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Cooper, illustrator of several Coretta Scott King Award books, presents the Christmas story with an African-American cast. The most successful and appealing paintings feature baby Jesus: plump, sober, curly-haired, brown-eyed, and brown-skinned. Cooper’s Jesus is a very human child. The dust-jacket illustration, which shows the baby Jesus against white swaddling clothes and framed in a glittering gold-leaf border, is particularly impressive. Other paintings show a dark-skinned Mary, Joseph, and a variety of angels of varying hue. Most scenes at the stable with shepherds, wise men, angels, and the Holy Family, are predictable. There is little attention to historical accuracy or detail. The paintings were created, according to the blurb, through a technique, involving “a number of oil washes that are then subtracted from the painting surface” to create the final pictures. Paintings are placed against a creamy parchment paper and bordered in gold. The text is a previously unpublished poem by author Brown, which reads in part: “O come, / country shepherds / O follow the light / And welcome the baby / This blessed night.” The lettering in burnt sienna heightens the effect of a manuscript with a large initial letter. While the text and many of the illustrations are pedestrian, this will resonate with readers seeking a multi-ethnic version of the Christmas story. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0673-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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Younger audiences may be mostly interested in the bonking and stinky parts, but the rudiments are at least in place for...

Ten tales from the Old and New Testaments, with plot points and lessons hidden beneath large, shaped flaps.

Higgins depicts Jesus as a bit larger than those around him but otherwise draws him and the rest of the cast—including angels—with similar-looking round heads, wide-open eyes, slightly crooked beards (on the men), and dark brown or olive skin. Cycling arbitrarily among various tenses, the abbreviated, sanitized, and informally retold episodes begin in “a garden” with the tree, most of Adam and Eve, and the “tricky serpent” who “will trick them” initially hidden beneath die-cut flaps. Lifting the largest reveals the disobedient first couple sporting flashy animal-skin togs and text that promises that “God had a plan to save people from sin.” After Noah boards the “crowded, noisy, and stinky” ark, Moses leads the escape from plague-ridden Egypt (“Frogs and locusts! Yucky sores and flies!”), and “David bonks Goliath.” God’s promise eventually bears fruit with the birth and select miracles of Jesus. In the climactic scene, three distant crosses hide beneath a flap that depicts Jerusalem, while behind a tomb in the foreground an angel literally fizzes with fireworks. Beneath a bush readers see Mary (Magdalen) weeping until the risen Jesus (beneath another bush) gives her a hug: “Go tell the disciples that I am alive!”

Younger audiences may be mostly interested in the bonking and stinky parts, but the rudiments are at least in place for homiletic discussion. (Novelty/religion. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5064-4684-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in.

Rhyming text and colorful multicultural illustrations reassure young readers of God’s omnipresence and still small voice.

“Where in the world is God’s voice found?” Perhaps in ocean waves, bird song, or mountain vistas, suggest the couplet rhymes. Even when readers might be faced with difficult emotions and distractions of all kinds, the text reassures them that God is still there and still speaking, if only one pauses to listen. His voice can be found in nature, in starlight, in the love of family and friends, in dreams, and “through His Word.” Admirably, the bright illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century Disney artist Mary Blair’s stylings, depict children and families with a diverse array of skin tones and ages. There is also a refreshing mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Yet, despite the appealing illustrations, the rhymes and scansion are often forced (“your feelings, they matter, / even if they’re all mixed up like / pancake batter”), which detracts from the overall message. Contrived couplets notwithstanding, this title will likely find an audience among Christian households seeking reassuring bedtime reads.

Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65385-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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