Book: Christmas in the Barn
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Anna Dewdney
Age Range: 3-8
Christmas in the Barn is a picture book featuring text written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1952 paired with new illustrations by Anna Dewdney (of Llama, Llama fame). This book debuted shortly after Anna Dewdney's death in September, lending a certain poignancy to its release. In any event, Christmas in the Barn is a perfect pairing of Margaret Wise Brown's rhythmic text and Dewdney's gentle illustrations.
Christmas in the Barn tells the story of the nativity, but with a strong focus on the animals in the barn, and the lightest possible touch on the religious aspects of the story. Like this:
"And there they were all safe and warm
All together in that ancient barn
When hail--the first wail of a newborn babe reached the night
Where one great star was burning bright
And shepherds with their sheep
Are come to watch him sleep."
While there's no overt naming of names (God, Jesus, etc.), Brown includes classic references like "Because there was no room at the inn" and "Away in a manger, no crib for his bed." Dewdney, while giving the animals distinct personalities, and often keeping the humans in shadow, gives the star pride of place, and casts a soft glow around the family as the shepherds arrive. The words and pictures are equally lovely and full of quiet joy.
There is just enough rhyme to encourage repeat read-alouds, but not so much as to be sing-songy, or to take away from the importance of the book's topic. Christmas in the Barn would be a perfect bedtime book to read on Christmas Eve. The text and illustrations are reverent, warm, and soothing. Highly recommended, and definitely going on our "keep" shelf.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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