Parents' Guide to

Christmas in the Barn

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Evocative new art enlivens poetic telling of Nativity story.

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Evocative new art enlivens this reissue of the rhythmic, poetic telling of the Nativity story by masterful children's book author Margaret Wise Brown. In Christmas in the Barn, Brown uses her full arsenal of kids' book know-how to tell the story of the birth in the manger, mesmerizing readers with rhyme and repetition. She also adds to the classic feel by seamlessly weaving in fragments of lyrics kids will recognize from well-known Christmas carols, for instance, "Away in a manger, no crib for his bed." The story talks about, but does not name, the human characters -- Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the Wise Men -- and draws in young readers by emphasizing all the animals present at the crèche scene.

The art, by another beloved children's book creator, Anna Dewdney, is rendered in oil paint that evokes the dusty desert landscape in which the babe was born. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are pictured with somewhat darker skin, though one might wish they looked more clearly and consistently Middle Eastern. All in all, a lovely introduction to the classic Nativity story for young readers.

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