In this light-hearted tale, 8-year-old Jamie learns that it’s more important to give than receive as she journeys back in time to Bethlehem with a bumbling old angel named Gabriel.
Every Christmas, Jamie watches her dad transform the house with angel figures. He even tapes cutouts of angels opposite the toilet. Then he belts out Handel’s Messiah and quizzes Jamie and big sister Lindsey about Jesus’ birth. Jamie and Lindsey play along, but what they really want is to open a present early. Jamie especially desires a gift that’s good enough to tell kids at school about.
But this Christmas Eve, Dad surprises her instead with a tattered wooden angel from his childhood. That night, the angel Gabriel comes to life and grants her a wish to witness the first Christmas. But as he leads her to Bethlehem, he accidentally drops her in the desert, where she meets a wise man and is cornered by a shepherd’s dog. Just as the dog lunges, Gabriel sweeps Jamie away to the manger, where she learns the best gift is something she gives, not gets.
Though young readers may be stumped by vague references to famous people such as Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon in the story, they’ll also be sure to laugh. For example, as Gabriel pushes through a crowd of angels, he says, “Excuse me, pardon me,” and, “Hey, down in front! No flapping!” Author Dick Morgan creates colorful characters. Jamie is a “string of a girl” with a ponytail that’s wet at the tip because she nibbles on it. Gabriel smokes cigars and grows feathers out of his nostrils when he makes mistakes.
Illustrated with basic ink drawings, this is an amusing story with an important lesson about caring for others. Though the story is built around Christian beliefs, Morgan’s levity is sure to make it appealing to children of other faiths as well.
(Note: In one odd misstep, the author uses bolded words somewhat randomly throughout the text.)
Also available in hardcover and ebook.