Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Room for a Little One

by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Crockcroft. I bought this book for my boys last year and it is one of my favorite Christmas stories. The illustrations are amazing. Some of the pages are a little too twinkley in a Thomas Kinkade - esk way. This dog’s eyes, in particular, begin to creep me out. Too human or something.

The story is predictable but satisfying. First the dog comes to the stable looking for a place to sleep and is welcomed by the ox. Then the cat comes, at first afraid but welcomed by the dog. Then a mouse, afraid but welcomed. (Because you see there is always room for a little one…) Mary and Joseph come walking up wearily. The ox welcomes them into their haven. “Tired donkey brought Mary into the stable. Joseph made her a warm bed in the straw, to save her from the cold of the night.”
In the stable the light glows. Mary and Joseph show concern and pain on their faces before (during?) the birth; joy and devotion after. I love the way Joseph has kinky hair and pouty lips. Too many portrayals of this story come in blond and blue eyes. It’s nice to see Middle Eastern/African features.

This is such an archetypical family group; circles in circles of wonder, coziness and comfort. Buddy Boy looks at this and can’t quite grasp the perspective however. The view of the ox from above always elicits the question “what is that?” He’s never seen an animal that big from above and the way the hip and backbone stick out unnerves him. Also in this picture I have to wonder why it is the mouse that is in the exact center of the light, rather than Jesus. The mouse is the littlest one?

Last year at the school book fair I showed one of my teacher friends that I was planning on buying this for my two little adopted sons and she burst out laughing at me. “There better not be room for another little one at your house!” She said. Yeah, OK so I just like the concept is all. And the pictures are so beautiful. If you only have one book telling the Christmas story in your home this should be the one.
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