A retelling of the Christmas story that teaches respect for animals.
Offering a new perspective on the legendary stable scene, Nye's tale emphasizes the holiness of the animals that were present at the birth of Jesus. In the old days, the story begins, people used animals instead of machinery, and cared lovingly for beasts because of their importance to humanity. One night, a donkey, a cow, and an ox witness the birth of Jesus in their stable, offering the child their manger and Sabbath hay. During that dreamlike night, they speak of the gifts they will bestow on the baby: milk, protection, and strength to carry the cross. The animals' old shepherd, half-asleep in the stable, marvels at his beasts' speech and wisdom. Over the years, the shepherd becomes the protector of animals, praising their compassionate, gentle natures, and proclaiming their holiness–and condemning those who would abuse them. Shortly before he dies, the shepherd receives a visit from an angel, who emphasizes the importance and values of these animals. They were blessed with particular powers, the angel explains, and humans who mistreat them will not be able to use their strength. Oddly, the angel seems to imply that only those animals present at the Nativity are due such respect.
Light-infused paintings illustrate this tale with affection, and their peaceful simplicity provides a needed counterpoint to the story’s wordiness and abrupt ending. (Picture book. 6-9)