December 2 is upon us (and almost gone! Still getting back into writing, so bear with my belatedness.) For today, we read a simple Nativity story by one of my favorite simple illustrators, Dick Bruna. His work is so stripped down that many assume it is easy, but he is an excellent creator and completely fascinating to children. He knows just the right way to tell a story and his linework is firm and no-nonsense with flat, solid colors. I requested this book for last Christmas and have been impatiently waiting to share it until this year. So have a peek at Dick Bruna’s lovely story, The Christmas Book, 1964.
The story is nothing more than the well-known Nativity from Luke 2 in the Bible, but there is something in the way Dick Bruna tells it. He leaves out just enough, and explains things in a certain way that it almost feels too childish and yet it isn’t. His phrases make me smile, things like “swift-running camels,” a perfectly fine way to describe what the “kings” quite possibly rode on, but not a way that I would have put it. And he describes the angels vanishing and the night becoming dark again. There is a sort of poetry to his descriptions. I always love when authors don’t insult children with the way they write and Dick Bruna does an excellent job at writing for child without daring to do something like “stoop to their level.”
Along with the writing, the characters are simply a delight. I love how they are all always looking at the reader. It is so welcoming and gentle and personal. Dick Bruna’s style, as in his Miffy books, can easily be brushed aside as nothing important, but I urge you to spend time with his work. Get lost in the blank space and solid stretches of color. Smile at those faces with slight smiles. And if you get a chance to enjoy The Christmas Book, it is a special way to think about “a baby called Jesus who would bring happiness to the world.”
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas Books 2014!