Tag: nativity

Little One, We Knew You’d Come | Sally Lloyd-Jones

We bought this book years ago, when Lydia was in the tornado stage—flinging books off the shelves at random, emptying baskets of toys on the floor—and The Jesus Storybook Bible was not an old friend, broken in by years, but a new acquaintance we couldn’t get enough of. I ordered Little One, We Knew You’d Come because it, too, was by Sally Lloyd-Jones.

Little One, We Knew You'd Come, by Sally Lloyd-Jones (review) | Little Book, Big Story

But (I’m embarrassed to admit this) I didn’t immediately love it.

The illustrations are of a style that, though beautiful, didn’t appeal to me at first. And the text, though beautifully written, never mentioned Jesus’ name. I remember thinking, Wait. This could be about any longed-for baby. It doesn’t have to be about the coming of Christ. I had that uncomfortable sense that I was missing something.

Little One, We Knew You'd Come, by Sally Lloyd-Jones (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Years passed and three more of our babies reached the book-flinging stage (Josie is firmly entrenched in it now). We have read this book to every child every year, and it has borne those repeated readings with grace. The gentle and quiet illustrations have grown on me; Lloyd-Jones’ poetic words have, too. And I have grown to love the way it doesn’t mention Jesus’ name, because while so many Christmas books illustrate his coming through the eyes of creation awaiting a Savior or Israel waiting on a king, this one lets us see his coming through the eyes of Mary and Joseph, who await not just God’s Son, but their son. He is their Redeemer, and he is the baby they have waited nine months to meet.

Little One, We Knew You'd Come, by Sally Lloyd-Jones (review) | Little Book, Big Story

I get it now. And it is lovely.

Also

Merry Christmas! I am so thankful for you all and pray that this season is filled with that deep-seated wonder—the one that comes not from the “childhood magic” of Santa, but from the true magic of a God who took on humble, helpless infancy for our sake. He is the One who took the shadow of the Law and gave it substance, the One who ripped the curtain so that God might, when all is ready, dwell among us. May the joy of this carry you through many long evenings in the kitchen, many unanticipated needs, and many overtired toddler meltdowns. May he sustain you and give you strength, and may he give you peace.


Little One, We Knew You’d Come
Sally Lloyd-Jones; Jackie Morris (2006)

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)

The Stable Where Jesus was Born | Rhonda Growler Greene

In all the holiday brouhaha, it’s sometimes tempting to skip over the season’s simple, obvious joys. The Stable Where Jesus Was Born is one of those obvious joys. Beautifully illustrated by Susan Gaber, it tells the story of Jesus’s birth in rhymed couplets: “This is the stable where Jesus was born . . . “.

Each couplet zooms out from an intimate scene in the stable until finally, the heavens are involved and the whole earth, and then the arc begins to fall back to that stable, where two new parents hold the earth’s greatest joy, surrounded by humble animals.

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born | Little Book, Big Story

I love the illustrations; I love the language. But more than anything, I love that shifting perspective. (And my daughters love the animals, so this is a great story of the Nativity to share with the littlest readers.)

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born | Little Book, Big Story

On a related note

Advent, that season of expectant joy, is the perfect time to be nine months pregnant. Not because our schedule is clear or our house is clean, but because our hearts are awaiting God’s great gift to all of mankind while also awaiting that little, tangible gift given to our family in particular. We don’t know her name or her birthday, but she’s due to join us any time.

That said, I wanted to give you a peek at my plans for this blog’s future: I’m hoping to take a few weeks to a month off and then work my way back up to weekly posts over the next few months. God and the baby may disagree with me, but those, my friends, are my plans. I promise to share a post with you when the baby is born, and in the meantime, your prayers for our family are greatly appreciated. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and I look forward to sharing more books with you after the New Year!


The Stable Where Jesus Was Born
Rhonda Growler Greene, Susan Gaber (2002)

The Friendly Beasts | Tomie dePaola

Sometimes, at Christmastime, you just want to sing. If you love farm animals, then you just want to sing “The Friendly Beasts.” And if you love singing and farm animals and you’re three years old, then you want to sing “The Friendly Beasts” over and over and over.

At least, that’s how it goes at our house.

The Friendly Beasts | Little Book, Big Story

The Friendly Beasts is one of Sarah’s favorite songs and because of that, it’s become one of our favorites, too (it was either that, or let the pendulum swing the other direction. We didn’t want to let that happen). Tomie dePaola’s beautiful book walks through the song, verse by verse, with his oh-so-uniquely-beautiful illustrations, and closes with a page of sheet music so that you can pick the tune out on the piano for your kids. (If you don’t have a piano or don’t like the piano or find that sheet music bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Ancient Hebrew, you can also sing along to Sufjan Stevens’s version of the song.)

But if your little musician loves singing and animals and happens to be three, get ready: “The Friendly Beasts” season does not close at the first of the year. (But you may not mind that as much as you think.)

The Friendly Beasts | Little Book, Big Story


The Friendly Beasts
Tomie de Paola (1998)