Young Benjamin spends his first night out in the fields with his father, who watches over the family’s flock of sheep. A heavenly light descends upon the shepherds, and from here, the story dovetails with the familiar tale of the birth of Jesus. The shepherds, called to witness the event, seek out the manger in Bethlehem. When Benjamin sees the baby, he decides to give him his own patchwork blanket, which has given him so much comfort and security. He then leans over to tell the newborn about how the quilt “gives a hug.” The book ends with the hope that the love of that special baby will envelop readers, just as wrapping oneself in a quilt feels like an embrace. It’s a fitting analogy that effectively references the holiday’s religious basis without conveying overwrought Christian morals. This inventive take on Christ’s birth deals in the story’s broad strokes, as told from Benjamin’s perspective. After the heavenly hosts fill the fields with light, for example, the book’s straightforward prose shifts: Benjamin tells of his journey to Bethlehem with the muddled, mystified air of an eavesdropper, as he overhears adults discussing angels, a baby and something significant that he can’t quite understand. This hushed confusion, however, gives way to the simple joy of human connection when Benjamin offers his little finger for the baby to grasp. Readers, too, may undergo a similar revelation when Benjamin’s story turns out to be the story of another little boy altogether. Benjamin’s willingness to give his only possession to the baby echoes the biblical lesson about the birth of Christ and God’s gift of love to the world. Illustrator Bonham’s rich watercolors give the boy’s cherubic appearance a sense of innocence and warmth.
A subtle twist on the well-known story of Christmas.