cover image This Is the Star

This Is the Star

Joyce Dunbar. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200851-2

An exquisite rendition of the Nativity, this work really is the star, a sure standout amidst the season's picture books. Blythe's (The Whales' Song) awe-inspiring oils interpret in photo-realistic detail Mary and Joseph's difficult journey and the miraculous birth of Christ. The images include traditional scenes along with more startling compositions, such as a blinding-white angel appearing in the dark heavens and frightening the tiny mortal shepherds below. Maintaining an appropriate reverence, Dunbar transforms the Biblical story into a rhyming cumulative text. Her sophisticated vocabulary and phrasing guard against the singsong rhythm that so frequently governs cumulative verse: ""This is the gold and fragrant myrrh/ And frankincense, the gifts that were/ Placed by the manger warm with hay/ Wherein a newborn baby lay."" A volume to be treasured by the whole family. All ages. (Oct.)