The Sleepy Shepherd, Stephen Cottrell, illustrated by Chris Hagan. London, SPCK, 2018.
Summary: The story of a shepherd boy who constantly fell asleep and slept through the angels’ announcement of the birth of the king in Bethlehem.
It is not often that I review children’s stories (and perhaps for my own soul I should do it more) but I just received this eye-catching Christmas story and enjoyed the tale as much as I did the colorful illustrations.
The story in brief is that of Silas the shepherd boy who was constantly falling asleep, throughout his day, at a meal, and while tending sheep–which was not a good thing! It turns out that he was tending sheep on that starry night outside Bethlehem when the angels appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of a king. Silas slept through it all, and later when his friends returned, he refused to believe them, believing they were playing a trick on him. He never went to Bethlehem to see for himself, and missed seeing Jesus, the newborn king.
Years later, he is tending some goats in a garden called Gethsemane. He’s heard about this teacher who is stirring things up in Jerusalem. He’s heard the story he tells of a shepherd with a hundred sheep who leaves them for the one lost. And one night, he hears a commotion in the garden and watches as Jesus leaves his disciples to stand guard while he agonizes in prayer…and they sleep. What will Silas, the sleepy shepherd, do?
This story ties the birth and passion of Jesus together. Through the fictional character of Silas, we understand the mission of Jesus more deeply–whether as an adult or a school age child.
The illustrations grew on me. The human figures look the way I would have drawn them as a school age child. The colors are vibrant, ideal for reading with a child on one’s lap, delighting in the illustrations which tell the stories as well as the words.
You might still be able to get this before Christmas, but even if it comes during the twelve days of Christmas, I think it will quickly become a family favorite that you will pull out at Christmastime during the coming years!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.