Reviews for Who Built the Stable? : A Nativity Poem

Booklist Reviews 2012 December #1
The award-winning Bryan offers a Nativity story told through the eyes of one young boy. The rhymed couplets introduce a little shepherd who is also apprenticed as a carpenter / in his father's employ. When a pregnant Mary asks if he knows a place that she and Joseph can stay, he welcomes them to his stable. Bryan writes that he got the idea for the book while traveling through Africa, which is reflected in both the book's cultural details and in the diverse characters. Although the African setting extends the universality, it does make for a bit of confusion. On a two-page spread, the text asks, Was Jesus born in Italy, / Russia, Spain, Japan? / No. He was born in Bethlehem. A rich and Verdant land. The artwork shows a very different Bethlehem with an African drummer, a giraffe, a zebra, a monkey, and an elephant, all in a jungle setting. Executed in exuberant folk-style art that shines like stained glass, the pictures have a simplicity that will appeal to children. There's much to look at here. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Bryan's child-centered verse involves readers from the very start as it tells the Nativity story from the point of view of the young shepherd/carpenter's apprentice who built that iconic stable. Lush illustrations offer a controlled tumult of verdant flora and fauna. The book ends with the boy welcoming Mary and Joseph to his stable and then communing with Baby Jesus.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
Bryan's Christmas offering combines a poignant poem about a shepherd boy who builds his own stable with exuberant paintings in a masterful melding of rhythmic text and dazzling art. His illustrations, in vibrant, glowing hues, fairly leap off the page with swirls of color in stained-glass tones lit by sunshine or starlight. Striped borders frame double-page spreads showing layered scenes of the carpentry shop, the stable and the surrounding countryside, a place of lush plants and huge trees. The boy who builds the stable serves as a shepherd, caring for the family's animals, but he is also a beginning carpenter, apprenticed to his father. The boy builds the stable himself and takes care of the animals there each morning and evening. When he sees Mary and Joseph outside at night with no place to sleep, the boy asks if they need help and offers them his stable. He sweeps the floor, puts fresh hay in the manger, provides a blanket and water and leaves his dog behind to watch over the sleeping couple. At dawn, the boy meets the new baby, proclaiming that this child will also be both a carpenter and a shepherd. Bryan's Bethlehem, a "rich and verdant land," seems an enchanted place where something mysterious and wonderful could happen, especially with a huge, twirling star illuminating the night sky. Brilliant. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #2

"A child built the stable./ A little shepherd boy/ Apprenticed as a carpenter/ In his father's employ" is Bryan's (All Things Bright and Beautiful) answer to the title's question. Told in rhyming verse, this touching take on the classic nativity story finds the young carpenter seeing himself in the newborn. ("in his heart he knew:/ The babe would be a carpenter./ He'd be a shepherd too"). Bryan wields tempera and acrylic in strong strokes to evoke Bethlehem, ("A rich and verdant land") with saturated shades of primary and secondary colors, lively expressions on human and animal faces, and sweeping lines to create the impression of movement. Pleasing to the eye and to the ear. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

PreS-2--Bryan first thought of the titular question while riding through the hills of Africa. He imagined that the bumpy road was similiar to the one that Mary might have traveled on her way to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. This beautifully written poem answers the question by stating that "A child built the stable./A little shepherd boy/Apprenticed as a carpenter/In his father's employ." When Mary and Joseph are turned away from other places, the little shepherd offers to shelter them. The prose is matched perfectly with Bryan's vibrant tempera and acrylic illustrations. The shepherd boy, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are depicted with warm brown skin tones set against a rainbow of colors. Each spread has a border to highlight the resplendent artwork and text at the bottom of each page. The entire poem is reprinted on the last spread. A welcome addition for all collections.--Diane Olivo-Posner, Los Angeles Public Library

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