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B IS FOR BETHLEHEM

Written by Isabel Wilner, Illustrated by Eisa Kleven
Dutton, 1990

New edition published by Ideals, 2015

Joyful collage illustrations and graceful rhyming couplets highlight special Christmas words, in alphabetical order, to tell the story of the Nativity. Fun to memorize, the verses as well as the book itself will be treasured holiday after holiday. 

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News and reviews:

"Alphabet books that tell a story sometimes have an artificial feel to them--they seem desperate to fit the tale into the A-Z scheme... but this version of the Christmas story works: "G is for Glory, so splendid so near. / It shines round the shepherds and fills them with fear." Then there is the art...such unique and appealing pictures. Kleven offers mixed-media collage using watercolor, cut paper, and drawings, giving her artwork a radiant, folkloric look. Young readers will respond to the childlike feel of the pictures, while adults will applaud the skill it took to create them. The whole book is, in fact, handsomely designed. Each page contains picture and text, separately boxed and set against gloriously colored pages shot with starlight. Wilner first wrote the piece for second graders to perform. Though it certainly could be used in this manner, the book seems a natural in its present, lovely form."

--starred, Booklist

"Originally written for second graders to perform, this rhyming alphabet introduces events, people, animals, and words associated with Christmas... Each couplet can be easily memorized by seven or eight year olds and would make a unique program; however, it would be a shame to miss the brightly colored, richly textured illustrations."  

-- School Library Journal

 

“This wonderfully disciplined text uses an alphabet of rhymed couplets to tell the story of the Nativity. The ebullient, richly detailed illustrations incorporate a variety of techniques.” 
-- New York Times

 

"Kleven's stylized illustrations, in bright, tender colors, burgeon with joy and decorative detail. An attractive addition to the Holiday Canon."

--Kirkus