Preview: New Christmas Storybook in Progress

Does the world need another Christmas storybook for children? I think so!

The book I’m currently at work on is called, “The True Story of Christmas.” If that title sounds presumptuous to you, I’ll only say that I believe the Bible gives us the true story of the birth of God’s Messiah – an event that we have come to call Christmas. The book I’m working on seeks to recount the story for kids, with as much fidelity to the Judeo-Christian scriptures as possible.

For example, I don’t recall having seen a kids’ Christmas storybook where the Magi show up in Bethlehem at Jesus’s house when he is a toddler, as the scriptures tell it.

I’ll explain more about why I think this matters when the book is released. I’m not at all sure I’ll be able to get it done in time for ordering for this Christmas but I’m sure trying!

Survey Update:
A couple of weeks ago I did an informal survey on Facebook around the styling of the characters in the book. I was just about to start painting the first illustration when a thumbnail I had done caught my attention, and I suddenly had second thoughts about the styling I had developed for the characters. So I roughed out a couple of samples in a more elongated styling, posted them side by side, and asked people to vote on their favorites. I asked parents to get their kids’ input as well. There were lots of interesting comments.

Here are the roughs I posted:

illustrated Christmas storybooksSurprisingly, the votes were fairly evenly split, but a significant majority of adults voted for the squattier figures. However, many did so because they felt this styling would appeal more to kids. Interestingly, slightly more kids voted for the elongated figures. However, the very youngest kids did seem to favor the squattier characters.

I promised to post my final decision and the finished version, so, here it is. Thank you all for your input!:

Christian holiday kids books scott freemanOne of the other distinctive aspects about this Christmas book is that it puts the Christmas story in context, and explains the reason why there is a Christmas – the Big Picture. It tells of the nation of Israel and introduces children to Israel’s prophets, and their foretelling of a child who would be born to bring peace to the world. I like the way the illustration of the prophets came out. You might recognize the surrounding symbols from various prophetic biblical passages:

prophets watercolor storybooks bibleAnd now, I need to get back to work if I’m going to get this done in time for Christmas! I’ll keep you posted…

(If you haven’t already done so, please join my email list so that I can notify you of new book releases, and send you an occasional deep thought! You can sign up HERE.)

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11 comments on “Preview: New Christmas Storybook in Progress

  1. Tonia W. says:

    I just read your post from 2013 regarding your experiences at Hallmark as an artist. I love and collect vintage greeting cards, especially Christmas, and the Hallmarks are among the finest. It makes me really happy to know that this important greeting card was such a wonderful place to work. I will smile every time I look at a Hallmark now and remember you.

    • Hello Tonia,
      Yes, Hallmark was a great place to work when I was there, and the Hall family was a great supporter of the arts in Kansas City. I’m very happy I had 10 years there.

      I also have a few vintage cards that I get out every year. Thanks for taking time to comment!

  2. If you distort the characters, readers will get the impression that the characters are sad all of the time and will be wondering, “Why the long faces?”

    • As you can see above, I opted not to go with the attenuated figures, although I still like them. The over 100 Facebook comments were really interesting to me. I’ve periodically asked for the public’s opinion on art and design questions, just to see if I’m right about what I think people will like. Responses have never been as one-sided as I expected them to be. ‘Pretty fun to hear why people like what they like.

      • I should have spent more time crafting that joke more effectively. See, “why the long face?” meant, like, “why are you sad?”, but I was kidding because you were drawing the faces longer, so, like — oh, never mind, my jokes stink.

  3. Melodie I. says:

    Nowhere in the Bible are we told to observe Yahshua’s birth. We are told to commemorate His death at Passover & also to observe the Holy Days and the 7th Day Sabbath ih Leviticus 23 however. Peter did, Paul did… and there are people doing this today. Scripture also states that we will be keeping these days – not man’s traditions derived from pagan origin like Easter & Christmas – but YHWH’s Holy Days in the millennium, after Yahshua’s return to earth. 🙂

    • It also doesn’t tell us to wear NIKE sneakers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t. Where the Bible gives explicit prescriptions, we ought to follow them. Where it gives specific proscriptions, we ought to abstain. But where it is silent on an issue (whether explicitly or implicitly), there’s no reason at all to believe we’re prohibited from engaging in some practice, as long as we’re not arbitrarily imposing it as if it were a Biblical imperative. So, with respect to celebrating Jesus’ birthday or the resurrection, while no one is required to do so, we’re also not prohibited from doing so.

      Regarding the 7th day sabbath, that’s not a command imposed on Christians and, in fact, Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our sabbath, so that we now rest in Him from our work in attempting to keep the law.

    • Hi Melodie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I happen to be a Hebrew Roots guy and am very sympathetic to the position of certain Messianic Jewish people. You can see a couple of my posts on the topic here:
      https://artandlifenotes.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/what-easter-has-to-do-with-separating-christians-and-jews/

      and here:
      https://artandlifenotes.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/art-church-history-the-uncut-version/

      Having said that, I am not Jewish. I agree that there is much in Church history that is extra-biblical and less than perfect. One approach to dealing with these “errors” is to separate oneself from identifying with the “Christian Church.” I think this approach is incorrect. I have spent a fair amount of time educating the Church about the feasts and the Hebrew roots of our faith. I have found a VERY receptive and excited audience because I don’t judge people for being ignorant. I’ve found that the people of God generally like to hear the truth. These things are new to most gentile believers. We live in a unique time when these can finally be openly discussed without anyone fearing religious persecution. This is all quite exciting to me.

      Furthermore, I know better than to think that millions of followers of Jesus around the world who passionately love YHWH are accidentally displeasing Him by celebrating the birth and resurrection on Jesus on what are technically the “wrong” days. How silly. Would it be better for the gentile church to connect the dots as the apostles did? Absolutely. But we are all at different places of understanding. Meanwhile, the majority of Jewish people celebrate the biblical feasts in either ignorance, or actual animus toward their fulfilled meanings. Even within the Messianic movement, there is are serious errors being propagated. The bottom line is, no group has it all right. I suggest you read Romans ch 14 and take it to heart.

      Regarding my book, if I can get thousands of gentile evangelical, (or Jewish,) children to read a storybook called “The True Story of Christmas,” wherein the role the Torah, Israel, and the prophets is given their proper place in the story of the birth of the Messiah, isn’t that a good thing?
      If you think this would be a bad thing I would be fascinated to hear your reasoning.

      Love rules – peace to you.

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