Away in a Stable
by Nancy Bromley
Trafford Publishing

"The light from the angels flooded in. 'It's time for the miracle to now begin!'"

There's a saying about necessity being the mother of invention. While searching for a book to help her students with their early reading skills, kindergarten teacher Nancy Bromley also hoped to find a work that would double as theatrical inspiration for a Holiday Concert. When nothing seemed to fit the bill, Bromley decided to enlist her own creative talents. The result, Away In A Stable is a fun rendition of the classic Christmas Story that relates the tale of Jesus' birth. In this version, readers encounter a sheep with sweeping lashes, a cow, a pig, shepherds, kings, and an expectant couple anticipating the miracle of birth. The ultimate reveal is in a little wooden abode atop a worldly globe. Here a cry that emanates in a vibrant visual spray of red and pink hearts is related via the narrative as hearing "God's word."

Illustrator Allison Franke paints a colorful backdrop of midnight sky, crescent moon, and shining stars. Each character's entry into the story is often rendered through a large page-filling image. The parade of stable visitors is sweetly initiated by a tiny little mouse with a pink tail. Guests arrive in a collective sequence. In the popular style of "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly," Bromley uses a cumulative rhyming pattern to convey the action. This time-honored formula works well to capture the attention of an intended younger audience.

By keeping this story light and free of heavy religious overtones, the author provides an entertaining version that offers accessibility to children of varying faiths and beliefs. Heart shapes sprinkled amidst the pages of the book seem an artful symbol of the gestures of love and kindness featured throughout this tale. Bromley's special adaptation highlights the positive values that surround this historic birth in a manger. It's a delightful literary invention with gentle, universal appeal.

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