(LifeSiteNews) — It’s difficult to find wholesome content for children these days. Woke librarians and the Disney Channel are doing everything they can to indoctrinate kids with leftist propaganda. But a new book released by Scott Hahn’s Emmaus Road Publishing provides parents with a truly Christian book that’s perfect for the Christmas, as well as Easter, season.
Patrick O’Hearn is an acquisitions editor at TAN Books. He’s also an accomplished author. One of his books I’ve personally enjoyed is The Parents of the Saints: The Hidden Heroes Behind Our Favorite Saints. His latest production — written primarily for children — is called The Shepherd at the Crib and the Cross, which was published in October.
This refreshing tale is at once desperately needed yet professionally done. O’Hearn’s book comes in at a readable 56 pages, with an average of 3-5 paragraphs on every other page. It’s 11 x 8.5 inches in size and is composed mostly of illustrations. “The layout for the book was inspired by the Polar Express,” O’Hearn told me via email. Michael Corsini is the artist who created the images for the book (visit his website here). He has created some truly vivid scenes that bring O’Hearn’s story to life.
The book follows the life of shepherd boy Nissim. O’Hearn picked the name Nissim because it’s Hebrew meaning is “miracle” or “wonder.” Nissim’s father shares with him the words of the prophet Micah about the coming of the Messiah. Nissim prays he’ll one day meet this Savior. Eventually, his prayers are answered. An angel appears before him and instructs him to visit Christ’s birthplace. Upon arrival, Mary and Joseph invite Nissim to hold the baby Jesus. Nissim returns home and decides he wants to give Jesus his favorite blanket as a gift. But when he returns to the manger the next day, the Holy Family is nowhere to be found. He promises to one day give the blanket to Jesus.
Nissim eventually gets married and has children of his own — Joseph, Myriam, and Joshua. Nissim hears about Jesus performing miracles, but when he goes to Jerusalem for the Passover, he sees Christ carrying His cross. He is deeply saddened and attempts to help Jesus but is prevented from doing so by a Roman soldier. After Christ’s death, Nissim gives Mary the blanket he intended to gift to Christ after His birth when he was a young boy.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book for two reasons. One is to help our children (and even adults) see the mysteries of Our Lord’s life with a new sense of wonder and awe, through the eyes of one shepherd boy, Nissim. We often become too familiar with the birth and death of Christ. But what would it look like to hold Our Lord at Bethlehem or to stand by Him at Calvary? Nissim, a fictional character like Ben Huhr, reveals the longing in every heart to meet the Messiah.
The second reason I wrote this book is to counter the various woke children’s books and the secular takeover of our Catholic holidays. Our public libraries and schools are being filled with books that have a clear agenda: the promotion of radical, anti-Christian ideologies. When Amazon’s number one bestseller for children’s Christmas books was a Disney book, I felt the Lord nudge me to write this book. It’s time to reclaim our sacred feast days!
What was the process like writing this book? The illustrations are quite stunning!
Since this was my first children’s book, the process was a great learning experience. Initially, I had two books in mind: one for the Nativity and one for the Passion/Resurrection. But I really wanted to give my readers a story that comes full circle. I also rewrote the conclusion for that very reason. I also went back and forth a lot with the illustrator, Michael Corsini, to make sure the illustrations captured the heart of every page. Michael Corsini is a very gifted Catholic illustrator and friend. Inspired by the Polar Express’s full spread artwork and layout, I asked Michael to create a similar feel with this book. Many of the illustrations will remind you of the great movie The Passion of Christ. When you read this book, it is as if you are entering into that movie with the addition of the Nativity Story.
What is it you want / hope children will take away from this book?
I hope that our children will see not only how much God loves them but how much He desires their love. Many of our children know that Christmas is about Christ’s Incarnation, but in the midst of receiving presents, our children often forget to give Our Lord a gift. The main character Nissim offers a reminder to both our children and even adults that we ought to give God something special as well. What are we going to give Christ this Christmas? I also pray that this book inspires our children to boldly share Our Lord’s love to all they meet.
What do you think parents will enjoy the most from reading this book?
I think it is a unique story that connects both Christmas and Easter. The book contains four prayers at the back for the Liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter that can really help our children prepare for our holy days.
Anything else you’d like to share?
This book can be read at any time of the year; however, it takes on special importance during the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. In this Advent season, this book reveals the importance of being vigilant.