________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 7. . . .October 16, 2009

cover

Under the Star: A Christmas Counting Story.

Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2009.
24 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55470-201-5.

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Subject Headings:
Christmas stories-American.
Counting-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4

   

excerpt:

Under the star, under the star,
One angel sees a manger afar.

Under the star, under the star,
Two shepherds see a manger afar.

 

internal artYolen provides another simple, but effective, take on the Nativity story via the medium of a counting book in which, after an opening angel, an increasing number of animals and people make their way across the dunes of the nighttime desert as they are being guided by a star that shines above a distant manger. As the excerpt reveals, the poetic text has a repetitive pattern, one which young listeners will quickly recognize and, guided by the illustrations, they will likely participate in saying as the book is being read aloud. The only place where Yolen's text varies is on the book's closing double page spread where it reads:

They all crowd in heedless of danger,
To see the star shine in the manger.

internal art     Vlasta van Kampen's illustrations are most appropriate for a counting book directed at very young pre-readers. Each of the first ten double page spreads has the appropriate number of human figures or animals that are generally laid out in a fashion which facilitates a youngster's being able to count them to confirm that they agree in number with the text. The delightful surprise is the eleventh and final spread which contains the total number of critters and people, plus a baby in a "cradle" and two additional adults. Patient children who like a challenge will pore over this closing spread to make certain that van Kampen hasn't missed any of the 55 "things" that the ilustration is supposed to contain.

     Other than the book's subtitle, nothing in the text or illustrations identifies the book as being "Christian" in content, and consequently readers/listeners who are not already familiar with the Nativity story could simply see it as a counting book.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM's editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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