Books Faeries, Goddesses, Spirit-Stars It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Read-a-Latte Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] The Christmas Story from the eyes of Wild Animals


Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

I have also written a post about my thoughts on the Accelerated Reader Program.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 9.19.37 AM

I am inviting fellow teachers, teacher educators, writers, librarians, authors, artists, parents, fellow book enthusiasts to share their own experiences and ideas about the AR program.

Does the Accelerated Reader Program help develop Lifelong Readers?

Widget courtesy of the ever-talented Iphigene.

One of the reasons why we chose this theme for November-December is that it fits quite well with Christmas and stories about the Nativity. These two picture books are quite unique in the sense that they look at Christmas Day from the perspective of wild and domesticated animals who were there during Christ’s birth.

IMG_9767One Starry Night

Text by: Lauren Thompson Illustrated by: Jonathan Bean
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins “one starry night” with each full page spread featuring animals watching over and caring for their young. From a sheep watching over her lamb, a cow watching over her calf, a nanny goat looking after her kid, a pig caring for her piglet, a dog watching over her pup, a dove her dovelings among other creatures – the narrative culminates with Mary and Joseph watching over their newborn babe in a barn.


It is a deceptively simple story with just two lines of text per page. The second line is in italics and does not seem to be connected to the first line, as the italicized lines form their own rhyming verse, almost like a prayer of sorts, about what it means for Christ to be born. Teachers might also be interested to know that there is a section found at the beginning of the book that lists down the wild animals featured in the book, said to be be found in the Holy Land during the actual nativity story. These wild animals are said to be the cousins of the domesticated animals named in the actual text.


This is a great read-aloud best read in two voices.

We Were There: A Nativity StoryIMG_9621

Written By: Eve Bunting Paintings by: Wendell Minor
Published by: Clarion Books, 2001
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

For those of you familiar with Wendell Minor’s paintings, you would be glad to see them paired with Eve Bunting’s lyrical text in this beautiful bookWhile the domesticated animals were named, featured, and glorified in One Starry Night, the wild creatures take center stage in We Were There.


Each creature from the snake to the fat, warty toad are slowly slithering and crawling their way to that one humble place, filled with hay and rats where a Divine Being would soon be born:


I am BAT.

I swoop,


in a loop

of silence.

I do not need the light of that new star

to show me where.

I will be there.

That except should give you an idea of how precious this book is. And here is my favourite illustration from the book:


Yes, these creatures were there. And even they know just how special a night this is. Merry Christmas, Monday Reading friends!

Currently Reading…


Just finished reading Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me for my adult book club. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found that the ‘foreshadowing’ technique was used to such a degree that reading the last part of the book was kind of anticlimactic for me. Currently reading Walter Moers’ A Wild Ride Through the Night.


Moers’ fantastical worlds never fail to move me.


Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 253, 254 (150)

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] The Christmas Story from the eyes of Wild Animals

  1. One Starry Night looks beautiful. I thought I was going crazy but your page really is snowing!


  2. So many things to say here! First, love the snow effect. Very cool. Second, why didn’t I visit here earlier this month (Jeff hitting head with fist)? My theme in reader’s workshop this past month was folklore so your fairy books would have been great. Third, A Starry Night looks very intriguing and agree with Earl’s comment above. Fourth, it’s been over two years since I read WYRM, but I remember liking it a great deal. I can see where the foreshadowing was too much. Happy holidays, Myra! As usual, a terrific post.


  3. Wow, We Were There has some gorgeous pictures, glad to see a glimpse of them! 🙂 Happy reading weeks to you!


  4. Sorry you didn’t enjoy When you Reach me that much. I really liked it. Loved the NYC setting. The time in history it was set. And the dynamics between all of the characters. As always you have featured some absolutely beautiful books! thank you.


    • Hi Carrie. I was excited too about the NYC setting. One of the reasons why I think my now-twelve year old daughter would like the book (she looooves New York), but I found the build-up a little too much. I don’t know. Maybe I read it at the wrong time, perhaps if I go back and read it at a different point in my life, I’d take to it quite differently. I liked it, but I wasn’t crazy about it.


  5. bluestockingthinking

    One Starry Night appeals to me, it looks simple, sweet and lovely! I enjoyed Liar and Spy better than When You Reach me, you might check that one out someday 🙂


  6. I didn’t love When You reach Me the first time I read it, but I decided to reread after I read & adored Liar & Spy and also had recently reread Wrinkle in Time (a book I loved as a child but that doesn’t hold up for me even a little bit now). And the second time, I really loved When You Reach Me. Funny how sometimes books are like that! It’s rare for me to reread a book I like but don’t love, but I’m glad I did this time. Another new-to-me Eve Bunting book! She is so prolific and writes such diverse titles!


  7. Pingback: Christmas Cheer and Storytelling | Gathering Books

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