Reviews for Birds of Bethlehem

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
While pecking for grain in the fields, Bethlehem's birds discuss what they saw the previous night. A green bird noticed many people walking over the hills. A yellow bird observed something unusual: the inn was full. A blue bird saw something strange: a couple housed in the inn's stable. A red bird witnessed something extraordinary: an angel appearing to shepherds, announcing "tidings of great joy," and telling them to visit a baby in a manger. Together, the birds fly to the stable to see the miracle. While stories about animals visiting baby Jesus are not uncommon, it is unusual to find one with a short text that traces the Nativity story reverently and without sentimentality. On the handsome dust jacket, the title's silver letters have an iridescent sheen that shifts colors as the angle of light changes. It's a playful, slightly mysterious element welcoming children to the story within. Painted in acrylics, the illustrations are notable for their simplified forms, pleasing compositions, and subtle combinations of colors. An inviting read-aloud choice for Christmas. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Peaceably sharing the gleanings of the autumn harvest, a dozen birds discuss the news. The blue pair has seen a couple being led to the stables; the red birds have seen an angel in the sky; the brown ones have heard the heavenly host; etc. The acrylic paintings of the birds and Holy Family (its members left unidentified) are theatrically composed on spacious spreads.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
A quiet, simple story told by pairs of birds who witness the Nativity scene in Bethlehem. In turn, each pair of birds comments to others in the flock about something unusual observed in the town. The green birds saw a long line of people, the yellow birds saw that the inn was full, and the blue birds saw a man and his wife being led to the stable outside the inn. Other birds see and hear an angel announcing the birth of a special baby, and still others hear angels singing. Finally, all the birds fly into the stable and see "a young mother, her husband and their newborn baby," though there is no explanation of their significance. The subdued text fails to convey much emotion or excitement, despite the fact that the birds refer to the appearance of the angels as "extraordinary" and "spectacular." DePaola's simplified, folk-art–inspired style is well-suited to the stylized birds, but the announcing angel has a grim face, and the heavenly hosts are downright spooky, like flying aliens. Many other Nativity stories, such as Hurry! Hurry! Have You Heard? by Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrated by Jane Dyer (2008), more effectively convey the excitement of animal characters journeying to the stable. (Picture book/religion. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #2

No stranger to holiday stories, dePaola (Strega Nona's Gift; The Night Before Christmas) offers a bird's-eye view of the Nativity. Pairs of excited, colorful birds share the strange occurrences they've noticed ("We were roosting in a tree on the hill.... We saw an extraordinary thing," says the red bird and his mate). The art is classic dePaola: the simple shapes of the birds, rolling hills, and stable are delineated by soft lines painted in opaque acrylics of vivid teal and orange-red, and muted by a soft patina. The effect is as pleasing as the whimsical storytelling, as dePaola offers a refreshingly indirect take on how the news of Jesus's birth spread to all creatures. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

K-Gr 3--A bird's-eye view of the Nativity. Early one winter morning in Bethlehem, some colorful birds gather for breakfast and recount the unusual and spectacular sights they have seen over recent days-people streaming into town, a full inn, a man and his wife led to a stable, an angel bringing tidings of joy, and heavenly hosts singing "Glory to God" in the night sky. Avian observers agree to follow the shepherds where they behold the most miraculous sight of all. dePaola does not disappoint with his charmingly simple illustrations and spare text. An ideal read-aloud.--Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

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