My New Kids’ Book: The True Story of Christmas

Blg full spread

After 30 years of marriage and raising 5 kids together, Mollie and I have accumulated a beloved little collection of illustrated Christmas storybooks. When I worked at Hallmark Cards, the Creative Library there would bring in some of the best Christmas books on the market, and I ordered a few of my favorites for my kids (and for Mollie and myself!)

Some we bought for the great artwork, some we bought for the story. The best ones combined both. An important part of our Christmas season included slowing down, snuggling up, and reading Christmas stories to the kids in the evenings in December.

But I could never find a book like the one I’m making available to you and your family today.

Special care has been taken in The True Story of Christmas to remain as true to the biblical narrative as possible while still keeping the story accessible and engaging for children. The book seeks to reinforce the biblical narrative rather than the extra-biblical traditions that have grown up around the Christmas story.

For example, the scriptures do not say that a blazing star led the Magi to the manger in Bethlehem. (The Magi arrived in Jerusalem, where Herod eventually sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child. Bethlehem was just a few miles down the main road.) The scriptures also indicate that the Magi visited Jesus as a toddler in a house in Bethlehem, not in a stable on the night He was born.

Magi wisemen house gold frankincense myrrh

The Magi visiting Jesus in Bethlehem, from The True Story of Christmas.

While these details may or may not be significant, to me it seems best to be in accord with the scriptures regardless of how harmless such extra-biblical traditions may seem. Learning the true narrative at a young age will help to keep faith in the reliability of the Bible intact when such extra-biblical traditions, (and there are many,) are debunked later in a child’s life. The biblical narrative stands up to scrutiny – the extra-biblical traditions do not.

Perhaps more importantly, The True Story of Christmas gives the big picture context of the birth of Jesus according to the Bible.

The true story of Christmas begins at the very beginning, when God created the world. God is good, and everything He made was good. In the beginning the whole world was filled with God’s goodness and light…” (pg 1)

The book begins with God’s perfect creation, followed by the tragic consequences of the fall of humanity – the reason we are all in need of a Savior in the first place. After Noah’s flood, God’s restorative plan begins with His choosing of Abraham and the people of Israel. Kids are introduced to Israel’s prophets and their foretelling of a special child who would be born to Israel to set up a good and eternal kingdom. The Christmas story is the beginning of the fulfillment of this long-anticipated promise.

Following are some of the book’s illustrations and copy:

old testament jewish prophets messiah malachi

“The very last prophet to speak of the promised Messiah was named Malachi. After Malachi there were no more prophets at all in the land of Israel until it was time for the Messiah to be born. Israel had to wait 400 years after Malachi for God’s promises to come true. That is a very long time! But then, it finally happened!”…

Here’s an example of how the type appears on the page:

first christmas stable manger bethlehem swaddling clothes

To Order:
The True Story of Christmas is now ready to order, but PLEASE NOTE: Order by Dec 3rd to ensure that your order arrives in time for Christmas. The True Story of Christmas is not available in stores. You can only get it on my website! (And on Amazon, but I don’t tell people that because I want them to go to my website and sign up on my email list.)

To order now CLICK THIS LINK

Holy family warned in a dream egypt massacre of innocents

The flight to Egypt, from The True Story of Christmas

Thank you so much for your support!
May you and your family have a joyous Christmas season!

Special thanks to my 3 favorite teaching pastors – John Meyer, Pat Sokoll, and Jonathan Williams – for consulting with me on this book.
All images copyright Scott Freeman, 2015

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11 comments on “My New Kids’ Book: The True Story of Christmas

  1. Reblogged this on Mollie Walker Freeman and commented:
    This is a post about my artist-husband’s new book. Scott is an extraordinary painter, but he is also an author/storyteller. Enjoy!

  2. Wow, that’s a really beautiful book – I’ll definitely order it!

    Incidentally, my wife and I were already accumulating quite a collection of children’s books even before we had any of our four children (many of them I got simply for the artwork while my wife tends to get them for the stories). Children’s books are a great way to collect beautiful artwork.

    • Thanks Frank. Who would you say are you favorite kids’ book illustrators? My all time fav might be Carter Goodrich. In terms of the total package Chris Van Allsburg might be my favorite. His drawing kind of annoys me sometimes, but his sense of light and composition is so cool that it more than makes up for it. I also love some of his stories, (Wreck of the Zephyr, Polar Express,) even though some of them seem more for adults than for kids. I like quirklier guys(?) like Lane Smith too.

      • I don’t know if I have a favorite – there are too many great artists to narrow it down. Carter Goodrich and Peter de Seve are masters of character design. Chris Van Allsburg is really a master of creating a mood. Scott Gustafson is just great all around. I also really dig John Bauer, Gustaf Tenggren, Brian Fround, Hermann Vogel, Arther Rackham, Johhny Gruelle, Harrison Caddy, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Ann Anderson, Charles Kingsley, Edmund Dulac, Tony DiTerlizzi, and one of my all time favorites is William Joyce (not so much for his drawing ability as for his ability to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and sense of imagination). I’m sure there are many more I forgot to mention, but again, that’s why I don’t really have a favorite. I like too many artists to ever have a favorite.

  3. Rod Lampard says:

    Looks and sounds great, Scott. {two thumbs up}

  4. Just out of curiosity, is the art done all digital or do you still use traditional media? I’m only asking because, prior to getting a Cintiq, I was still doing my drawings on paper and scanning them before digitally painting them. But I see some artists still doing a basic painting and then digitally finishing their work. While it’s harder to do major edits that way, I like the look of mixing media. The only reason I don’t do it that way is because I’m sometimes asked to do edits that would otherwise require starting over if done in traditional media. Clients have become accustomed to getting anything they want now that they expect artists are all working digitally and can make nearly any kind of edit.

    • Well, I had to Google Cintiq to find out what that was, so that should tell you something. I still have only a mouse, (or my finger – no pen.) I majored in fine art painting, so I’m perhaps bent more toward being a purist when it comes to painting. For my kids’ book art I pretty much do full paintings, and then clean them up and adjust them in Photoshop. (A more obvious example is the robes of the Magi in this book. I created some Persian patterns and layered them on top of the robes because it would’ve taken ridiculously long to paint them on the original, and wouldn’t have looked as good anyway.) Sometimes I add some atmospheric effects that I can’t figure out how to get with just watercolor. But I’m sticking with traditional painting as a starting point because I still prefer the the way the texture looks. Plus I sometimes sell an original from a book illustration.

      I’m guessing you inhabit a different world than I do. Maybe I’m slightly older than you. (Born 1960.) I learned computer and Photoshop on the job at Hallmark in the 90s when the industry was switching over to digital. !5 years ago I moved to Colorado to pursue my painting full time, and I only pick up graphic design and illustration work on the side.

      Btw, I have to ask if you know Ken Westphal.

      • I started out in traditional media (mostly oils when it came to painting). I used to work for a giftware company and the illustration I did for them was a mix of graphite, color pencils, watercolor and gouache (I used oil on occasion, too). When our company was going under, I began moving to digital, which, had I not done so, I otherwise wouldn’t be able to work professionally today since almost everyone requires digital files or revisions that can only feasibly be done digitally. Frankly, I miss oil painting but digital tools simply make things move faster. The absolute worst part of digital work is not having an original piece of art (not because I would sell any of it, but just to have for myself).

        Yes, you’re only slightly older than I (let’s just say I recently started getting AARP junk-mail and I’ve reached that age where Dr. Jelly-finger wants to make my acquaintance).

        No, I’m not familiar with Ken.

        • Interesting. Thanks for sharing your story.
          Ken mentored me a bit when I was transitioning to illustration, (before I transitioned back to fine art.) He very gregarious and used to call up people whose work he sees just to make their acquaintance.

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