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Voices of Christmas

Voices of Christmas

5.0 1
by Nikki Grimes, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)

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Gabriel “paced the halls of heaven” as he memorized God’s message to Mary. He wondered what she would say.The Christmas story unfolds, as never before, through the voices of those who witnessed the Messiah’s birth. Listen to Joseph’s struggle. Rejoice with Elizabeth and Zachariah. Worship with the magi. Hear the fear in Herod’s


Gabriel “paced the halls of heaven” as he memorized God’s message to Mary. He wondered what she would say.The Christmas story unfolds, as never before, through the voices of those who witnessed the Messiah’s birth. Listen to Joseph’s struggle. Rejoice with Elizabeth and Zachariah. Worship with the magi. Hear the fear in Herod’s voice. Receive the blessing of Simeon and Anna. And, like the shepherds, shout for joy!

Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book Magazine
Grimes brings her lyrical style---and a compassionate, human-centered tone---to the Nativity story. Each double-page spread comprises three parts: a character’s portrait is vividly rendered; a biblical passage establishes the current segment of the overarching narrative; and a poem offers readers entrance to the story through the eyes of the spotlighted character, from Gabriel to Mary to Herod to the innkeeper. The monologues are sparely poetic, emphasizing the humanity of each iconic figure: after being told that she will deliver the child of God, Mary is “rooted to this dirt floor, / dizzy with wonder, / pinching my wrist, / waiting to wake / from this dream.” The text is unabashedly spiritual; the book design is sumptuous, with its gold typeface and endpapers; the paintings are dramatically composed, alternately dark and luminous (or sometimes both). Together, they make a familiar story seem newly resonant.
Publishers Weekly
Grimes's stirring verse recounts the Messiah's birth through several first-person perspectives (a shepherd, an innkeeper, Herod). After she is visited by Gabriel, Mary laments, “Now I, alone, remain/ rooted to this dirt floor, dizzy with wonder,/ pinching my wrist,/ waiting to wake/ from this dream.” On the following page, Joseph wonders, “How could I marry a girl/ who is having someone else's baby?” Velasquez offers muted, atmospheric paintings, many seemingly lit by a distant, silvery guiding light. A lyrical, wide-focus meditation on the impact of a singular event. A CD with a reading of the story is included. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5–Grimes presents 14 poems, each preceded by a Bible verse, telling the story of the Nativity through the voices of Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, the innkeeper, Herod, and so on. The poems, mostly unrhymed free verse, use simple language and a rolling rhythm that makes them a pleasure to read aloud. Gaspar, one of the Wise Men, begins his verse with “All those years of poring over/charts and scrolls on astronomy,/then suddenly, it was as if/the Morning Star/leapt from the page/and rose into the sky.” The realistic paintings, rendered in muted nighttime shades of blue, gray, brown, and yellow, depict intense people in the midst of a momentous event, their glowing faces bowed in reverence or raised to the heavens. This lovely and heartfelt book adds a deeper perspective to the oft-told story and will enhance most holiday collections.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Grimes uses her talent as a poet to retell the Nativity story from several different viewpoints, each one a distinct voice with its own style. Fourteen poems in free verse convey the story, from the announcement of the impending birth by the angel Gabriel to the final poem directed to readers. The attractive design includes a double-page spread for each character, with a short Bible verse and the poem set in gold type against dark backgrounds and the illustration of the character attractively integrated into the spread. Each character is a real person with his or her own concerns and fears, and the whole of the Nativity story is conveyed through the sum of their individual stories. Velasquez's striking, dramatic illustrations add to the personality of the characters, who are clearly of Middle Eastern ethnicity. (CD) (Picture book/religion. 6 & up)

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt

Voices of Christmas

By Nikki Grimes


Copyright © 2009 Nikki Grimes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-71192-6

Chapter One


In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin.

Hush! The hour is late. Nazareth lies sleeping, and I wait for my Lord's signal to once again go to earth below. When last I went, my words were for Zechariah. Now, I pace the halls of heaven memorizing a message for Mary. (Every archangel I see envies me!) I must get the message right: The Light of the World is on his way! What will Mary say when I tell her? I wonder what he'll look like, God wrapped in baby's skin, stepping from Eternity into Time? How will he hide his glory? How will he hold it all in? Ah! There! The bells chime and I must go. And so I spread my wings, and spring from heaven's balcony.


In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Who could forget it? The sky a cloak of velvet stitched with stars, we shepherds studied the heavens while our sweet sheep rested safe in the pen we'd built of whatever rocks we could find. And there I was leaning against a tree cradlingMoriah, a wee lamb tuckered out from wandering off again. My feet burned from the chase. Then suddenly the sky blazed with the light of an angel. "Be not afraid," he said. "To you is born this day a Savior, the Messiah." Moriah stirred at this voice like thunder. I wondered, Why come to us? We are not priests. But then, I remembered King David, how God drew near to him who once was a shepherd too. "You will find the child lying in a manger," the angel said. We fled from the hills to search for this wonder, this holy child. You ask if we found him. What? Did you not hear us shout for joy?


Excerpted from Voices of Christmas by Nikki Grimes Copyright © 2009 by Nikki Grimes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin's Notebook, Talkin' About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings. Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Ms. Grimes lives in California.

Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem in New York City. As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of movies. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, "Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else."

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Voices of Christmas 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Caml More than 1 year ago
This book is written for children but it is delightfully adult as well. Ms Grimes takes actually Bible characters and lets them tell the Christmas story. Eric Valasquez's illustrations are beautiful and fit the story perfectly. I bought two copies; one for myself and one to give away.