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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Star Bright: A Christmas Story, written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster. 2014. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"What about ...

Music to make
the baby laugh.

Music to sing
the baby to sleep.

But music was the
gift of the songbirds."

The Herald's headline says it all ...GOOD NEWS: Prince of Peace on His Way. For the newest angel, the celebratory story is exciting, but disconcerting as well. The angels all know about the baby, the date of its arrival and the joy it will bring. The littlest one is concerned that she might not choose the gift that is exactly right for the beautiful baby.

Her thoughts about it are front of mind. She has a number of ideas. They all seem meant for someone else to give. As preparations are made in heaven and on earth, she carefully watches. She is so small; the world is so big!

"All that darkness made her feel even smaller.
And a little lonely.
Babies were so small....
Would the baby feel lonely too?"

When three travelers come into sight, with gifts in hand and a map to follow, she knows exactly how to help these lost souls find their way. With great certainty, she jumps, tumbles, and falls down from the heavens:

"Until she came to rest exactly
where she was needed."

Thanks to that little angel, the wise men and other visitors know the exact spot to find the baby and his family on a dark December night!

The story itself is lovely, accompanied by Peter Reynolds' winsome pen, ink and watercolor images. The details used to give personality to the angel, the warm pillowy backgrounds, the earnest expressions, the star over Bethlehem that brings light to a dark and lonely world are sure to invite conversation, and awe at a little one who works so hard to find the perfect gift.

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