Author: Joseph Slate
Illustrator: Ashley Wolff
Publisher: Puffin Book
Publisher’s Intended Audience: Ages 3-8. The simple, rhyming text would certainly be most appealing for this age group.
Summary: This book tells in rhyming verse how the animals in the stable prepared for the birth of the Baby Jesus. The animals make room, clean, “decorate”, and create a warm and welcoming place for Jesus to sleep.
Literary elements at work in the story (Genre, setting, characterization, plot, theme, point of view, style): This story is set in the stable where Jesus is born. It is told in very simple, rhyming verse through dialogue between the animals (“Who is coming to our house? ‘Someone, someone,’ says Mouse.”). Quickly, they work hard to prepare a welcome and happy place for their guests. Every animal in the stable has an important role to play and is excited to be a part of the celebration of the first Christmas.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability: Usually when we read about the first Christmas we hear about Mary and Joseph’s long journey, an inn too full to house them, and the stable where the Baby Jesus was born. In this sweet story, we see how excitedly the animals prepared for their guests and we are reminded that everyone, regardless of their status, is an equal and very important part of the Christmas story. All share in the joy and hope of that miraculous night.
Scripture: Matthew 1:18 -2:12; Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-21; Psalm 150:6; Hebrews 13:2
Theology: This sweet and simple story reveals the joy and hope that was present that night. The animals in the stable did not know who was coming. They simply knew that guests were on the way and any guests, no matter who they were, were important. They prepared the stable for very special visitors and ended up welcoming the most special visitor of all.
Faith Talk Questions (Intended for use with preschoolers):
- What do the animals in the stable do when they find out guests are coming?
- They did not know that Mary and Joseph would be their guests so why do you think they worked so hard to prepare the stable?
- Do you think they would have behaved differently if they had known the Baby Jesus would be born in the stable that night?
- How do you think the animals felt when they discovered Mary and Joseph were their guests?
Review prepared by Erin Mills, MACE, Entering cohort – 2007.