’Twas the Evening of Christmas

Glenys Nellist, illus. by Elena Selivanova. Zonderkidz, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-310-74553-2
In a skillfully composed text that mimics the phrasing and cadence of Clement C. Moore’s familiar holiday poem, Nellist presents a Nativity story that balances a lighthearted, anticipatory tone with an overarching reverence for the subject matter. “ ’Twas the evening of Christmas, when all through the town,/Every inn was so crowded, no room could be found,” she begins, incorporating the animals of the stable, the nearby shepherds, and the visiting Magi into her retelling (“The pigeons were nestled all snug in their beds,/ While visions of breadcrumbs danced ’round in their heads”). Russian illustrator Selivanova’s evocative paintings feature soft lines and gentle shifts between sunlight, moonglow, starlight, and shadow—as well as light that seems to emanate from the newborn child. Her gauzy, muted palette and shifting perspectives (in one scene, the shepherds are seen from above, through clusters of angels’ wings) fully immerse readers in the unfolding events. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
Genre: Children's
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