cover image The Nativity

The Nativity

Julie Vivas. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $13.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200535-1

The words of the New Testament story of Jesus's birth are delivered with complete sobriety: Gabriel gives Mary the news that she will bear a child, she and Joseph go off to Bethlehem, shepherds and wealthy men pay homage to the child in the manger. But Gabriel wears unlaced, clumsy work boots and delivers his message over coffee or soup at Mary's kitchen table, and when there is no room at the inn, the rest of the town's visitors deck themselves out in a tree and snooze in stairwells. Vivas irreverently unravels the mystique of the famous birth, showing a bulgingly pregnant Mary and first glimpses of a child barely out of the womb. Also a part of this mad charm is an elegant mastery of form; wispy, glimmering watercolors show comic characters in the midst of grand events. Ages 4-8. (September)