Grammy Award-Winning Singer Rebecca St. James Performs and Narrates a Classic Christmas Carol in a New Children’s Book
The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol by Rebecca St. James
Illustrated by Anna Vojtech
Genre: Christian Children’s Picture Book – Christmas
Pages: 32 Hardcover
Date Published: September 25th, 2012
A classic Christmas story that shares the real meaning of the holiday, but told from an unexpected perspective. Included are the music, lyrics, and a CD with two songs performed by award-winning artist Rebecca St. James (The Friendly Beasts & Shine Your Glory Down).
Anna Vojtech’s The Friendly Beasts takes a unique approach to the birth of Christ, combining traditional Christmas song lyrics, eye-catching illustrations, and a focus on the animals that joined Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in the stable on that first Christmas night. As the song lyrics unfold, each animal-a cow, camel, dove, donkey, and sheep-explains what gift they brought to the baby. The holiday message, lyrical themes, and beautiful images created by veteran illustrator Vojtech will keep readers coming back to the book again and again. As an added bonus, the book contains a CD with two songs performed by award-winning artist Rebecca St. James (The Friendly Beasts & Shine Your Glory Down), spoken narration, and some of Rebecca’s favorite Christmas memories. Christ-centered, creative, and memorable for children and adults alike, The Friendly Beasts brings new life to a treasured story. This book is the perfect holiday gift, an attention-grabbing classroom aid, or simply a book to read to children before bedtime, whether at Christmas or any time of the year.
Starting with a sparkly textured cover I’m already excited. As a song that I have loved from my childhood Christmas memories I’m looking forward to sharing this with my girls again and again. I will definitely be wanting to get my hands on a real copy. The illustrations bring the song and story to life and each page provides images worth examining and imagining. I have to say though that I’ve never seen a blonde version of Mary, so that was unique.
The CD has four tracks including Rebecca singing The Friendly Beasts, a bonus track of her song Shine Your Glory Down, and these are followed by an almost three minute piece of Rebecca’s Christmas memories and then lastly a spoken narration of the book/song. It is lovely to listen to and I’m delighted to have experienced it. She has, of course, a lovely voice and does it quite elegant justice.
This would make a fabulous Christmas gift!
*Thanks to Zondervan for providing and ARC for review, including CD.*
“Jesus, our Brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around him stood,
Jesus, our Brother, kind and good.”
Grammy award-winning superstar Rebecca St. James has topped the Christian charts with her number one singles and has reached teens with her numerous bestselling books. Now, she is aiming her powerful voice at children as she brings new life to a beloved Christmas carol on the bonus CD that is part of a stunningly beautiful picture book illustrated by Anna Vojtech.
With singing and narration by St. James, THE FRIENDLY BEASTS (ZONDERKIDZ; $16.99; October 2012) pays charming tribute to the traditional Christmas carol of the same name. Familiar to many, it tells the story of Jesus’ birth from the perspective of five whimsical animals – a cow, a sheep, a camel, a donkey and a dove. The book, with pictures and song lyrics, details how each animal contributed to the nativity by providing, among other items, a wool blanket and hay for a pillow, demonstrating how each of the friendly beasts gave a personal gift from the heart to baby Jesus.
The CD includes four tracks performed by St. James: a musical rendition of The Friendly Beasts, Shine Your Glory Down, Rebecca’s Christmas Memories, and a spoken narration of The Friendly Beasts.
With the book an already adored tale in many homes, St. James has said it holds special meaning to her and she hopes to relay its wonderful message to young readers.
“I really hope kids who listen to this song and read this book can picture and understand what was happening around Jesus when he was born,” said St. James. “It’s such a beautiful scene with Mary, Joseph and the animals surrounding Jesus, celebrating him. Along with the illustrations, I think the song, the words, and the book really give you that visual picture of what it was like when Jesus was born. It’s a very beautiful, very heartwarming sight.”
A holiday book to be cherished, THE FRIENDLY BEASTS illuminates the simple lyrics of this traditional carol through Vojtech’s warm and vibrant illustrations, capturing the essence of the season. Accompanied by St. James’ soothing vocals on CD, this heartwarming story evokes a strong sense of Christmas nostalgia that will resonate with children and create new memories for parents.
Rebecca St. James, an Australian-born Christian recording artist, is both a Grammy Award winner and a multiple Dove Award recipient. She is also the bestselling author of Wait for Me, SHE Teen, and What is He Thinking. In addition, St. James has appeared in the film Sarah’s Choice and lent her voice to VeggieTales’ An Easter Story. www.rsjames.com
Anna Vojtech has illustrated numerous books for children, including folktales and stories about nature. Anna was raised in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) – a magical place for a young girl to grow up. Since 1982 she has lived on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, with her husband and their two sons. www.avojtech.com