Name of Book: The Donkey’s Christmas Song
Author: Nancy Tafuri
Illustrator: Nancy Tafuri
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2014 (Out of print, but available from 3rd party sellers)
Audience: 2-5 years
Summary: This sweet story about the birth of Jesus is told through the perspective of the animals in the stable on that night long ago. The animals want to welcome the baby with a song, but the donkey is hesitant to participate because he is afraid that this bray will be too loud. After the doves “coo” the slow, sweet song, the cow “moos” her low, warm song, the goats “maa” the gentle song, the sheep “baa” their tender song, the chicks “cheep” their little song, the mice “eep” their quiet song, it is the shy little donkey’s turn to greet baby Jesus. First, the donkey ekes out a smile, and then the lets loose and sings his noisy song with a loud “Hee-aw! Hee-aw! Hee-aw!” Then the baby laughs with joy, and the donkey snuggles up to him, and they go to sleep.
Literary elements at work in the story: The same basic words are repeated on every page, but each two-page spread features a new barnyard animal who sings a song to Jesus in his or her own special way. The ink and watercolor illustrations guide the story along—the expressions on the animals’ faces are sweet and serene. Their eyes are full of wonder and awe, and they are focused on the baby on every page. Mary and Joseph only make an appearance in the story on the first two pages. After that, the story is about the animals welcoming Jesus into the world.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are white. Most of the illustrations are close-ups of the animals and Jesus in the stable, so not much information can be gathered about their culture and surroundings.
Theological Conversation Partners: Luke 2:5-7; Matthew 1:18-25;The birth of Jesus; We all have different gifts.
Faith Talk Questions
- What is the name of the baby in the story? How do you know?
- Which animal is your favorite?
- Why do you think the donkey was afraid to sing to Jesus?
- What happened when the donkey finally sang?
- Have you ever been too shy or too scared to try something?
- We are all beautifully and wonderfully made by God, and we all have different gifts. What are your gifts? What can you do that is special?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Catherine Monroe.
The Donkey’s Christmas Song by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.