Thanks to Zonderkidz, we have a few more good, recently published books to add to our collection. Jesus, God's Great Gift is the story of Jesus' birth. It is part of the I Can Read series, level 2. It begins with Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem. As a beginning reader, it leaves out some details, but it includes a lot, too. Much of the book was dedicated to the problem of finding a room (maybe a bit too much, in my opinion). Once they were all in the stable and content, Mary sits down and tells Joseph, "I'm going to have the baby." This just cracks me up because it sounds so casual...Like, "I'm going to have the cookie." However, the illustrator, Dennis G. Jones, definitely drew alarm on Mary and Joseph's faces that really made me smile.
The book continues and the angels come to the shepherds. I appreciate that these beings look heavenly, but without the typical angelic wings. Oh, and they are masculine! (Not that all angels need to be masculine, but I tire of the very beautiful, very feminine, winged angels.) Once again, good job Mr. Jones! The book progresses, and explains that Jesus grew up. The illustrations show a toddler. Then the wise men come visit him, bow down, praise Him, and give Jesus gifts to show how important He is.
The book ends with Jesus doing special things as a grown-up and saving us from our sins. Jesus, God's Special Gift is highly recommended, especially for young readers or even as a read aloud.
The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstain is a lovely book. It begins with some problems with the Christmas play. However, the real trouble begins when both Brother Bear and Sister Bear are selfish when it comes to Christmas giving. They are both given $10 to spend on a gift for the other sibling, but both only spend a few dollars on the gift...wanting the rest for themselves. Their parents do no interfere. The Christmas play went well with everyone doing what they should to tell the story of the birth of Jesus. When it was over, everyone was feeling the true spirit of Christmas. Brother and Sister opened their gifts Christmas morning happy and content, but thinking about the money left over from their shopping trip. Later that day, they both gave their leftover money to some bears collecting money in a big black pot for the needy. They all learned that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
This Living Lights Berenstain Bear book is solid and good. It is typical Berenstain Bear style and a great addition to anyone's Christmas collection.
The Three Wise Guys (Tales from the Back Pew) is written by the author of the Tales from the Black Lagoon series, Mike Thaler and illustrated by Jared Lee. This book is for older children (6-9), and would especially be loved by a wise guy that you might know. The book is told by a kid who is part of a Christmas pageant. He isn't particularly thrilled about this, but is willing. He is one of the Three Magpies who rents camels from Camelot. Obviously, this is not for a child just learning the story of Jesus' birth, but for one who understands it so that s/he can "get" the jokes in the book. It ended in a great way: But I really feel like a wise man, for every day I follow the star of Jesus, who is the light of the world.
The Three Wise Guys is a lighthearted read-possibly even a bit sarcastic at times-that is appropriate for older children, especially ones that like to be funny.
For those of you who spend much of Christmas on the road between different families' homes, you might like the book 17 Christmases. The family gets packing and wrapping and ready to go visit all their kinfolk weeks before the actual Christmas holiday. The rhyming text makes it a quick read, and a fun read aloud. Some states are mentioned by name, as well as some cities. Of course, everything does not go as planned. They leave Philly to go to New York City but- "We start driving east, but my mom hollers, "Wait! We can't forget Peg back in Washington State." So we backtrack a bit without any debate..." Eventually they make their way back home to Kentucky where the tree is dry and brown, the fruitcake is moldy, and the stockings are down. Joy is still found, since Jesus is there in that town. This is a funny book, but still reminds the reader of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. A definite added bonus is the map of the USA that is included inside the front and back covers. Though it doesn't have the states labeled, there are illustrations of the people they visited in each state. What a fun way to get in a geography lesson!
Reading the book makes me think that a family who could do have 17 Christmases would have to be a bit quirky, fun, and crazy...and that is what the book is like, too! This would be a fun addition to a Christmas book collection, especially for families who travel for Christmas!
Giveaway: If you read all of this post and know someone who would like my copy of The Three Wise Guys, leave a comment below. I will send one follower of this blog my copy...just leave a comment telling me why you want this book by Friday, December 10th. Make sure you are a follower and that I have a way to contact you!
Thank you, Zonderkids for review copies of these books.