Hopkins, the noted poet and anthologizer of children’s poetry, offers an original free-verse poem, a Christmas Eve musing about her newborn son in Mary’s first-person voice.
Mary looks back at the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told her of her forthcoming child, and at her journey on the donkey into Bethlehem. The noise and hubbub from visitors began with the shepherds and continued with the animals in the stable, leaving Mary longing for quiet time with her baby. She rocks the child, hums a special song and wonders what will become of him. Striking illustrations in mixed media on ivory backgrounds show the lines of oil pastels and pencils, with watercolor shading. The overall effect is muted, ethereal and filled with golden light that suggests the mysterious power of the event. The book’s huge trim size and use of double-page spreads allow the art to shine, and the generous size will ensure that even larger groups will be able to see. Though both the text and illustrations are notable, the mother’s perspective may be of more interest to older children and adults than to the traditional picture-book audience.
A lyrical, unusual viewpoint for the Nativity story, seamlessly matched with gorgeous illustrations that are unlike other interpretations of the Christ Child’s birth. (Picture book/religion. 5 & up)