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Tomie's Little Christmas Pageant
by AnnaLovesBooks on April 3, 2009ISBN 0399239596 - On a board book reviewing streak, I was starting to get a little bored (no pun intended) with the story-less books that teach counting, shapes, colors, et al. This book came along at just the right moment AND turns out to be better than I'd expected.
The first page says the class is going to do a play about the first Christmas, the remainder of the book is written from the viewpoint of the narrator of that play. You know the story, Christian or not, so I'll keep it short: Mary and Joseph have a child in a manger, name him Jesus, the angels tell the shepherds and 3 kings follow a star, and for 2 thousand years or so we've been celebrating his birth.
This really is a nicely done book. It retells the story of the first Christmas, neglecting to go into the kinds of details (virgin birth, taxes, etc) that a child won't really understand anyway. It makes the story simple and straightforward and will make a great addition to any kids' library, particularly the library of young Christian readers. Jewish readers will find that the book doesn't conflict with their view of Jesus as a prophet and not the son of god, because that isn't mentioned.
In fact, that is something that you might view as either a negative or a non-factor, but is worth mentioning: the story of the birth of Jesus is nice but nowhere in the book does it say WHY anyone would celebrate his birth. It doesn't say much of anything about who this baby is, just that Christmas is his birthday. This can be used as a chance to explain your own beliefs about why we celebrate it, or it can be viewed as a gaping hole in the story.
Also, a small thing - on the first page, the book is written in the first person and says "I will tell the story". There is only one person in the illustration that appears to be "looking at" the reader. On the next page, it is a different person who is telling the story. On the hilarious side, the angels 2,000+ years ago sing "Joy to World" - written in the early 18th century, at least 1700 years later!
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