Yep, that was us in Galleycat last week. We were a little perplexed by a review of one of our new holiday picture books, Small Camel Follows the Star, by Rachel W.N. Brown and illustrated by the wonderful Guiliano Ferri. The book’s imaginative account of the Nativity focuses on the journey of the wise men, and the reviewer thought it odd—revisionist, even—that in this version of the story, Balthazar and his cohorts arrive at a house to meet the child Jesus.
Well, gosh, what about that stuff with the manger and the baby? Did Small Camel get it wrong? Not at all—the author chose to follow the Biblical version of the visitation, which appears in the book of Matthew, and the illustrator depicted the scene according to the details in verse 2:11. Yes, it’s a little different from the version we see in Christmas pageants—you know, where everything happens all in one night at the Bethlehem stable and the wise men are just sort of fashionably late. But as we’ve been getting the word out about the book, plenty of people are telling us they’re glad to see a picture book that acknowledges the Biblical timeline. So when we came across a review that insisted we’d taken liberties, we dropped a line to Galleycat in hopes that we could explain things. (Thanks, Ron!)
And, not to get all wise about this, but out of curiosity we did an image search on wise men to see if there are any other illustrations out there that clearly rely on the same “puzzling timetable” as Small Camel. Like this one. And this one. Also this one and this one and this one. So, there you go.