CM . . . . Volume XX Number 18 . . . . January 10, 2014
Everyone has special gifts and talents, and everyone makes mistakes. Simon, one of God's angels, displays both his foibles and his gifts in this lovely children's story that teaches children of the birth of Christ in a gentle, accessible way. Simon is getting in the way of the preparation of a nativity scene for a Christmas celebration. He despairs until the angel Elizabeth asks him what his special gift is. Simon loves to tell stories, and his re-telling of the nativity story passes the time while the angels finish the nativity scene, and all rejoice in the telling.
The story is told with enthusiasm, with exclamations throughout. Children will relate well to the story as they also make mistakes but have talents that need to be celebrated. Ray is careful to represent many cultures in the faces of the angels, and modern touches like angels high-fiving and taking "selfies" are added to make the story appear "present-day", something which is often rare in nativity stories. There is a sense of fun in the story, but children will still understand the story's importance in Christian life.
Lynn Ray both writes and illustrates this telling of the Christmas story, and her illustrations stand on their own as works of art. I particularly like the final full-page spread illustration of Simon and the nativity scene where everything comes together in the story, giving the reader a feeling of peace and reverence. Ray likes to intersperse playful little gray mice throughout the story, a feature which younger children will enjoy seeking out as they read or have the story read to them. An Angel's Christmas would make a perfect Christmas gift for those who celebrate the birth of Christ, and it would be a welcome story in primary schools, particularly at the kindergarten to Grade 2 level where simpler stories of Christmas are often hard to find.
Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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