cover image Brown Baby Jesus

Brown Baby Jesus

Dorena Williamson, illus. by Ronique Ellis. WaterBrook, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-23638-3

Williamson composes a story of faith across generations and locales, twining Jesus’s upbringing with pivotal biblical tales. The story begins not with the manger, but with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus having fled from Bethlehem to Egypt, where they hope to escape King Herod’s wrath. There, the family—portrayed with brown skin in Ellis’s slick, portrait-focused art—avoids soldiers and walks along the Nile, as Mary spins wool into yarn. Mary and Joseph also detail Bible stories that interweave like “colorful threads that make a beautiful cloth”: of Moses and the Israelites and Rahab and Jerusalem, among others. Across all the tales, the text posits, “God kept showing up for His people,” and “made His home with humankind when Jesus entered the world wrapped in the brown skin of a newborn baby.” Though the stories’ intersections may not be clear to those not already in the know, they successfully portray a many-stranded family tree for a much celebrated child, whose “wooly hair and bronze skin are a beautiful part of how God made You.” Ages 3–7. (Sept.)