A wide variety of animals from diverse environments feels the excitement of the impending event in Bethlehem, and many of them hurry along, crowding around the manger to welcome Baby Jesus.
The poetic text focuses on the mysterious, powerful forces that created a feeling of anticipation in the natural world at the time of the first Christmas. Animals, flowers, the wind, the skies and the sea all know that something miraculous is about to happen. The brief story effectively emphasizes the excitement of the animals and the involvement of all the natural forces in the important event. However, from a theological viewpoint, some of the text surrounding the birth of Jesus is beyond the developmental level of the intended audience. (“The One who made us has come to live with us!”) Large-format illustrations in Jay’s striking, signature style are presented in alternating formats across two-page spreads, in half circles, rectangles and ovals, effectively varying the presentation. Her paintings use a crackled overglaze that impart a folk-art look, along with slightly exaggerated proportions and flattened perspective.The emotion-filled text conveys the excitement and wonder of the Nativity story, but Jay’s stunning illustrations are the volume’s best feature. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)