Illustrators: Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Publisher’s Intended Audience: Preschool – Grade 2
Summary: It is nearly Christmas and Tyler’s family is busy getting ready but Tyler doesn’t have anything to do. Tyler’s brother, T.J. discovers that the angel for the top of the tree is broken and his parents say they will have to get a new one. Tyler wonders aloud why the angels all look like girls, all have gold hair, and all have pink skin? Why don’t any of the angels look like him? He decides that he is going to find the family’s new angel – one that looks just like him. He searches and searches but cannot find one anywhere. He shares his problem with a local art student who babysits for him sometimes and also plays Santa Claus at the department store during the Christmas season. On Christmas Day a special present arrives just for Tyler…an angel that looks just like him.
Literary elements at work in the story (Genre, setting, characterization, plot, theme, point of view, style): An Angel Just Like Me is a modern-day story that captures the wonderful questions of children when they see things they don’t quite understand. It is told in the voice of a third-person narrator with special insight into Tyler’s thoughts and feelings. Surrounded by family, Tyler starts to wonder why all of the angels at Christmas look alike, and why none of them look like him. It is a simple but poignant question and it leads to other questions like “why doesn’t the baby Jesus in the manger scene at church look Jewish” and “what did Jesus really look like two thousand years ago?” These are often the kinds of questions that terrify parents, but Tyler’s mother tells him they are good questions but she simply doesn’t know the answers and he continues to think about them on his own.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability: With sweet and simple text and beautiful illustrations this book tackles the serious and often difficult issues of race, gender, and cultural identity in a way that will be appealing to adults and that children can understand. Something as simple as a Christmas angel can make a significant statement to a child about how they are represented.
Scripture: Birth narratives found in Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 1:26-1:38 and 2:1-21; Luke 2:9-10; John 1:12
Theology: This story reminds us that the story of our faith is and must be for all of us. We all share in the glory and joy that were present on the night of Jesus’ birth and continue to be present in our hearts today. Something seemingly unimportant to an adult, for example the appearance of a Christmas angel, can be significant to a child and can lead them to question the way things are. As adults, we are compelled to listen, and to work through these questions with our children.
Faith Talk Questions (Intended for use with all ages):
- When Tyler’s brother discovered the family’s broken angel, what did Tyler notice about the angel’s appearance? What did he think was strange?
- What did Tyler do when his family said they needed a new angel? Why did he have trouble finding one?
- Tyler had a lot of other questions for his mother about Jesus, Mary and Joseph and about how they looked. Why do you think these details were so important to Tyler? How do you think Jesus, Mary and Joseph looked?
- Tyler receives a very special gift from his friend on Christmas Day. What was the gift? Why do you think his other friends wanted one too?
- Think about other decorations, symbols, and traditions we use and celebrate at Christmas. Do you think any of those could make someone feel left out? How could we change that?
Review prepared by Erin Mills, MACE, Entering cohort – 2007
An Angel Just Like Me by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.