Not only is Jesus’ birth one of the most amazing events in all of history, but the story of the nativity is also one of the most beloved and oft-related tales from the past that we share with our children. With this in mind, and with the countless picture books already available on the market that recall and recount His birth, one might wonder if there’s a need for another story focused upon the nativity.
It’s true that Dandi Daley Mackall’s Tiny Baby Jesus may have been repetitive if it were a straight-forward retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth, but, thankfully, this title has even more to offer us. Mackall’s text alternates sweet descriptions of the infant God that correspond to parallel descriptions of His adult life. For instance, one page reads, “Tiny baby Jesus, eyes so clear and bright. Wise men seek the newborn King on this starry night.” While the next page responds with, “Tender eyes of Jesus see the needs of man. Jesus offers peace on earth as only Jesus can. These scenes drawing connections between Jesus’ life as a baby and his ministry as an adult, culminate in His ultimate act of redemption (no illustrations of the crucifixion are included).
Mackall’s rhyming text is accompanied by soft, classic illustrations from accomplished illustration Julia Noonan that play a vital role in providing the supporting framework for the chronology of the story. From the two-page spread on the interior cover that shows a bright star over a distant Bethlehem, the next spread which shows Joseph leading Mary on a donkey, to the dedication page which shows Mary with swaddling clothes in-hand to wrap her new child – the stage is set. The illustrations continue to move us through Jesus’ life as an infant, culminating with His departure from the stable with Mary and Joseph. The parallel illustrations move from the beginning of Jesus’ adult ministry beginning with a depiction of Him as a young carpenter and ending with an image of His vigil in the garden of Gethsemane.
This all sounds more awkward in print than it appears in execution, the result is natural, lovely, and easy to comprehend once the book is held in your hands. My little girls gather around when I read this title to them, and even my tiny toddler coos at the adorable depictions of Jesus as an infant. Working in watercolor and pencils, Noonan’s muted palette lends a classical, gentle tone to the illustrations, which is calm and hope-filled throughout.
Parents looking for a picture book that doesn’t include the appearance of the magi at Jesus’ birthplace will be thrilled to find that Mackall brings only the shepherds to visit the newborn King. Families looking for a great nativity story that isn’t focused around Christmas terminology will also be pleased to find that the word is only mentioned once near the end, and can be easily substituted while reading aloud if so desired.
Tiny Baby Jesus is the perfect choice for including in family traditions. With thoughts naturally turning toward Jesus’ birth at this time of year, this heirloom quality title will find a place in yearly holiday rituals for families who seek to connect Jesus’ infancy with His work as Savior.Powered by Sidelines