For the Joy of Literacy!
Author: Linda Sue Park
Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline
Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has found her way onto my list of must-have children’s Christmas books for every Christian home, bringing the Christmas Story to life from a perspective I’ve never before heard. It precedes the wise men’s entrance onto the Christmas scene and showcases those who made the magi’s third gift possible, meanwhile answering the question that so many children and adults alike may have . . . what exactly is “myrrh” anyway?
Park leads the reader into the desert alongside a boy who carefully shadows his father in order to learn his trade, the harvesting of “tears”. It is a careful process that requires much attention to detail, finding the perfect trees, cutting in just the right place with just the right depth. It’s an art of patience and skill, all to collect the droplets of sap that each tree cries and that eventually harden enough to be removed intact.
We’re not only drawn into Park’s creative depiction of this delicate harvesting process and the perfectly matched illustrations, we’re also taken on an educational journey concerning the various uses of myrrh, an especially significant detail foreshadowing the Christ-child’s fateful purpose – sacrifice. It is a beautiful tale coupled with both solemnity and celebration.
After harvesting the tear of all tears, the boy and his father are invited to present it for sale to three peculiar individuals who had obviously travelled from afar and whose destination especially interested this young tear-harvester. A gift of myrrh for . . . a baby?
We are left with these final thoughts from the curious child. “I watch the three men mount their camels. I watch them leave the marketplace. I watch as they ride into the desert. And I wonder about the baby.” May we, like this young boy, keep watch over the true significance of Christmas and may we always watch in wonder at His goodness.
For Ages 5+
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