I received as a Christmas gift, from my oldest friend in the world and her family, Frank McCourt's first children's book, Angela and the Baby Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 32 pages, $17.99, ages 5-10), which came out last month.
You might recall Angela from McCourt's best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela's Ashes. Angela was McCourt's mother, and he digs way into her past for this lovely new story...
"When my mother, Angela, was six years old, she felt sorry for the Baby Jesus in the Christmas crib at St. Joseph's Church near School House Lane where she lived."
Thus begins a tale of a little girl's determination. Angela feels sorry for Baby Jesus because while everyone else in the manger is clothed and cloaked, he is pretty much naked with nothing covering him. She figures he's cold and decides to bring him home one day to warm him up.
Angela goes to great lengths to get him home, even throwing him over a fence — with his blessing! When she does get him home, Angela tucks him into her bed and goes about her business. Eventually she gets busted — thanks to older brother Pat — and the family brings Baby Jesus back to church.
It's a poignant story, peppered with McCourt's Irish-isms and lushly illustrated by Raul Colon. If you know any kids who celebrate Jesus' birth this time of year, Angela and the Baby Jesus would make a nice addition to their library.
P.S. Thanks Maggie and Jack!