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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

On this Special Night

Reviewed: December 20, 2009
By: story by Claire Freedman / art by Simon Mendez
Publisher: Scholastic Books
28 pages, $18.99

On a silent winter’s night Little Kitten and Mother Cat are curled up nice and warm in their barn when a succession of visitors begin to arrive, all in need of a brief rest and perhaps something to eat before pushing on to an appointment they do not want to miss. There’s a donkey, a little lamb, some mice and a calf, all of whom display a real urgency about getting on with their journey.

Finally Little Kitten and Mother Cat follow their guests and, as they go, they spy three men on camels silhouetted against the night sky. And, of course, in a stable not too far from their barn they find all the animals gathered to see the baby which is in the manger under the light of the bright star.

You got this one as soon as you read “silent night” didn’t you?

The story is luminously illustrated with practically photo realistic paintings of the animals by Mendez.

I have narrative problems with any story that has the Three Wise Men arriving on the night Christ was born. The Gospel of Matthew clearly indicates otherwise, hinting at anything from a few months to a couple of years. Nevertheless, the story here is well told and it’s really more about the animals than it is about anything else.

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