cover image Christmas in the Barn

Christmas in the Barn

Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Anna Dewdney. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-237986-3

A rough-hewn barn of stone and wood, nestled in a field dotted with sheep and palm trees, sets the scene for this newly illustrated version of Brown’s cozy 1952 story of Jesus’s birth. The late Dewdney’s canvas-textured, mixed-media artwork is well-matched to Brown’s spare, rhyming text, which incorporates phrases from hymns and the Bible (“Away in a manger, no crib for his bed”; “Because there was no room in the inn”) as it introduces a cast of animal onlookers (“The little mice rustled in the sweet dry grass/ Near the lambs and the kine and the ox and the ass”). The rugged landscape and lantern-lit barn are depicted at sunset, night, and daybreak from a variety of perspectives, the warm palette and forceful brushstrokes conveying the story’s hushed refrain: “And there they were all safe and warm/ All together in that ancient barn.” Ages 4–8. (Sept.)