About the Holiday
Traditionally, the holidays are a time for special choir performances, plays, and orchestra and band concerts that can be exciting – or a little nerve-wracking – for kids. For parents and caregivers, these performances bring pride and even a tear or two. While this year holiday celebrations may be different, kids and adults are still finding ways to use their talents to make Christmas fun. Reading holiday stories together is one of the best ways to share favorite traditions.
The Star in the Christmas Play
Written by Lynne Marie | Illustrated by Lorna Hussey
While Raffi usually ran to savannah school, today “he dragged his hooves.” When his mother asked what was wrong, he told her that he worried he was too big to get a part in the Christmas play. His mother reassured him that he was “just the right size” and that someday he would appreciate being so tall. When Raffi got to school, all of his classmates were in line for auditions, and they all knew exactly what part they wanted to play.
Raffi felt downhearted—he “could never be a star,” he thought. When his turn came to audition, everyone told him he’d done an excellent job of reading Joseph’s part. Perked up, Raffi galloped home to tell his mother that maybe he could be a star after all. She gave him a nuzzle and said, “‘You’re my star.’” In the morning Raffi raced to school, eager to find out who got which parts. As Mrs. Ostrich read off the names and their parts, Raffi listened for his name. The parts of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the wisemen and shepherds, and the animals all went to his friends. Raffi watched sadly as they celebrated their parts. He wished he could go home.
Just then Mrs. Ostrich said his name and added, “‘I’ve not yet assigned your role….’” Raffi whispered his fear to his teacher, and she agreed that he was too big to play some parts. Still, she said, they would think of something. Raffi gazed at the stage, hoping he could be up there too.
Then he remembered what his mother had told him and he had an idea. He quietly shared it with Mrs. Ostrich. She thought it was wonderful. On the day of the play, all the little animals took their places behind the curtain as their parents found seats on the benches. When the curtain rose, Raffi knelt near the manger. A large, shining star surrounded his head. “Raffi beamed.” He was a star-—the star who guided the wise men and the shepherds to find the baby Jesus in the stable.
Lynne Marie’s sweet story of a little giraffe trying to find his place is endearing through and through. Children will empathize with his wish to be included in the Christmas play and his worries about his size. Raffi’s loving mother offers encouragement and snuggles, and their trusting relationship in which Raffi feels comfortable revealing his doubts is a highlight of the story. By allowing Raffi to create an important part for himself, Marie also empowers readers to find their own perseverance, creativity, and voice. Raffi’s beaming smile as he sits straight and tall while playing the Christmas star, shows children that they should always be proud of who they are and their important role in the world. Marie includes many opportunities for kids and adults to discuss various emotions and aspects of friendship—from celebrating others’ accomplishments to feeling left out of the fun—making the book an excellent choice at any time of the year.
Lorna Hussey’s savannah animal children are adorable as they demonstrate why they’d be perfect for their preferred roles in the play. Kids will enjoy studying the clues and guessing which part each animal wants to play. Contrasting their exuberance with Raffi’s bent neck, droopy ears, and sad expression, readers can clearly see how Raffi’s worries weigh on him. The tender love between sunny-spotted Raffi and his mother will touch readers. The final spread of the Nativity play is lovely and uplifting, and children will love lingering over this page to point out all the details.
A heartening and layered story for Christmas and throughout the year, The Star in the Christmas Play is highly recommended for making every child feel like the star they are. The book would be charming addition to home, school, and public library collections.
Ages 4 – 8
Beaming Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1506438139
Discover more about Lynne Marie and her books on her website.
A Chat with Lynne Marie
Lynne Marie is the author of Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World, illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019); Moldilocks and the 3 Scares, illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, 2019); The Star in the Christmas Play, illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018); Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten, illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011); and Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School, illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, 2017). Her stories, poems, and folk tales have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug, and more.
Hi, Lynne! I’m excited to have the chance to talk with you a little about Lorna Hussey’s adorable art. Lorna adds such a sweet dimension to your story, and Raffi will melt readers’ hearts. How did you two get together to create this moving, family story?
I absolutely LOVED Lorna Hussey’s art in my second picture book, Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School. But for some reason, I didn’t have anyone in mind for this book. Then, when Beaming Books editor Naomi Krueger said I could offer up a list of illustrators whose styles I would like them to consider, I posted an open call on my Facebook Page for Illustrator friends to hit me up with their African Animals. People quickly posted samples, including Lorna, who posted a picture of a Lion, and I knew right away she was the one, without any doubts!
Beaming Books loved her work too, and she was offered a contract. However, she didn’t know it because her Agent was on holiday for three weeks. When the Agent returned, everything came to light, but due to no response, Beaming Books had offered the contract to another artist. Lorna and I fought very hard to win back the contract under the extenuating circumstances and we won!
I am so totally *over-the-moon* pleased with how the book turned out and have just hung some of the original art from both books in my office! Lorna also provided pictures for me to use as a Christmas postcard and a Christmas card!
I am honestly trying very hard to find another project to work with Lorna on! She’s so talented and such a kind soul!
What a wonderful story! I’m glad – I’m sure readers are too – that Lorna found her place on your creative team! I wish you all the best with The Star in the Christmas Play and all of your books!
You can discover more about Lynne’s inspiration for her story, what she’d like children to learn from it, and a favorite family Christmas tradition, read an interview with Carolyn Bedford on the Beaming Books website.
Get Ready for Christmas! Activity
Tell the Good News! Word Search Puzzle
Find the sixteen words about the first Christmas in this printable Tell the Good News word search puzzle.
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