Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tale With a Different Twist


Angela and the Baby Jesus
by Frank McCourt, with illustrations by Loren Long

Hi, blog friends! Sorry I have been a little incommunicado lately. Two reasons: 1) E. and I have been doing a lot of holiday baking in preparation for a Christmas Open House for our congregations, and 2) I am working my way through a pretty slow historical novel about the history of British/Afghan relationships and am just not covering the reading ground that I normally do. Anyway, we are winding up the cooking so hope to get back to my normal level.

We have a nice collection of children's Christmas books, to which I try to add periodically. It is cozy time to snuggle up with one (or both) of the boys on the couch, by the light of the Christmas tree, and read Christmas In the Manger or Who Is Coming to Our House?, not to mention 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. It's one of my favorite parts of the season. Have been hearing a lot this year about Angela and the Baby Jesus. You may remember Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes, which won a Pulitzer Prize about ten years ago.

This is a story that Frank McCourt's mother, Angela, told him about her childhood and that stuck with him. Angela is six years old when she gets concerned about the doll Baby Jesus lying in the manger at her Irish Catholic church. She is worried that the baby is cold and takes him home with her to warm him up. I won't say much more than that, except that the outcome is hilarious and touching at the same time. Watch Angela's older but slightly slow brother Pat emerge as an example of sacrificial love - that was the part that brought tears to my eyes.

If you like Christmas-themed children's books, this is one to take a look at. It makes us think about how literally children take the words of their church and the concepts communicated there. Fortunately, at the final outcome, Angela experiences the grace of church and family rather than the more damaging aspects that all too often win the day. The illustrations are adorable and the story is well told. A great gift to give a child OR an adult this season.

Reverent Reader

6 Comments:

At 12/17/07, 9:22 PM , Anonymous Pam said...

Girl -- my new favorite Christmas book is Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. Unhappy in his cramped, cold hole, Mortimer Mouse moves into a nativity scene thinking it is the perfect home for him, until he discovers who truly belongs there. Very cute and poignant. The kids in my class loved it -- especially because there are lots of nativity scenes in the room for them to play with.

 
At 12/17/07, 9:23 PM , Anonymous erin said...

I just saw this at the bookstore and read it and thought it was adorable. I didn't get it because I was making lots of other purchases but definitely intend to in the future!

 
At 12/18/07, 7:47 PM , Blogger LeAnn said...

I, too, ran across this at the bookstore recently and found it quite touching. It did not make it to the checkout this year... working on getting some of the old traditional stock built up for my 3 year old. But it is definitely on my list of things to get in the future!

 
At 12/19/07, 11:47 AM , Anonymous jbl said...

At your suggestion, I ordered it for B. I'm sure she'll love reading it to our young grandchildren. and me.

 
At 12/20/07, 10:32 AM , Anonymous KevinP said...

My Christmas story book suggestion is different but (perhaps suprisingly) does not detract at all from the warm-coziness we want and need at this time of year: Dave Barry's "The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter, the Christmas Miracle Dog." Especially good for kids (who think they are) too old for snuggling but who are also too young for the full-bore cynicism that often accompanies "X-mas Alternative" lit.

 
At 12/20/07, 1:20 PM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Thanks to all of you for weighing in on this - I will certainly follow up on the suggestions that some of you have made. There is no such thing as too many Christmas books, and nothing like snuggling up with a freshly bathed kid to read one!

 

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