This is a delightful adaptation of the Nativity Story that manages to be great fun without being irreverent.
The story of the first Christmas is told from a very different point of view in this charming retelling by Nicholas Allan. The grumpy innkeeper has had more than enough after a busy day and wants nothing more than to retire to bed for a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately for the innkeeper events will conspire against him and as the night progresses he becomes steadily more and more grumpy. A steady stream of visitors arrive at the inn starting with a young couple and continuing at regular intervals with assorted shepherds, kings and angels and are all told to go “Round the back!” Until at last the furious and exhausted innkeeper is won over by a very special baby indeed.
Such is the success of this lovely book that a whole range of linked resources have been created linked to it including a play-script. This is not at all surprising as it has now been working its magic on young children for more than twenty five years. Over this time I have shared this book with both my own children and many, many more in libraries. They all love this refreshing take on a story that they know so well. That is one of the things that makes it work so beautifully when read aloud. Children love that they know what is happening before the innkeeper does. Great fun can be had guessing who the next visitors may be when the innkeeper hears yet another knock on the door. Children also love to join in with the repetition of the catchphrase too and story-time can become quite noisy with lots of small listeners calling out “Round the back!” by the end of the story.
My copy has the added bonus of push out nativity figures in the back of the book so that children can assemble their own crib scene. Many a lunchtime break has been livened up by a group retelling of the story with these figures. The book and the characters are now more than a little battered but much loved. This is surely the sign of a brilliant Christmas book.