Thursday, October 9, 2014

BookCrash Review: The First Christmas retold by Janice D. Green

I recently reviewed The First Christmas as retold by Janice D. Green with illustrations by the talented Violet Vandor. I strive to focus on the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season. I'm already preparing for Christmas by reading and choosing books for my Christmas Book Tree Advent Countdown which is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I also try to tie in an activities related to the story read aloud. Let me tell you about a book I reviewed that includes both a familiar story we must all hear and a fun activity that'll engage your child.

Book Description (From the Website)
The First Christmas, by Janice Green and illustrated by Violet Vandor, tells the account of the birth of Jesus Christ. Adults and children alike will enjoy snuggling up to share these thirteen colorful scenes and the engaging discussion questions as this timeless story unfolds. Even older readers may be surprised to learn something new as they read again of the Messiah's birth.

My Thoughts
The 32-page paperback book gives a well-written, detailed, and complete account of the Nativity Story. The message is one that has been heard by many over the years but is of great importance for all children. I really appreciated the italicized conversation starters or questions found on each page that enable the parent to check their child's understanding following each section of the story. These questions will help you interact and engage with your child and help them focus on key topics. The questions help children make personal connections to their lives and feelings in relation to the story. For example, the author asks the child in the book "How do you think Mary and Joseph felt to have to walk or ride a donkey for days? Can you think of a time when you were very tired but you couldn't stop and rest?" The questions will spark a conversation and get the child thinking about their lives.

The lovely illustrations are simple and suitable for all children. There are not any inappropriate or violent illustrations in this retelling. There is a relevant illustration on the left side of each two-page spread of the story.

I love books that include meaningful activities within the pages of the book. This children's book concludes with a Bible Quilt activity that reinforces the truths from the Bible. The First Christmas coloring pages for the family activity are found on the publisher's website, however they are not FREE. They cost $1.50 for a PDF downloadable file which is reasonably priced considering the memories and possible traditions you'll create with your family. I do feel that it would be in the best interest of the author to offer these coloring pages FREE to individuals that purchase the book. This could be done using a special link and/or password added at the front of the book.

I would like to note that this book begins not with the angel's announcement to Mary, but that it begins with Gabriel's visit to Zachariah and Elizabeth about the birth of John the Baptist. You'll hear about Mary and Joseph's visits from the Angel, Mary's visit with her cousin Elizabeth, their travels to Bethlehem, the discussion with the innkeeper, Jesus's birth, the angel's visit with the shepherds, and lastly the journey of the Three Wise Men as captured in 13 colorful scenes depicting this retelling of Jesus's birth.

A small suggestion to the author would be to capitalize any words or phrases that reference God or Jesus. Another minor suggestion would be to make the story more concise for younger readers who may not be able to sit still for long time periods. It may be a little too wordy for readers in the youngest age group.

I recommend this delightful book to Christian families with children in preschool through early elementary ages 4-12. You could read the book as part of your morning devotions or bedtime read aloud during the Christmas season. I will be giving this book to my daughter for Christmas this year. You could even break the story up over several days reading a little each day to make it easier on younger children. It would make a perfect Christmas gift for relatives and friends. There's a good chance that this book may become a tradition if you enjoy reading Christmas stories every year. I know every year we enjoy telling the story of Jesus's birth. If you do too, then this read aloud book can be added to your collection. You may even want to share this title with the Children's Ministry staff members at your church or even with grandparents.

HoneyComb Adventures $9.95
Amazon $9.95

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. Websites may include selected pages to preview before purchasing the book.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash book review program in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your honest evaluation of my book. I am delighted that you recommended it for children's ministry staff as well as parents and grandchildren.

    I would like to clarify my decision not to use capitol letters on pronouns referring to God or Jesus. I too was a holdout for the capitol letters until I tried to record my book. The capitol letters caused me to pause at the wrong places. I hope parents will read this book to their children, and I don't want anything to confuse the flow of the language. Grammarians now discourage the use of the capitol letters. The recent Bible translations don't use them.