The Birds of Bethlehem

The Birds of Bethlehem

by Tomie dePaola

Hardcover

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Overview

A perfect first Christmas book

This inventive and fresh Nativity story is told from a bird's-eye view. On the morning of the first Christmas, the birds of Bethlehem gather in the fields—not only to eat but to share the exciting news. People from all over have descended on Bethlehem and an angel has appeared in the night sky. Something extraordinary is coming! The birds agree that they must find this wondrous thing, and off they fly to the stable where a child has been born.

In simple language and dazzling pictures, beloved author-illustrator Tomie dePaola shares the awe and anticipation of the first Christmas. His cast of brightly colored, curious birds will appeal to young children, making this a perfect introduction to the story of Christmas.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times

…Tomie dePaola uses his signature folk-tale illustrations to stunning effect, painting in the style of faded frescos…Using a warm, sophisticated palette dominated by peach and teal for this daytime setting, dePaola sets the birds in a winter desert, their simple naïf shapes silhouetted against washes of rocky sand. This is not a dramatic story of trumpeters blasting and little drummer boys; the mood is instead one of hushed awe and contemplation.
—Pamela Paul

Publishers Weekly

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.)

From the Publisher

* “The art is classic dePaola. . . . 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.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A bird’s-eye view of the Nativity. . . . dePaola does not disappoint with his charmingly simple illustrations and spare text. An ideal read-aloud.” — School Library Journal

“The acrylic paintings of the birds and Holy Family are theatrically composed on spacious spreads. The colors of the birds (each, as they are in nature, a different shade from its mate) are a refreshing contrast to the holiday’s usual hues.” — The Horn Book

“Traces the Nativity story reverently and without sentimentality. . . . The illustrations are notable for their simplified forms, pleasing compositions, and subtle combinations of colors. An inviting readaloud choice for Christmas.” — Booklist

Booklist

Traces the Nativity story reverently and without sentimentality. . . . The illustrations are notable for their simplified forms, pleasing compositions, and subtle combinations of colors. An inviting readaloud choice for Christmas.

The Horn Book

The acrylic paintings of the birds and Holy Family are theatrically composed on spacious spreads. The colors of the birds (each, as they are in nature, a different shade from its mate) are a refreshing contrast to the holiday’s usual hues.

School Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399257803
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 147,066
Product dimensions: 10.36(w) x 10.14(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: AD630L (what's this?)
Age Range: 3 - 5 Years

Customer Reviews