This Nativity story, first published in Belgium and Holland, uses rhyming verse and innovative paper-collage illustrations to present the narrative of the birth of Jesus.
Leever’s art uses cut-paper elements layered in collages with a bright palette of jewel-toned papers. Intriguing details are provided by tiny snips of paper for Joseph’s beard, real straw in the stable, and curly strips of white paper for the sheep’s wool. Some of the papers have different textures, and other, three-dimensional elements add depth to several scenes. The proportions of the animals and their charming expressions are particularly noteworthy, and the faces of the human characters are also expressive and believable. The angel appearing to the shepherds, however, looks out of place in a little girl’s short, star-spangled dress, as the rest of the cast is dressed in long robes. The characters all have light skin except for one of the wise men, who has dark skin and a black beard. The rhyming text, translated without credit from the Dutch, has several issues. Some of the verses are just right, and others scan awkwardly, while the final spread has an unfortunate typo that mars the overall effect. And the text is actively at war with the pictures when the wise men are called “very old,” as they have smooth skin and no gray in their hair.
The book’s charming art is hampered by the inferior translation of the text. (Picture book. 3-6)