A poetic imagining of gifts from the Nativity animals to the newborn baby Jesus.
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). The frontmatter notes that they draw inspiration from “a 12th century Latin song, which became known in England as ‘The Animal Carol’ ”; within, the author imagines what the Nativity animals might have done to “prepare their stable for Christ’s birth.” She writes that an ox “drops straw into a manger bed.” Then “sheep tear loose bits of their wool / to make the bed feel soft and full.” Birds on the stable’s roof give feathers, which mice carry to the manger. A cow finds a blanket and adds it to the bed, too. Mary and Joseph appear with the baby, and the realistic-style illustrations depict the trio as olive-skinned with dark hair, and the shepherds have a similar appearance. The first angel to appear seems white, but the heavenly host singing in exaltation includes at least three angels of color (albeit ethereally washed-out). The book proper closes with shepherds and animals gathered around the Holy Family as they “all sing: ‘Glory to our newborn King!’ ” 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. (Picture book. 3-6)