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THE BIRDS OF BETHLEHEM by Tomie dePaola

THE BIRDS OF BETHLEHEM

By Tomie dePaola (Author) , Tomie dePaola (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-25780-3
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

A quiet, simple story told by pairs of birds who witness the Nativity scene in Bethlehem.

In turn, each pair of birds comments to others in the flock about something unusual observed in the town. The green birds saw a long line of people, the yellow birds saw that the inn was full, and the blue birds saw a man and his wife being led to the stable outside the inn. Other birds see and hear an angel announcing the birth of a special baby, and still others hear angels singing. Finally, all the birds fly into the stable and see “a young mother, her husband and their newborn baby,” though there is no explanation of their significance. The subdued text fails to convey much emotion or excitement, despite the fact that the birds refer to the appearance of the angels as “extraordinary” and “spectacular.” DePaola’s simplified, folk-art–inspired style is well-suited to the stylized birds, but the announcing angel has a grim face, and the heavenly hosts are downright spooky, like flying aliens.

Many other Nativity stories, such as Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? by Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrated by Jane Dyer (2008), more effectively convey the excitement of animal characters journeying to the stable. (Picture book/religion. 3-7)