cover image A Song in Bethlehem

A Song in Bethlehem

Marni McGee, , illus. by Jason Cockcroft. . Knopf, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83447-9

This tender tale of a street urchin's wondrous encounter with the Holy Family hits all the right holiday notes. Naomi, a beggar girl eager to spy the royal visitors rumored to be in a nearby stable, rushes over only to find a sleeping woman and a baby—and some gold coins. She's caught stealing, but rather than meting out punishment, the man who apprehends her offers Naomi a meager meal and an invitation: “Come. There's someone I want you to see.” Naomi is entranced by the newborn, and before the family heads from the manger out into the night, she is astonished to receive from them a special gift, a wooden flute that she almost instantly knows how to play. Cockcroft's (Room for a Little One ) photo-realistic acrylics set a dreamy tone. Accents of nearly transparent flecks of paint create the effect of watching the drama unfold in a snow globe. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)