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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Voices of Christmas, written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Zonderkidz, 2009. $20.99 ages 4 and up

"Hush! The hour is late.
Nazareth lies sleeping,
and I wait for my Lord's signal
to once again go
to earth below.
When last I went, my words
were for Zechariah.
Now, I pace the halls of heaven
memorizing a message
for Mary."

As each new person speaks, readers are privy to the Christmas Story from a number of perspectives. The voices are clear, convincing and in keeping with the Bible's story of Jesus' birth. In double-page spreads meant to highlight one character of the nativity story, the author and illustrator use a Bible verse about that person and a detailed painting in oil of the one speaking. They manage to capture the mood, the character, and the personality of each. We meet Mary who wonders at the news she has received and believes it may be a dream. Then Joseph who mourns the forthcoming loss of his love Mary who now carries another's child, until a dream reassures him of Mary's place in the incredible story. Then Elizabeth, Zechariah, a neighbor, the innkeeper, the shepherd, Gaspar, Herod, Melchior, Simeon, Anna, Balthasar, and finally a poem for the reader!

A lovely book, accompanied by a CD with the story read by Nikki Grimes and Craig Northcutt and original music from Keith Ward. A fitting book for a Christmas collection.

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