Reviews for Story of Christmas


Booklist Reviews 2011 December #1
Dalton, who beautifully illustrated Brother Sun, Sister Moon (2011), a St. Francis story by Katherine Paterson, here uses her distinctive cut-paper artwork to tell the Nativity story. Using text from the King James Bible (chapters and verse not specified), the text begins, "In the days of Herod . . . there was a virgin espoused to a man named Joseph." What follows is the familiar story, with angels and inns, shepherds and wise men, ending with the flight to Egypt and, briefly, the Holy Family's return. Dalton's paper-cutting technique, a Pennsylvania German folk-art tradition called scherenschnitte, allows her to play with various motifs, particularly flowers, leaves, and angels' wings. Set upon an ink-black background, the flora and fauna seem three-dimensional. Slightly less successful are the people, whose faces, in particular, lack the sophistication of the rest of the art. That's a small blemish, however, in such a lovely treatment. Those wanting a classic version of the Christmas story will find it here. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Dalton (Brother Sun, Sister Moon) illustrates the King James version of the Nativity story with cut-paper art. The folk medium is well suited to the old-fashioned language; the result is a handsome, homey Christmas book that ends not with the Wise Men but with Jesus growing up in Nazareth "and the grace of God was upon him."

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #1

The Nativity story from the King James Bible serves as the text for this engaging interpretation done in exquisite cut-paper–and-watercolor illustrations that stand out against dramatic, black backgrounds.

Dalton's intricate illustrations are cut from paper and then hand-colored to fill in textures and details. Many of the illustrations employ mirror images at each side as in traditional paper-cutting art, with a single focal element showcased in the center. Other formats vary the perspective, including a dramatic overhead view of Baby Jesus in the manger full of hay and a complex procession of multiple characters in panels outlined in organic tree-limb shapes, illustrating the Flight into Egypt. Many of the compositions consciously echo medieval illuminations. Traditional symbols for Mary (roses, lilies and rose of Sharon) are worked into the illustrations, and roses decorate the endpapers as well. Though the overall look of the cut-paper illustrations is dramatic, the faces of the people tend to look sad or disengaged throughout the story, especially in the Christmas Eve scene in the stable. Another issue is the apparent advanced age of Joseph, who is bald and has a white beard, in comparison to the youthful Mary. Though this disparity has historical roots in apocryphal literature and early Christian art, it may feel odd to modern children.

The downcast faces of the people and angels and the old-fashioned language of the traditional text serve to distance readers. The "good tidings of great joy" are missing from this otherwise visually stunning work. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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