________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 13 . . . . February 27, 1998

cover One Small Lost Sheep.

Claudia Mills. Illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop.
New York, NY: Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1997.
32 pp., hardcover, $21.50.
ISBN 0-374-35649-1.

Subject Headings:
Jesus Christ-Nativity-Fiction.

Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


When Benjamin awoke, the night seemed different somehow. The sky was oddly light, yet Benjamin sensed that dawn was still far away.

He rose and began to trudge back to his family. Maybe Kivsa had found her own way there by now.

When he finally reached the shepherds, one glance told him; No, Kivsa had not been returned.

"Benjamin!" His oldest brother, David, came running to meet him. "Did you see it?"

"Kivsa?" I couldn't find her."

"No, the stars! And the sky -- it opened up! And there were angels! Singing the most beautiful song."

Benjamin stared at his brother. He had never seen David so excited. Bewildered, he shook his head. "I fell asleep. I didn't see anything. I didn't hear anything."

"A whole chorus of angels, singing just to us! I can't believe you missed it." David said.

"Well, I did," Benjamin said crossly. It seemed so unfair -- to have lost Kivsa, and then to have slept through such a wonderment.

image On a starlit night, Benjamin, a little shepherd boy, searches in vain for his favourite lamb, Kivsa, which has strayed from the flock. Benjamin, who has raised Kivsa from her birth, is concerned for her safety, for, not only is Kivsa tiny, but she is also lame. After searching for a long time, Benjamin cries himself to sleep. When he awakes, the night seems different. Homeward he trudges, and, once there, his concern for Kivsa is ignored by his brother David who excitedly rants about a wondrous light he has seen - a whole chorus of angels singing just to the shepherds. As the shepherds head down the hillside, Benjamin is carried along by the crowd towards Bethlehem. He hears the bleating of a lamb, and, following the sound, finds Kivsa, surrounded by other animals, each one with its own particular handicap, in a broken-down stable. Containing his happiness at finding his beloved lamb, Benjamin notices the newborn baby lying in the manger and drops to his knees in prayer.

      With its simple vocabulary and short sentences, Mills's story of the Nativity gives readers a different perspective - that of a young shepherd boy. Mills captures the mood with tenderness and warmth.

      Krudop's illustrations match the text with their simplicity. Their warmth is mostly accomplished through the use of earth tones - sepia and ochre - and the magic and wonder of the first Christmas are achieved via contrasts of light and shadow which create a quiet, somewhat eerie mood.

      Writing about the Nativity through the eyes of a shepherd is not a new concept; however, this book succeeds primarily because of its implicit message that God loves all creatures, even those with imperfections.

      Purchase only if you need to boost your collection of Christmas stories.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, Manitoba.

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

Copyright © 1998 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