Book Review: Sarah’s Two Nativities, by Janine M Fraser & Hélène Magisson

A heartwarming celebration of Christmas, family and faith, teaching us to listen and learn, from two of Australia’s finest picture book creators.

By
A lovely book celebrating the similarities in the stories of two faiths.
Overall
4.5

Janine M Fraser is a children’s author and poet who lives on Phillip Island in Victoria for most of the year. The majority of books she has published reflect her love of travel and deal with multicultural themes.

HélèneMagisson began her artistic endeavours as a painting restorer in Paris. She has lived all over the world, but now calls Australia home. As an illustrator of books, she is best known for the book The Velveteen Rabbit.

Their collaboration in Sarah’s Two Nativities reflects their love of all things multicultural.

Sarah has two grandmothers who she loves dearly. There is Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. When Grandmother Azar comes to visit, she cooks feasts with Sarah and tells her stories form the Holy Koran. Grandmother Maria makes cupcakes and tells stories from the Bible. Both books sit side by side on the bookshelf in Sarah’s house. Sarah loves all the stories her grandmothers tell her, but mostly she loves the stories about the nativities.

This is a heart-warming story about family and love, and the blending together of two cultures. As our world becomes smaller and travel more frequent, marriages between people of different faiths is becoming more common. This book tells us that it is possible to live in harmony despite our differences. Sarah doesn’t need to choose between the different sides of her family. She can enjoy the love and culture of both. She also discovers there are more similarities than differences, and it is more important to celebrate these similarities.

Adding to the text are beautiful water colour illustrations full of warmth and love.

Sarah’s Two Nativities has a timely release, ready for Christmas. It is a story that will help children understand that there are many different customs and beliefs, but listening and taking time to understand people’s differences will help us find the things we have in common. It is so very important. In a world where we have more and more distrust for those we see as threatening our way of life, it helps us realise that we are all able to live together if we just listen to each other’s stories.

This is a story suitable for children aged 4 and above. It would be a great catalyst for a good discussion in a classroom, especially in a world where teachers need to be careful to be inclusive of different faiths.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: September 2019
RRP: $26.99

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