Published by B&H Publishing, B&H Kids on September 28, 2021
Genres: Children's, Bible Stories, Christmas
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The Christmas Quest invites readers, ages 2-6, to accompany the wise men on an epic treasure hunt as they follow the star in search of the King of the Jews. True to the historical realities of the time period, there are bandits, beasts, and bugs to brave, scorching sandstorms to weather, and an evil king to encounter. Yet, the long and arduous journey is worth it because the star leads the wise men to the greatest treasure ever—Jesus!
The Christmas Quest is a fast-paced, rhyming board book that reminds children Jesus is the King who draws all people to Himself, both at Christmastime and all year long!
This vibrantly illustrated board book by Janet Surette tells the story of the wise men’s quest to follow the star to Bethlehem. It focuses on different elements of their journey, emphasizing the sense of excitement and wonder that the wise men would have experienced. However, the book leaves out some important parts of the Nativity story, spending time on realistic but imagined elements of the trip while glossing over Herod’s role in the narrative. As a child, it fascinated me how the wise men received word in a dream that they should not go back and tell Herod where the child was, and should go home another way, but that plot detail is missing here.
I certainly wouldn’t expect a board book to address Herod’s violence, but because The Christmas Quest introduces him as a suspicious character, saying that he is “not too happy” with the wise men asking around and hopes that they’ll report back if they find the new king, it is strange that the story never resolves this plot thread. The book ends by showing how the wise men met Jesus and his family in their home, and concludes with the message that even though they had been far away, Christ had brought them near.
The Christmas Quest emphasizes that Jesus draws people to himself, no matter where they are from or how they hear of him. The book has a nice message, rhyming text, and terrific illustrations, and despite my concern about the omission of a significant story detail, I enjoyed the book. The illustrations vividly depict the wise men, the desert environment that they travel through, and their commitment to finding the new king they had seen word of in Hebrew prophecies. The book honors their commitment and faith, and the rhyming text will be fun for families to read aloud together. This is a good Christmas book for kids, even though it is missing some context and does not tell the full story.