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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nativity by Newbery Medal author and illustrator Cynthia Rylant (Missing May) adapts the story of Jesus' birth from the King James Bible. She then seamlessly skips ahead to Jesus as an adult, quoting from his Sermon on the Mount and four of what are known as the beatitudes, beginning with "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The smooth transition links the miraculous birth story to Jesus' message. That and Rylant's appealing folk art paintings make this a distinctive and meaningful holiday offering.
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What's the Story?
Starting with the shepherds being visited by an angel and then finding Mary, Joseph, and their baby in a manger, Cynthia Rylant tells the story of Jesus' NATIVITY. Then she quickly moves the story up in time: "When the babe, who was called Jesus, became a man, he stood one day on a mountain before a great multitude of people." And she quotes four of what are known as the beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, finishing her book with: "Blessed are the pure in heart ... for they shall see God."
Is It Any Good?
This kid-friendly religious book uses spare text and inviting, childlike acrylic paintings to tell a pared-down version of Jesus' birth story (shepherds, but no kings or inn keepers). But what really distinguishes Nativity from other Christmas books is shifting the focus in the second half to Jesus' message by portraying and quoting from the Sermon on the Mount. Author-illustrator Cynthia Rylant quotes four of the eight beatitudes -- not too many for young kids to grasp -- using the last to end on a hopeful note about seeing God.
Rylant's simple wintry scenes will draw kids in. Some look like ancient Bethlehem. Others, like the spread on which a person leaning up against a five-story building faces a snowy page with the words "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," remind us of the homeless and destitute in our cities today.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the folk art style in Nativity. Do the illustrations remind you of finger painting?
Some books about Jesus being born use fancy art and lots of words. What's different about this version of the story?
What parts of the story do you know from Christmas carols?
- Author: Cynthia Rylant
- Illustrator: Cynthia Rylant
- Genre: Holiday
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Holidays
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Beach Lane Books
- Publication date: September 19, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: October 18, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
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Evocative new art enlivens poetic telling of Nativity story.
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For kids who love Christmas stories
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