Are you ready for Christmas, or are you like me and only just now beginning to think about that fact that two short months from today, the holiday will be upon us? Honestly, we’ve scaled our Christmas busy-ness down to a handful of traditions we love. The one that never fails to elicit excitement in our girls is our Christmas books basket, and it’s really not too early to start preparing for this beloved tradition. It was a no-brainer, then, when Maryann MacDonald‘s publicist contacted me about reviewing her newest picture book (just released this past week!)
The Christmas Cat is one of those books that looks like an instant classic to me. In the vein of Room for a Little One and The Crippled Lamb, The Christmas Cat is the story of the Holy Family’s experience in the stable on the night of Jesus’ birth. Jesus cries and cries, and the kindly animals do their best to comfort him, but to no avail. Then a curious little kitten appears, and Jesus is soothed and satisfied by the kitten’s attention. Jesus and the kitten grow up together as best friends until the Holy Family must leave their home in a hurry, and the cat is nowhere to be found! All is well in the end, though, as the cat made himself a stowaway in a basket tied to their donkey’s flank. When the cat hears Jesus’ cries, he makes his presence known to once again comfort the child. MacDonald‘s skills as a storyteller shine through her descriptions most of all. This is one of my favorites:
Then a curious kitten crept out of the shadows. Step by careful step, he edged toward Jesus. Reaching Mary’s feet, he crouched, wiggled his back, and pounced lightly into her lap.
Can’t you just see the sweet little kitten in all his friskiness? I was very interested to learn that MacDonald took her inspiration for this story from DaVinci’s La Madonna del Gatto (the Madonna and the Cat), and then later she learned of the legend of a cat that lived in the Bethlehem stable and purred the baby Jesus to sleep. This sweet picture book grew from these two things. Amy June Bates‘ gorgeously expressive watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations perfectly complement the story. My favorite illustration is the one of a rather done-for Mary as she tries to comfort the babe. (Maybe because I’ve felt that way a time or two myself?) My girls laughed aloud when they saw the picture of the braying donkey and Joseph’s startled reaction. We give this new picture book a Highly Recommended! (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013)
- My review of MacDonald’s middle grade novel-in-verse, Odette’s Secrets (I enjoyed this one so much I nominated it for the Cybils Award!)
- Maryann MacDonald’s website
- Amy Junes Bates’ website and blog
I am very pleased to announce that Maryann MacDonald and Dial Books for Young Readers have offered a copy of The Christmas Cat to four Hope Is the Word readers! All you have to do to be entered for the giveaway is leave a comment here on my blog. Each additional way you share about this giveaway (i.e. Facebook link, Twitter link, or blog entry) will qualify you for another comment, so be sure to leave one for each way you spread the word about this fantastic opportunity to win! This giveaway opportunity will end on Thursday, October 31, at 8 p.m. CST, and winners will be posted shortly thereafter. Please be sure to leave your email address or I’ll be forced to pick another winner. 😉