cover image On That Christmas Night

On That Christmas Night

Lois Rock, illus. by Alison Jay. Lion (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7459-6588-8

Would the townsfolk of Nazareth whisper about Mary expecting a baby and her betrothed Joseph not being the father? Rock imagines the scenario briefly in her fresh and compelling retelling of the Nativity. (“ ‘Tut tut,’ and ‘Oh dear,’ they gossiped. ‘Whatever will the poor man do?’ ”), which nonetheless stays respectfully true to the events as described in the Bible. Rock’s plainspoken language and portrayal of the biblical characters as fully realized humans guided by their deep faith in God will appeal to a range of readers. Jay’s (The Twelve Days of Christmas) oil portraits—rendered with her stylized flair and bordered by images of flowers, vines, animals, angels, and stars—add a cozy, dreamlike element to the mix, especially in a scene that shows sheep streaming across rolling hill and angels crowding the evening sky as they converge on the manger. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)