Tag: christmas story

The Christmas Promise | Alison Mitchell

When I pulled our Christmas books out of the attic this year, I couldn’t help but notice a theme: our collection is heavy on stories about the first Christmas and noticeably light on stories about any Christmas that came after.

Advent Books | Little Book, Big Story

We have some notable exceptions (Great Joy; Saint Nicholas; An Early American Christmas), as well as the classics: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Snow Man, and Good King WenceslasWe even have the token Fancy Nancy Christmas book.

But every other book is set in a stable in Bethlehem.

The Christmas Promise, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

I don’t think this is a short-coming, not really, because what impresses me is how many ways that one story can be told. Some books tell it from the perspective of the animals in the stable (Who is Coming to Our House?, The Friendly Beasts); some books tell the story just the way it’s told in Scripture (The First Christmas).

Some tell it through the eyes of  Mary (Mary’s First Christmas; My Son, My Savior), or through the perspective of an imagined character (The Little Drummer Boy).

Others are by Sally Lloyd-Jones and are, therefore, wonderful (Little One, We Knew You’d Come; Song of the Stars).

The Christmas Promise, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

But The Christmas Promise begins not with the good news that Jesus has come, but with the news that he is coming: Alison Mitchell (beloved author of two of my favorite picture books) begins with God’s promise of a coming king—”a new king, a rescuing king, a forever king!”—and then goes on to show, through the telling of the nativity story, how Jesus is all of those things.

That big picture approach is one that we did not yet have in our collection, and it’s one that has endeared Mitchell’s other books me. The fact that it’s illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, illustrator of three of my favorite picture books, is a thick, delicious swirl of frosting on the cake.

The Christmas Promise, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

One more thing this book has going for it: The Christmas Promise falls under the heading of “Books I Will Read Any Time, For Any Reason, No Matter What Else Is Going On.” It’s short. It’s charming. It’s hard not to read with gusto. And I am reminded every time I read it of the ties connecting this season to the rest of Scripture, to our strange times now, and to the wonderful times that are coming.


The Christmas Promise
Alison Mitchell, Catalina Echeverri (2014)

Song of the Stars | Sally Lloyd-Jones

We take cake pretty seriously around here. And we take any excuse to bake cakes, especially when we find an excuse that looks like this:

Little Book, Big Story

This weekend, we’ll celebrate Phoebe’s first birthday with pancakes and snuggles and a gift bag full of tissue paper (what more could a baby ask for?). We’ll celebrate St. Lucia’s Day, too, and our twelfth anniversary. So you see, we could make as many as three cakes if we wanted to. But I think we’ll stick with just one:

Birthday Cake | Little Book, Big Story

And we’ll keep rolling along with Advent, and I will keep pulling books down from the attic every so often so we can read them anew. This week, I’ll unveil one of my very favorites: Song of the Starsby Sally Lloyd-Jones (a regularly featured author here at Little Book, Big Story).

Song of the Stars | Little Book, Big Story

I bought this book based on Lloyd-Jones’s name alone, and if I’m perfectly honest, I’ll admit that my first response went a little like this:

Opening pages: Is that snow? (Aren’t we in Israel?) Do I see deciduous trees?

Mid-book: Are those . . . whales? And stallions? (Where are the camels?)

Closing pages: Tears. Sniffles.

Song of the Stars | Little Book, Big Story

At first, I didn’t get it. In her illustrations, Alison Jay departs from the standard Christmas-book livestock of ox and ass and camel and takes readers around the world, showing how Christ’s coming wasn’t only a local event for Israelite animals but something that the whole world—every nook and cranny of creation—was preparing for. Somehow that wide-ranging perspective made for a striking contrast to the fact that all of this deep anticipation, felt by birds and beasts alike, was met in the coming of a baby—a seemingly ordinary baby who was overlooked by most of the people he had come to redeem.

Hence the tears and sniffles. The beauty of this book runs deep, so it will appeal—I’d hazard a guess—to all members of your family, regardless of age (and possible predisposition to cry over picture books). And if you’re anything like me, it will be one that you look forward to each season with, perhaps, an enthusiasm much like the one you feel for cake.


Song of the Stars
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Allison Jay (2011)