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Betty Vertin reviews a new children's book by Jennifer Sharpe that emphasizes the connection between the birth of Jesus and the Eucharist.

The Mass and the Manger: My Interactive Christmas Story is a fun and meaningful new children’s book the whole family can enjoy. It tells the story of the first Christmas and then, using interactive full-page flaps, reveals the story of two young children, a brother and sister, who receive Jesus through the Eucharist at midnight Mass. The young siblings discover connections between the birth of Jesus and Mass that the young readers in your life will surely make as well. 


The Mass and the Manger-Ascension


As a mother to seven, I first read the book by myself and immediately knew kids would like it. This book is geared towards children ages six to 10. However, when I read it out loud to my youngest, 22 months, pointing out the things she would recognize in the illustrations and showed her the baby, Jesus, I noticed that several of my other children in the room were listening and were drawn into the remarkable story. Their ages ranged from 22 months to 18 years old.  The book has a message for all ages, proclaiming:

That first Christmas, long ago, not so different from, now, you know! Jesus comes to us still now!


It will hold a special place for children who have recently or will soon receive their first Communion. Several times in the book, we are reminded that we get to hold Jesus in our hearts through the Eucharist just as Mary and Joseph held him close on that first Christmas.  

My 9-year-old daughter, Mary, who received her first Communion a few months ago, loved the simple, rhyming language used by author Jennifer Sharpe and said she learned things about the Mass she didn't know or remember. The Christmas story is already one of her favorites because of her name, but she especially liked the illustrations.   

I have to agree; the illustrations by Gina Capaldi look like beautiful paintings that could be framed and hung in your home, especially those of the first Christmas. In a world where children are saturated with toy commercials and Santa Claus, it is refreshing to see beautiful pictures of the Holy Family, the Nativity, and the Mass intended for them. 

The Mass and the Manger: My Interactive Christmas Story belongs in every Christmas library. This book will find a place in our family Christmas Eve tradition as well. We will read it each Christmas Eve before Mass, and my younger children can bring it to Mass and follow along. 

I highly recommend this book for the children in your lives. 

Ask for The Mass and the Manger: My Interactive Christmas Story at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Ascension Press.



Copyright 2023 Betty Vertin
Images: Canva