Goodnight Manger by Laura Sassi is Laura’s sophomore picture book following her Goodnight Ark. The book is illustrated again by Jane Chapman and the story follows the singsong story rhymes that Goodnight Ark had within it’s pages. This time, it’s baby Jesus who can’t get to sleep. The animals are too noisy and the baby starts to wail. Back and forth the animals try to help Mary and Joseph quiet a squirming, twitching baby. From hay for the baby’s head from the donkey, to feathers from the hen. Just when the baby is quieting down, the heavenly angels start singing their Hosannas, and soon he’s awake again. Goodness all this noise in the stable! Shepherds arrive along with sheep, then come wise men from far and wide, that baby’s sleep will be denied….. Okay, silly rhyme there, but reading the book to write this review had me rhyming myself! Soon Mama Mary suggests a song and all the wise men and shepherds start singing a lullaby that gently lulls baby Jesus to sleep at last.
This picture book is quite similar to Goodnight Ark, which I did a review on. As with the Ark, this book is geared towards children 4-8 in my opinion. Parents can read it to their younger children as a lovely Christmas rhyming story, while older children can use it to learn to read marvelous rhyme. And while I enjoyed the book, I did find a couple of the rhymes a bit discordant with the rhythm, as I would have to turn the page to finish the rhyme and it caused too much of a pause. I felt a little jarred and harder to read than Ark. Along with that, while the pictures of the animals, Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men were right on par with Jane Chapman’s other work, I was severely disappointed with her portrayal of Mary. All my life I have pictured Mary as being this beautiful woman. I figure if God chose her to carry Jesus and have him as her son, she has to be beautiful. And I think there are absolutely stunning Israeli women. Beautiful women. So to have Mary look very plain and worn out was disappointing. Yes, I know she just had a baby, but well, it doesn’t matter about that aspect when illustrating a book. I would have preferred her to look prettier. That is just my opinion.
All that being said, this is a lovely rhyme book again. I think it would be a marvelous story to read young children during the month of December to prepare for Christmas. It’s sweet and charming enough that I could see children learning the whole rhyme to recite. I would definitely give it 4 out of 5 stars. A little less than Goodnight Ark due to the illustrations and the jarring rhyme. But all in all a very good book
This book was provided to me free of charge for my honest opinion by HarperCollins Christian Publishing. I have in no way been compensated for my opinions.