THE ANIMALS’ CHRISTMAS CAROL by Helen Ward

THE ANIMALS’ CHRISTMAS CAROL

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8

KIRKUS REVIEW

The wise men were not the only ones who gave gifts to the newborn Jesus. From the smallest bee, who gives beeswax to light the darkness, to the gentlest donkey, who carries Mary to Bethlehem, the creatures each use their own special qualities to protect, shelter, warm, and calm the precious baby. Ward’s (The Tin Forest, below, etc.) inspiration was the traditional French carol “The Friendly Beasts,” the words of which can be found on the final page. Though she keeps the familiar format and rhythm of the verses (“ ‘I,’ said the donkey, shaggy and brown”), she includes animals that are not typically associated with the Nativity. Lion, bear, and mongoose watch over the child, peacock’s bright tail guides travelers during the day, and woodworm ceases making holes in the stall where the baby lies. Oversized pages (11 x 11) allow Ward plenty of space to luxuriate in the glories of her art. The beautifully rendered animals seem capable of stepping off the pages—they have wonderful texture and emotional expression. The liberal use of metallic gold color adds an elegance and warmth to illustrations already rich in color. The two manger scenes where the beasts watch over the unseen child could almost be pages from an illuminated manuscript as they are filled with glowing light. The story is a gentle tribute to the animals’ role in the Nativity, and a reminder that even the smallest and lowliest have gifts to give that are fit for a king. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7613-2408-9
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Millbrook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2001




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