Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Picture Books: Jesus & the Three Wise Men (Kings)

We Three KingsWe Three Kings (ages ALL) by Gennady Spirin  
Almost two thousand years ago, three men (from different regions) set out to find the newborn king by following a sparkling star.  He is no ordinary king though—He is the King of king and Lord of lords.  His name is Jesus.  Renowned artists Gennady Spirin pays tribute in this stunning picture book to the beloved Christmas carol “We Three Kings” and the famous journey of these three wise men.  Spirin’s dazzling and intricate illustrations compliment the song’s words and bring them to life. 

Small Camel Follows the StarSmall Camel Follows the Star (ages 3-9) by Rachel W. N. Brown  
When wise Balthazar sees the great star in the sky, he instructs his servants to prepare for his long journey.  Small Camel, the newest camel in his corral, is sad that his mother will be gone for many months for the trip and that he has to miss out on it.  When Balthazar unexpectantly secures a small bundle on his back, Small Camel is proud and thrilled to be a part of this special expedition.   Later in the journey, two more packages are added—one from Melchior and the other from Gaspar.  They are all gifts for the newborn king.  After months of travel, they arrive at the home of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  Small Camel is escorted into the courtyard where he enthusiastically watches as the packages from his back are laid before the king, Jesus.  Even after visiting many other places, Small Camel reminisces that none were as special as the time he carried the gifts for Jesus. The point of view of the narrative is fictional, but the story stays true to the biblical account and church tradition. 

The Story of the Three Wise Kings (ages ALL) by Tomie dePaola  
DePaola reverently retells and skillfully illustrates the brief account of the three kings’ visit to Jesus as described in the Gospel of Matthew.  Additional non-biblical details are added that were passed down from church tradition that includes the wise men’s names and countries of origin.  Each of the men is seen consulting their books and studying the stars.  They decided to follow the star and bring a gift worthy of a king.  Melchior brings gold; Gaspar carries frankincense, and Balthazar takes myrrh.  The three men meet along the way and decide to continue the journey together.   Herod assists them while secretly plotting.   Finally, they find the baby Jesus who they honor and worship.  After a visit from an angel, they return to their countries by an alternate route.  The language and narrative is concise and direct which makes it accessible to people of all ages. 

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