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story.lead_photo.caption (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

TITLE: Long Ago, On a Silent Night

BY: Julie Berry, illustrated by Annie Won (Orchard Books, September), 45 pages, $17.99 hardcover, $10.99 ebook.

STORY: Two versions of a pretty story alternate on these richly colored pages. In melodic, sugary verses, a narrator describes feeling for a child the way Mary felt for her baby boy, Jesus Christ. Time shifts from then to now and back again.

When Julie Berry's verses are about the fabled Christmas 2,000 years ago, Annie Won's star-spangled, full-bleed illustrations depict wise men on the way, friendly animals and a ruddy-cheeked, brown-haired mama with a pretty baby with weepy eyes. We only see the long-ago baby's father, Joseph, as a wee figure inside a snow globe.

But when Berry's verses shift to today's world, we see a mother, a father, an always happy baby and even a grandmother and grandfather. They're aglow, this mixed-race, urban Nativity set. Eventually, the wise men make their way to the modern family's apartment house.

She mentions Anna and Simeon at the temple, and they do suggest grandparent-like people, but adults might need to explain them for the child not old enough to have memorized chapter and verse.

Interesting little figures populate the backgrounds. There's a lot to look at on the pages.

— Celia Storey

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

ActiveStyle on 12/02/2019

Print Headline: READ TO ME

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