cover image On Angel Wings

On Angel Wings

Michael Morpurgo, , illus. by Quentin Blake. . Candlewick, $8.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3466-7

The truth is that once we weren't children anymore, we never did believe Grandpa's story, not really—as much as we might have wanted to.... We still loved listening to it, though. Christmas nights would never have been the same without it.” Voiced by an indulgent but typically skeptical youth, these opening lines frame a captivating retelling of the Nativity as experienced by the youngest shepherd, whose father and uncles have left him behind to look after the flock as they follow the star to Bethlehem. When the angel Gabriel overhears the boy's lamenting the unfairness of it all, he drops in to make things “a little fairer” and whisk the boy to the manger and back, “lickety-split.” Morpurgo's tone blends reverence with wit, a combination matched in Blake's pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoons of heavenly choruses, zooming angels and the boy shepherd holding an infant Jesus (he “hopes against hope that [the baby] wouldn't cry”). The six-inch-square trim size spells gift book; would-be givers should note the religious nature of the ending. All ages. (Oct.)