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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 17 October 2009
I was surprised and delighted by The Lion, the Unicorn and Me. For someone who is known for having had a difficult relationship with Christianity Jeanette Winterson has written a deeply spiritual and moving nativity story. The extraordinary idea of the incarnation is breathed throughout this fable. It is telling us something totally real and very wonderful. Our earth was visited and it makes all the difference. Rosalind MacCurrach, a newcomer, has illuminated the story with light and humour. Her glorious illustrations are very moving. I was impressed, for example, by the idea of placing the angel and the shepherds in a vast amphitheatre of the creation, the whole world. So right! This little book will delight children and all ages and be treasured for years.
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on 30 October 2009
This is such a new, interesting and beautiful retelling of the nativity. Rosalind Maccurach's illustrations really bring the whole story to life in a very touching and moving way. I can't imagine anyone child or adult not being affected by this book. It should rightly sit alongside Jan Pienkowski's Christmas Story as a classic book full of breathtaking images that every house should own and treasure.
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on 4 November 2009
I have always admired Jeanette Winterson but I didn't know she had done any picture books. This book is absolutely beautiful, and very moving and personal in its retelling of the Christmas story. I would definitely buy this for an older child or anyone who loves JW's writing, as I do. But I'm keeping this copy for myself!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 August 2010
This book was very well reviewed when it appeared for Christmas 2009 but it seems to have gone out of print very quickly, and currently it still remains out of print. We had to pay a lot for our copy (in fact we bought the limited signed edition, which was only slightly dearer than the standard one), but it is an exceptional book and worth it - though I would not be at all surprised if it appears again near Christmas of this year. It tells the story of the first Christmas from the point of view of the donkey. It is absolutely not sentimental, but it is very touching and charming, and the excellent illustrations by Rosalind MacCurrach work with the tale and enhance it. The donkey is chosen over the lion and the unicorn to be present in the stable because 'if He is to bear the burdens of the world, He had better be carried by me', rather as in Chesterton's famous poem ('There was a shout about my ears/And palms before my feet'). It is the donkey's humble ordinariness that makes him both not 'special' and absolutely the right choice.

This is a well-worn theme, but Winterson really does make something new and original of it. It is partly to do with how she structures the story and partly because of her use of words. Bethlehem at census time, for example, is so busy that 'even the mice were renting their mouse-holes, and there were travellers hanging out of birds' nests, their beards full of twigs and old worms, and the anthills were full up, and the bee-hives had three families apiece and there was a man tapping on the frozen lake asking the fish to let him in'. It reads out loud very well and young children love it. Finally, Winterson does infuse her book with a genuine and not at all 'preachy' spirituality which seems absolutely right here.

In conclusion, it's a lovely book, and rather special. It deserves to be widely bought and read, and I hope that it will eventually become more readily available again.

P.S. (January 2013) .... which it now is. I've also recently read Jeanette Winterson's autobiography 'Why be happy when you can be normal?', in which she explains the circumstances in which this wonderful children's book was written, in five hours by night when the author was in the depths of despair - remarkable!
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on 24 December 2010
All my three children adore this book and talk of it as "their favourite christmas read". It is read every Christmas Eve and every time we share it I always feel close to tears and moved by it. It manages to deal with a very grown up (it even covers the birth of Christ in all it's physicality) and deeply religious tale in a very approachable sense with the humble donkey's view point taking centre stage. Do buy it and it will become a modern classic in your house as it has in ours.
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on 11 December 2010
The donkey wins an important job in the face of stiff competition. Even the lion and the unicorn were upstaged by the donkey with no claims of fame, fortune, strength, mystery - just the humble abiity to get on with the job.
The illustrations have depth and brilliance; they repay study for their intricate detail. The theology is there, love and mystery and the world turned upside down. And unlike all other nativity retelling, the birth is there in all its rawness and tenderness. The angels and the donkey trumpet with joy.
This book is wonderful.
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on 27 March 2014
Originally borrowed from our local library (in the middle of summer!) as my girls were mad about unicorns. So, reading the Christmas story in July was a little strange but we didn't mind at all because it's so beautifully written in a style that appeals to children and adults alike. (Along the lines of 'OK, the unicorn may have been good with virgins but the donkey could carry the weight of the world on its shoulders, so was chosen for that very special job.') Kept a note of the title and author and duly bought a copy for us to keep - it'll be coming out every Advent from now on! Every home should have one!
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This is a beautiful book. Funny, poignant and joyous by turns it tells the nativity story from a completely different perspective, that of the donkey. Winter son's poetic, strange language lends itself perfectly to the tale and you find yourself utterly drawn in, even if you have heard it being told a thousand times before. It is truly splendid.
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on 19 January 2014
This is a wonderful retelling of the Christmas story, ideal for primary school age children (as a bedtime read for younger ones, or a book they can read themselves for older. What I particularly liked about it was, for those familiar with Jeanette Winterson's grown up novels, it contains all the same elements. There is the magic to the story, events being seen through the Donkey's eyes and given a sense of wonder. There is the playfulness and joy of words, some lovely descriptive passages. And there are elements of comedy too. All in all, whether you are religious or not, this is a "must-buy"
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This was Christmas book for one of my granddaughters; beautifully bound and the illustrations wonderful; the story, is however, just right for Christmas and I so enjoyed reading it to her. If considering this for next Christmas I would recommend the hardback version because of the binding; however, sure paperback would also be well received.
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