Christmas Is Here: Words From the King James Bible,
illustrated by Lauren Castillo
(2010, Simon & Schuster)
A simple book with panoramic views and brief but meaningful text, this book is a perfect one to share with young children at Christmastime.
The book opens with full-spread illustrations showing a young family leaving their house to go for a walk together, and they see a sign announcing a live nativity. They approach the street corner creche and the older child peeps into the manger at the baby, but the next page opens with a scene of grazing sheep and the lines from Luke chapter two, verse eight from the King James Version of the Bible: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” The middle of the book features more of the Luke narration with illustrations of the shepherds and the angels and the trip of the shepherds into Bethlehem to see Jesus, and the final view of the shepherds at the stable from a distance is followed by a similar scene of the modern family and a crowd gathered around the live nativity again. As the next illustration shows a closer view of the scene, the Biblical text ends with the last line of the angels’ praise: “and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The last page shows a close-up of the smiling family surrounded by the father’s arms.
I really love this simple book for a number of reasons. One is that it shows a modern family doing something a family who reads the book could feasibly do with their young children: go to see a live nativity together. Another thing that I like about this book is the artwork. From page to page, the perspective changes–from up close and personal with the child peering into the manger to landscape scenes of the fields outside Bethlehem, and the hue and tone of the colors in different illustrations help set the mood for the story as well. The partial excerpt from Luke 2: 8-14 in the King James Version not only acquaints readers with an accurate version of the Christmas story, but I have personal nostalgia for the Luke 2 narrative because my brother, sister, and I memorized a longer section of that passage when I was about six, and I have been pondering having GirlChild learn it soon as well; this book and this short excerpt might be a good place to start! (My family also always reads the Luke 2 narrative on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning before opening any gifts, although we often use the NIV that we use for regular Bible reading or the full text of the KJV of Luke 2:1-16 at the end of Patricia A. Pingry’s The Christmas Story retelling.) I love the feeling that the family in this story has zoomed into the past and is experiencing the birth of the Christ child for themselves as they let themselves be surrounded by the spoken words at the live nativity and how this brings them together in a loving embrace as they become aware once again of their true surroundings.
GirlChild and BoyChild’s Reactions: Okay, so we tried reading this in the children’s department of a library where we don’t have borrowing privileges, so GirlChild was majorly distracted by their awesome Christmas tree and winter decorations, so she couldn’t focus long. However, when she saw the child peeking into the manger, she exclaimed, “It’s a real baby!” and was pretty excited. I’d love to take her to see a live nativity this year. BoyChild kept yelling, “Baa! Baa! Baaaaa!” on all the pages (and there are many!) featuring sheep. I really think this one will end up in my Amazon cart before the end of the week!
(see my review from last year)