Joy to the World (Book Review)

  • Author: Pamela Kennedy
  • Illustrations: Big Idea Entertainment (?)
  • Publisher: Worthy Kids
  • Format: Small board book (Available Now)
  • Synopsis: The Veggie Tales celebrate Christmas with a stage show, ending with the Nativity.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Spiritual Themes

In costumed pageantry, the vegetables perform a holiday talent show, culminating with a reenactment of the Nativity scene. I have heard it noted, before, that VeggieTales makes a point NOT to depict Jesus as a vegetable, and I am glad to report that this book follows that tradition, even for the infant Christ child. We see the gathered angels and shepherds, but an empty spot on the hay in the manger (accompanied by a line about making room for Him in our hearts).

What I Liked

As someone who grew up watching VeggieTales, I enjoy the feeling of nostalgia that comes with reading a VeggieTales book.

With that said, I still do not know all of the characters by name. Instead, I’ll think of them by the name of the character that I most remember them portraying. For example, I know the female asparagus (?) only as Esther.

For that reason, it was fun to read the names of the Veggie characters, in the book. I learned that the carrot’s name was Laura (I had been calling her Sarah in my mind, up until I wrote this sentence), and I was reminded that the name of the redheaded female vegetable, who I know as Ruth, is actually named Petunia.

Narrative

The story is about a zany talent show, with vegetables performing various acts, before the nativity scene. Language was easy to understand for a little one, and the details were fun to read. My favorite part was the gingerbread guitar, which was both read and illustrated, and which was played–of course– by Larry the Cucumber. I also like the closing message about Jesus bringing joy all year.

Illustrations

The illustrations are highly engaging, with lots of bright colors for little (and grownup) eyes to feast on. I was also impressed with the amount of detail on the small boardbook pages. For instance, backstage, we see various different costumes handing on the rack. I recognize a Viking helmet from Lyle the Kindly Viking, as well as (I think) Larry’s sheriff vest from The Ballad of Little Joe. Subsequent pages include Christmas lights on the stage, festive foliage, and the flying angels harnessed on ropes. I find this last feature amusing, because it’s a picture book about vegetables, which is realistically capturing flying onstage. The sheep peas are also kind of cute.

Recommendation Status

This is a fun little board book for small children, which captures some of the fun traditions of the seasons, with emphasis on the birth of Jesus. I do like that Jesus isn’t depicted as a vegetable and that the portrayal of His coming, and its meaning, is written in simple language for the little listener. Recommended as a Christmastime read-aloud, or as a way to celebrate Jesus’ coming, all year!

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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