FATHER AND SON
by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Fabian Negrin - Hodder Children's Books, 2007
ages 4 years to grownup / Christmas
Father and Son is a nativity story that invites us into Joseph’s thoughts on that first magical night.
We hear Joseph’s doubts about his own abilities and his wonder at the child who is before him.
He talks about doing all the usual things that fathers do – singing lullabies, reading scriptures, protecting, playing games.
And he wonders how he can ever live up to the task.
This delightfully written book does an especially good job of drawing out a minor character from a well-known story and making the original story even deeper as a result.
While Joseph agonises over raising the Son of God, his anguish is not so very different from every loving father of every mortal child.
The illustrations show Joseph and Jesus playing and learning together as Jesus grows older. They are beautiful – exuberant and celebratory. (The lullaby and birds page is my favourite)
I love the gentleness with which Joseph resolves his dilemma – he decides to offer ‘a helping hand’. There’s an ever so gentle sermon in that line that reminds Christians that they too can offer a helping hand to God.
This is one of my favourite Christmas books – partly because it reminds me of the miracle of Christmas, partly because it's words are beautiful to read and it's pictures beautiful to look at and partly because it honours the work that fathers do.
It would make a lovely present for a new father, especially one who has a baby born around Christmas time.