Stunning illustrations bring new life to a well-loved Christmas carol.
Using only the familiar carol’s lyrics as the text, the story of the Nativity is gorgeously brought to life. Mary and Joseph journey through the hills of Galilee on their way to Bethlehem. Hawthorne boldly paints the night sky black, against which a mosaic of colors stands out like stained glass. Importantly, and perhaps just as boldly, she depicts the Holy Family as dark-skinned. In a Middle Eastern style of portraiture that finds echoes in early Christian art, the geometric, quiltlike design in gouache evokes the serenity of the words. One can picture a family quietly singing this book aloud, allowing the eye to linger on images of twinkling stars, angels, pomegranate trees, and animals spilled across perfectly paced pages. The characters are portrayed with a variety of brown skin tones, but the darkest belong to Mary and Jesus. On the last spread, as the sky becomes a deep blue, the perspective pulls back to reveal the stable in the full hillside setting. With the moon and stars above, the words “Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace” bring the story to a close. The full text of the carol is provided at end along with information about its Austrian origins.
A standout among books to share on Christmas Eve. (Picture book. 3-7)