So many Christmas books, but are they any good?

I’m about to head off on my Christmas travels, so thank you for reading this year. If my wish list is anything to go by, there should be plenty of new things to review in 2013! Here’s one last post for 2012 though.

Nativity stories

For one reason and another, the boys have amassed quite a collection of retellings of the Nativity story over the years, including several in books of Bible stories and so on. I’ll just look at the three self-contained Nativity books we’ve got though.

There’s the Little Fish one called Jesus is Born (1982), with text and illustrations by Gordon Stowell   – a slim and strangely disjointed little volume with some text quite chatty in tone and other bits straight from the Bible:

“Mary,” said Gabriel, “you are very special indeed. You have been chosen to have a baby who will be called Jesus.”

“Out on the hills shepherds were looking after their sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared to them and said, ‘Fear not! I bring you good tidings of great joy. Unto you is born this day a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.'”

Then there’s My Very First Nativity Story (Lion Children’s, 2009)It’s retold by Lois Rock and has pictures by Alex Ayliffe, an illustrator I rather like. This one adds quite a few jots and tittles to the story:

The flowers bobbed and curtsied as the angel Gabriel passed by. “Nazareth looks lovely in the spring, said Gabriel, “but I have work to do. I need to give Mary a message from God. I can see her over there.”

It also seems to go into rather a lot of detail on the paternity issue considering the target age group:

“I can’t be a mother,” she answered. “I’m not Joseph’s wife yet.”

Joseph soon heard the news about Mary. “She’s going to have a baby – but it’s not mine,” he wept.

This year’s offering was The Story of Christmas by Juliet David, illustrated by Steve Whitlow (Candle Books, 2011).  This is a board book and has the most straightforward text. There’s nothing too over the top in any direction, the language is age-appropriate and not too flowery. The pictures are awful though – really cutesy sweet.

So there’s no clear winner yet. I’d combine the text of The Story of Christmas with the illustrations from My Very First Nativity Story if I could, but I can’t. Does anybody know of anything better?

And with that, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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About forwardtranslations

I'm a freelance literary translator from German and French to English. The title of my blog comes from Mary Schmich's description of reading: it struck home with me, and seems especially apt for translated fiction. Here are some of my musings on what I'm reading, re-reading, reading to my children, and translating.
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3 Responses to So many Christmas books, but are they any good?

  1. Happy New Year! Hope you have a happy and successful 2013.

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