Children's Book Review: A Donkey's First Christmas
Manger scenes, Mary and Joseph, Baby Jesus...there are many books out there telling the story of the First Christmas, but have you ever heard the story from the viewpoint of the DONKEY? The one that carried the pregnant Mary to the stable where she gave birth? I had never read one from this angle until I was priviledged to read The Donkey's First Christmas by Susanne T. Schroder.
The story begins with a quite stubborn donkey who despises work and attempts to get out of it at all costs, including hiding, limping to fake an injury, and braying loudly. He is most successful until a young man appears and requests his services. His owner gladly gives over the donkey, free of charge, to the man. The donkey then sees the load he must carry, a young woman quite pregnant. He begins to once again refuse to work, but the woman is so very kind to him, causing him to straighten, and eventually work hard to help the couple reach their destination, a tiny stable. He falls fatigued to the floor until he hears the sound of a tiny baby. An angel then tells the donkey that his work helped God's son.
The story is written in a sing song verse with simple wording that a young child can understand. What is quite captivating about the book, however, are the simple watercolor pictures that adorn the pages. The pictures are very childlike, but large, colorful, and engaging. The expressions on the face of the donkey are clever.
Of course the most obvious lesson to be taken from the story of The Donkey's First Christmas is the story of Jesus born in a stable to Mary and Joseph. Aside from this, however, a child can learn that hard work is important, hard work helps others, and good things happen when you do your best. Children are often resistant to work, and many children try to find the easy way out of doing what is asked or expected of them. This book encourages children, through the story of a stubborn donkey, that hard work pays off.
I read this book to Aubrey, my 5 year old, from a pdf file on the computer which was provided to me by the author. It was difficult to move through the screens while reading to Aubrey and she often asked for me to "go back up" or "go back down" so she could show me something. However, Aubrey stated that she liked the book very much. She very much enjoys books about Bible stories, and she thought this was very funny to hear the story of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus told from the perspective of a donkey. When asked if she liked it, she said that she did. When asked what she liked about it, she said, "The baby". I asked her why, and she said, "You know, it's Baby Jesus". She said she also liked the angel talking to the donkey.
This book, The Donkey's First Christmas, is another "Christmas story" book, but written from a unique perspective, that of the donkey. It is very cute and enjoyable with lessons to be learned for young children. Parents are encouraged to read this book with their children and discuss together what the donkey learns.