One Night by Penny Matthews, illustrated by Stephen Michael King (Omnibus Books)
HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Every Christmas Eve in many farmyards, animals come together to remember a very special night a long, long time ago.
One Night is a beautiful Christmas story told from the point of view of the animals who helped, supported and gathered around the manger the night Jesus was born.
‘The horses gave up their stall for her,’ says an old draught horse. ‘They stood on guard outside the stable door.’
It is lovely and soft in both words and pictures, the water colour illustrations instantly recognisable in Stephen Michael King’s unique style. The pictures show the animals in their surrounds and echo the calm atmosphere of the text. Words tell the story in simple language, making it feel very intimate, as if the reader were standing behind the barn door listening to the animals. ‘And if you go into a farmyard on Christmas Eve, at that magical moment just before midnight, perhaps you will hear them talking.’
This is a beautiful, gentle Christmas story for the very young without a hint of the materialism which weaves its way into many of the Christmas stories now. Preschool children will respond to and easily engage with the animals and their special duties. One Night is a perfect picture book to add to the Christmas reading list.