ONCE UPON THE VERY FIRST CHRISTMAS by Rory Feek
ILLUSTRATOR: Christine Cuddihy
GENRE: Children’s Picture Book (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Tommy Nelson
RELEASE DATE: October 3, 2023
Bestselling author and songwriter Rory Feek takes children and families on a beloved journey to Christmas past in Once Upon the Very First Christmas. On a picturesque farm, schoolchildren gather their homemade costumes and props and put on a heartwarming Christmas play for the community. As they don halos for the angel choir or round up sheep for the final nativity scene, readers will be immersed in the greatest blessings of Christmas—the gift of Jesus—and be reminded that we can rejoice together in the wonder of the season.
Rory’s soothing and lyrical retelling of the Christmas story
- is paired with magical illustrations by Christine Cuddihy of a homemade Christmas play,
- is perfect for ages 4 to 8, and
- is a great gift for Christmas, baby showers, and baptisms.
Take a moment to slow down this Advent and Christmas to treasure that first Christmas, God’s gift of Jesus, and every precious moment He’s given you to celebrate with family and friends.
There’s something so endearing about seeing the Christmas story of Jesus’s birth portrayed by children in bathrobes and fake beards and shepherd staffs that are a bit too big for them. And when live animals are also in the mix? Well, based on my own childhood experiences, all bets are off when you use real donkeys and sheep and goats! Anything could – and often does – happen.
Author Rory Feek and illustrator Christine Cuddihy have beautifully captured those precious & unpredictable moments in Once Upon the Very First Christmas. As the Christmas story is told in rhyming text, the illustrations show a homemade Christmas play put on by the students of a one-room schoolhouse, no doubt modeled after the one on Feek’s own farm. Among the adorable characters, I also spied illustrations representing Feek himself and his little angel Indiana. These personal touches make the sweetness of this book even sweeter, a book that adults and children alike will love.
Bottom Line: The bright colors, gentle farm scenes, and even a few chuckles tucked away in the pictures combine with the the lyrical lilt of the text and the timeless hope of the Christmas story in Once Upon the Very First Christmas. Cuddihy’s endearing illustrations will appeal to all age groups, and Feek’s retelling of the biblical account points to the true meaning of the holiday. My only complaint is the inclusion of the wise men in the scene at the stable, but then I have that same complaint about most Christmas pageants so it’s certainly not enough to stop me from recommending it. A charming picture book for families to add to their annual traditions of Christmas reading at bedtime or on Christmas morning!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
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Purchase the book & download the free activity guide HERE.
Rory Feek is a true renaissance man, known as one of Nashville’s premiere songwriters, entrepreneurs, and out-of-the-box thinkers. He is a world-class storyteller, crossing all creative mediums, from music and film to books and digital media, and is the New York Times bestselling author of This Life I Live and author of Once Upon a Farm and The Cow Said Neigh. As a blogger, Rory shares his heart and story with the world through roryfeek.com and has more than 2 million Facebook followers. As a songwriter, Rory has written multiple number-one songs. As an artist, he is half of the Grammy-winning country music duo Joey+Rory. As a filmmaker, Rory wrote and filmed the touching documentary To Joey, with Love and directed the feature-length love story Finding Josephine. Rory has appeared on The Rachael Ray Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and The Today Show. As a storyteller, Rory has a new role as Chief Creative Officer of the television network RFD-TV, where he will continue to share not only his own story with the world but also the incredible stories of many others. RFD-TV originally aired the television variety show The Joey+Rory Show and will also air Rory’s most recent television series, This Life I Live. Rory and his youngest daughter, Indiana, live an hour south of Nashville in an 1870s farmhouse, where she goes to school in a one-room schoolhouse built for their community.
Christine Cuddihy is an illustrator based in the Midlands, United Kingdom. Inspired by the magical picture books she loved as a child, Christine has been creating stories and illustrations ever since! In 2007, she graduated from Falmouth College of Arts with a degree in fine arts, and her artistic pursuits led her to her ultimate passion—illustrating children’s books. Having grown up in a nontraditional family, Christine values diversity and aims for all children to be able to see themselves and their families represented in her work. Connect with Christine at her website.
What about you? What makes you want to read a copy of Once Upon the Very First Christmas by Rory Feek with a little one in your life?