It's finally here! Our series on 12 Days of Christmas Picture Books resumes for 2012. We've been looking forward to reading holiday books all year, and we're especially excited about some of the finds we've got this time around. I hope you'll join us for each of our daily picks. And don't forget, you can leave us a comment here on the blog or connect via Facebook or Twitter to share your favorite Christmas titles with us.
And so, on to our first Christmas title! Today's pick is one of the most vibrant and visually stunning books you're liable to find on a holiday shelf. Who Built the Stable? by author/illustrator Ashley Bryan is a fresh and accessible look at the nativity story, with a multicultural slant. In Bryan's version, a young shepherd boy builds a stable to shelter his livestock. When Joseph and Mary aren't able to find room at the inn, the boy offers up his stable as a place for them to stay. And so it is that when the babe is born, the shepherd's own manger cradles the child on that first Christmas morning.
Bryan's bio indicates he first began thinking about the title question when he was visiting Africa, and that inspiration shines through in his gorgeous paintings. Every page bursts with life, and the more you look the more there is to see -- multicolor stars twinkling in a swirling sky, mud huts peeking out from a hilltop. The animals are more than background filler here, just as colorful as everything else in Bryan's landscape. And as with all his books, Bryan's text is stellar here too, a thought-provoking piece of poetry that even the youngest children will appreciate.
This vivid take on the nativity is one that begs to be read and re-read, a perfect frame for holiday conversations. Whether you're looking for a new title to share with your own kids or a gift idea for someone on your list, Who Built the Stable? is a memorable addition to the Christmas story canon.
Who Built the Stable? by Ashley Bryan, published by Simon & Schuster
Sample: "The little shepherd sheltered them. / For one night he saw a star, / And -- Lo! -- it grew in brightness, / Approaching from afar."