August 18, 2019

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