M is for Manger — A Book Review

Confession:  We take a day off from school every year to decorate for Christmas.  When everyone was small, it truly took all day.  However, now that everyone is strong and competent, the boxes are out of the attic, and everything is festive in a matter of hours, and it’s a good thing because the boys all have places to be and things to do these days.  One of the things I miss about those all-day decorating sessions is the slow unpacking of the box of Christmas books.  Each one was treasured and lifted, one by one, out of the box and into the basket in the living room.

“Let’s read this one first!”
And then it was story time with every book connected in myriad ways to happy memories of Christmas.

Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley have created a Christmas book that is unlike any in our collection because it is also an alphabet book.  M is for Manger illustrator Claire Keay has produced from-A-to-Z illustrations for each letter, featuring large and lively pastel monograms, traceable by little fingers and accompanied by sweet images that could easily be Joseph and Mary themselves . . . or maybe some small person in costume.

Each two-page spread includes four lines of rhymed text — just right for Christmas-season attention spans.  I’m looking forward to reading our copy to my (adorable) one-year old grandson.  This Christmas, we may just cover the basics:

“A is for Angel

B is for Believed . . .”

Next year when he is two (Did I mention that he is adorable?), I know that he will be ready for the whole story:

“C is for Carpenter
A carpenter named Joseph chose Mary for his wife.
The news that Mary told him would soon change Joseph’s life.”

By the time Raymond is three, he will be ready to read the memory verses (most of them lifted directly from the four Gospel accounts of Christmas story with one Isaiah prophecy thrown in) chosen by the authors to go with each part of the story, and then to match them with the alphabet word that corresponds:

Gram:  “Who said, ‘Why am I so honored that the mother of my Lord should visit me?'”

Raymond:  “Elisabeth!”  (He’s also very bright.)

Wise and thoughtful parents will remember to provide “big picture” continuity to the alphabetical list of words by tying them to the family’s Nativity scene.  Tactile learners will have lots of fun and retain the story’s details if they can point to items in the crèche as they are mentioned.

M is for Manger is a Christmas book that will grow up with a child, becoming a better memory every year.

This book was provided by Tyndale Kids, a division of Tyndale House Publishers,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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18 thoughts on “M is for Manger — A Book Review”

  1. Michele,
    My husband and I have numerous filled bookshelves around our home. In a recent attic clean up, we counted 16 boxes of other books!! A good portion are children’s books (I was a preschool teacher and also read constantly to my two). The book you review, here, may have to make it into our library. No grandchildren, yet, but boy do we have books for them when they arrive!! As always, I enjoy your reviews and I love the skip school for one day of decorating…why didn’t I think of that?
    Blessings to you sweet friend,


  2. We always took the whole month of December off of school for decorating, ministry, and celebrating! A benefit of homeschooling! The book sounds sweet.


  3. Amazing how books on one’s shelves change as children grow up – at first it is reading books like the one you review here. Now it is Maths, Law, Computing and all other difficult subjects I don’t understand.

    God bless.


    1. HA! That’s why God invented grandchildren! But you’re right! I do miss reading picture books to my own kids — I am very fortunate to still have a thirteen year old who still loves to share Tolkien and Herriot and other chapter book read alouds with me!


      1. She wrote quite a few of the Little Blessings series including a year full of devotions for preschoolers. We’ve been through the devotions several years now and we have most of her other books memorized! Here’s an Amazon quick search of her stuff (http://amzn.to/1OIbVey)

        Thanks for sharing this at the Desperate Homeschoolers’ Christmas Reads for Kids’ blog hop! Love it!


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