Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? by Laura Krauss Melmed. Illustrated by Jane Dyer.
When you think about the animals present at the nativity--the birth of Christ--I bet you don't think of lady bugs, bumble bees, tortoises, shrews, moles, and foxes, but in this imaginative retelling all of God's animals--well, some of the smaller and more neglected animals at least--gather together to worship the baby Jesus in their own unique ways. (Kittens purr, etc.)
Here's how it starts off,
A brand new star rose in the sky
And shone with all its might
To celebrate a baby's birth
One peaceful winter's night.
Three kittens sleeping in the straw,
All snug in downy fur,
Woke up to find the newborn boy,
And they began to purr.
A small bird nesting on a beam
Hopped down from up above,
And when the baby smiled at her,
Her heart filled up with love.
So out over the countryside
She soured on wings of joy,
Inviting friends from far and wide
To welcome the new boy.
"Hurry! Hurry! Have you heard?
A child was born tonight,
And every creature large or small
Is precious in his sight."
That should give you some idea on how this one will go. I have mixed feelings on this one in a way. There's something that seems a bit off about it. I think, for me, the problem is in the illustrations. The book doesn't feel like it is about the nativity. This is no first-century Bethlehem. This is a country-barn (with window panes) surrounded by fields of deep snow and pine trees and wooden fences. And the clothes that baby Jesus and Mary are wearing just don't feel right. (They don't look particularly Jewish either.) And it was odd that there was never once a mention of this being the baby Jesus and Mary. (Joseph wasn't in the book at all.) The animals are wearing clothes--the kittens are wearing mittens, the bird is wearing a scarf, the bunny is wearing a cap (as is the tortoise), the lambs are wearing bows, etc. And there's nothing wrong with that--plenty of children's books do it. And sometimes it works, other times it doesn't.
© Becky Laney of Young Readers