Henry Holt & Company: The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

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Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem

Poet and artist Ashley Bryan (Beautiful Blackbird) moves the nativity story to a child's eye–view with this moving tale of a boy shepherd and carpenter. Like the little drummer boy, this young hero and his gifts share much in common with the Christ child.

The story reads like song lyrics that trip off the tongue: "Who built the stable/ Where the Baby Jesus lay?/ Was it built of bricks,/ Was it built of clay?" Bryan smoothly moves from the human hands lifting the rafters of the stable, to God's own hands, instantly linking the earthbound to the celestial, like the foundation of the house and its high roof beams. We see the child care for his animals and build a shelter for them. Later, when he sees "a poor man and a woman,/ Wandering in the night," the boy invites Mary and Joseph to stay in the stable he built. Tempera-and-acrylic illustrations resemble watercolors as they evoke the feeling of stained glass, and the characters' faces reflect the citizenry of Egypt and the Middle East through which the Holy Family traveled. Exquisite. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness