Monday, December 24, 2018

Review - A Night of Great Joy

A Night of Great Joy
by Mary Engelbreit
Date: 2016
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 34
Format: e-book
Source: library

Mary Engelbreit presents A Night of Great Joy, a delightful picture book that celebrates the joyful season of Christmas. This book tells the story of the nativity through the performance of a children’s Christmas pageant. With adorable illustrations and simple storytelling, Engelbreit paints a wonderful picture of the night that Jesus was born. A Night of Great Joy recalls that fateful night with wonder and awe. From the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem to the gathering of many before the baby Jesus, this holiday treasure leads children through the tale of the birth of Jesus, guiding them with the star of Bethlehem. Mary Engelbreit, New York Times bestselling illustrator of the blockbuster Christmas classic The Night Before Christmas, brings readers a new holiday picture book that’s sure to become a family favorite.

(see this book on Goodreads)

Finally, a Christmas picture book that I'd actually want to recommend! A Night of Great Joy tells the story of the Nativity, but in a way that's accessible for kids (including kids who might not be Christian themselves). The whole story is staged as a children's pageant, with an adorable group of diverse children taking on the roles of Mary, Joseph, and all the others.

The last book I read about the Nativity was based on the Gospel of Matthew, and I was a bit disturbed that someone thought that that version (with the baby slaughtering) was appropriate for a children's book. A Night of Great Joy, however, appears to be based on the Gospel of Luke. I should've listened to the quote at the very beginning when the angel said, "Do not be afraid." There's nothing to be afraid of in this version; King Herod doesn't even make an appearance.

I really liked how the premise of this one was a children's pageant. That allowed for some really cute touches in the illustrations: a couple of shepherds fighting over a toy sheep, an overly exuberant angel in the choir who seems to be annoying her peers, a little sheep having to lead a horse across the stage because his/her particular costume doesn't have any way to see out, and one of the wise men wearing sneakers. Joseph and Mary are a biracial couple (Joseph's a freckled redhead with glasses and Mary appears to be Hispanic) and Jesus is a rag doll. They arrive with Mary riding on their "donkey" (which is a little red wagon with a cardboard donkey's head attached).

Mary Engelbreit does a wonderful job of illustrating the story. Her pictures are always so colourful and cute. I really can't find much to complain about with regards to the aesthetic of this one.

All in all, this is a strong picture book about the religious story behind Christmas, and it's also one of the best Christmas picture books I've read this year. I would definitely recommend this one if you're looking for a story about the Nativity for younger readers.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 5/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.83 out of 5

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