Elegant, simple text and luminous art make this picture book an almost hymn-like meditation on the meaning of Christmas and the Nativity story.
See this small gray donkey,
this long, dusty road,
this promising star.
See this man, Joseph,
this woman, Mary.
Feel the frost on
this clear Bethlehem night.
Laura Godwin is the author of many books for children, including the Doll People series with Ann M. Martin. She lives and works in New York City. While she has collaborated with William Low as his editor on many children's books,This First Christmas Nightis their first project together.
William Low is the author and illustrator ofDaytime Nighttime,Machines Go to Work, and theNew York Times Best Illustrated BookOld Penn Station. He has illustrated numerous other books for children, includingFeathered Dinosaursby Brenda Z. Guiberson. He teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
“See this small gray donkey, this long dusty road, this promising star,” the story begins, as Joseph guides Mary on toward Bethlehem. The spare poetry of this book lovingly captures details of Christ’s birth, like the smell of hay, the sounds of the animals inside the manger, and Mary’s contented sigh as she holds her son in her arms. Then time stands still as viewers see the large, sweet face of “this tiny baby boy” being adored by visitors in the silence. As the picture pans outonto the rural landscape of the first Christmas night, the scene conveys an overarching sense of peace. Low’s gorgeous use of dark colors serves to highlight the luminous glow of the angels, stars, and baby Jesus, setting the ideal mood for this lyrical meditation on the Christmas story.Wonderful for bedtime and lapsit storytimes, this book is a gentle retelling of the Nativity for very young readers who are learning about Jesus for the first time.--School Library Journal
"From the opening page, Godwin directly addresses readers, beckoning them to witness the sights and sounds of the first Christmas through their senses. “See this small gray donkey,/ this long, dusty road,/ this promising star,” she begins, and a quiet urgency builds with successive phrases (“Feel the frost on this clear Bethlehem night/ See this inn with no room”) until the final spreads reveal the miracle: “Welcome this tiny baby boy./ Feel this hush./ This peace on Earth./ This first Christmas night.” An inky sky serves as the backdrop for Low’s commanding digital paintings, brightened only by the stars far above and a chorus of angels who appear in the final pages, showing the family with golden light.It’s a lyrical and understated account of the Nativity that will leave readers feeling as though they are witnessing something momentous."--Publishers Weekly
"Godwin’s direct-address text pulls listeners into this super-simple yet lyrical retelling
of the Nativity story: “See this small gray donkey, / this long, dusty road, / this
promising star…Hear these angels singing. / Welcome this tiny baby boy.” Illustrations
perfectly match the text, evoking the humble setting yet also reinforcing
the sense of reverence and import. T
his is a moving and memorable Christmas story."--The Horn Book
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