When one of the kids is sick, or Amy is worn out, or the Goodgames just need a quiet Sunday morning at home, my family opens up The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones for “home church.” We read a chapter or two, mix in some singing, prayer, and bible reading, and it’s our kids’ favorite kind of worship time. Granted, the whole “service” only lasts around 30 minutes, which has its appeal across generations, but the kiddos really look forward to the JSB. Every time, my eight-year-old son asks if we can read “one more chapter?” and often we do. So naturally, when I heard Sally read from Song of the Stars (her new Christmas storybook) in Nashville last month, I knew my family would love it. I’m so thankful for Sally Lloyd-Jones and her commitment to bringing real craftsmanship to books for children. Here’s my review from the Slugs & Bugs blog.
Clearly, Sally Lloyd-Jones has a way with words. Her award-winning best-seller The Jesus Storybook Bible brought depth and artistry to tiny Sunday school chairs around the world, and even transformed the way the gospel is taught to pastors in places like Uganda, Guinea, Senegal and Cameroon. This year Lloyd-Jones published a children’s book focused on the centerpiece of the human story: the Nativity. And with Song of the Stars, Lloyd-Jones again blesses families like mine with her uncanny gift for powerful, beautiful simplicity. Her Christmas story begins:
The world was about to change forever
And it almost went by unnoticed…
But the leaves, that night,
rustled with a rumor.
News rang out across the open fields
A song drifted over the hills.
Song of the Stars supposes that all of creation inhaled with anticipation as the Christ-child entered the world. The wind whispers, whales sing, sandpipers dance, and wild stallions drum their hooves, all to proclaim the coming of the King. The refrain “It’s time! It’s time!” resounds from forest to ocean to meadow while providing a delicious two-syllable repeating phrase for listening children to taste for themselves. And beneath the prose, Alison Jay’s paintings leap off the page. With smart use of perspective and detail, Jay paints scenes that are both intimate and sweeping within the span of your lap.
Song of the Stars bursts with imagination and playful reverence. A great white whale sings to a starfish. Baby Jesus rests in the manger surrounded by adoring beasts. I could feel the author’s love for the little ones who’s eyes will fill with wonder as the pages turn, while we parents read and wonder ourselves at this greatest gift of God. The Savior of the world arrived as a baby . . . maybe we were the last to know.
I’ve been a dad for eleven years now, and I’m so thankful we get to add Song of the Stars to our collection of Christmas books. The other night our oldest (my daughter) was reading it to her two younger brothers, and they were hanging on every word.