A Small Nativity.


32 pages
ISBN 978-0-88899-839-2
DDC j863'.64





Illustrations by Aquiles Nazoa
Translated by Hugh Hazelton
Reviewed by Sylvia Pantaleo

Sylvia Pantaleo is an assistant professor of education specializing in
children’s literature at Queen’s University and the co-author of
Learning with Literature in the Canadian Elementary Classroom.


First published in Spanish, the original text of A Small Nativity was written by the Venezuelan poet Aquiles Nazoa, who died in 1976. The translation of this retelling of the Christmas story was completed by Hugh Hazelton.


Information about the style of and the images depicted in the illustrations is provided on the front flap of the dust jacket and in the Illustrator’s Notes at the end of the book. Ana Palmero Caceres explains how the book was inspired by illuminated manuscripts created by Monks in the Middle Ages. The illustrations, many of them with decorative borders, include symbolic Christian images, as well as indigenous people and flora and fauna native to South and Central America. For example, the Wise Men who follow the star to Bethlehem travel on horseback and they ride past flowering cactus plants as they enter the town in search of the new King. Caceres has used a contemporary Latin setting for the story. Maria and José (rather than Mary and Joseph) are dressed in modern attire and the Wise Men travel with Venezuelan instruments.


The artwork, rich in colours, was drawn by hand, scanned and coloured digitally. In the Illustrator’s Notes Caceres explains how her work has been influenced by artists of the Romanseque period. Although some may object to the modernizing of the Christmas story, the artwork provides much to discuss with respect to culture and history. Recommended.


Cáceres, Anna Palmer., “A Small Nativity.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28409.