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A Book for the Season!

When the Stars Shone Bright by Catholic author Madeleine Carroll

Photo permission obtained from Madeleine Carroll & Sr. Blandine Elisabeth for all images and photos in this blog.

Review: First Impressions

This delightful book grabbed me with its bright bazaar colours and gently rounded pots! And that was just the cover!

For children, I think the illustrations by Sr. Blandine Elisabeth will definitely draw them into the time, sight and smells of the land ‘East of Eden’. The text too, written by Madeleine Carroll, is beautiful and poetic. Children will definitely be transported to another place and time and will visit the Christ child afresh – through new eyes.

It is through the eyes of the wisemen that we hear this story. We learn of the land from which they hail. We see the work they were doing…and how God speaks to them through the fireball of a star that appears in the Heavenlies. They were ancient wisemen of their time who marvelled at the amazing and changing twinkling lights in the sky and tried to read them like a science.

So, we journey together with these three friends as they make their way, first to King Herod, and then to Jesus, the King of Kings. And after paying homage to Jesus, they returned home to tell everyone what they had experienced. They evangelised!

And just when you think you have come to the end, you turn over the page to find the scripture of the Epiphany from the Gospel of Matthew!

Really, this is the story of every man, woman and child. It’s an invitation to 

listen to God; to follow His lead; to adore Him and to tell the whole world about Him!! Get your copy here!

Conversations with the author, Madeleine Carroll

As this colourful story is seen through the eyes of the wise men…do you think that children might see themselves as wise people too? Wanting to listen to God and to embark on an adventure?

Madeleine: That’s my aim! I wanted to make this Christmas story as relatable as possible to ordinary Gentiles like us. None of us are Jews or more than likely have even been to Israel and so in lots of respects we are Gentiles – just like the wisemen were! Our children are like Gentile children searching and trying to get to know Jesus.

We are all trying to have a relationship with Him and this involves some searching; some getting in front of the baby King in prayer/adoration/worship; some listening and some responding.

The wisemen were expecting to find a seriously majestic King – the Messiah that had been foretold in their ancient writings! For a King of the Jews had been prophesied to come from the West to free them from their corrupt rulers. And yet, what were their thoughts when they meet this humble baby Jesus born into poverty, with the smelly animals?

Madeleine wonders how children might respond when they search for Jesus and find Him in an unusual guise?

The other thing that Madeleine hopes is that children might see the significance of the three gifts that the wisemen bring to Jesus. Madeleine discusses these ideas in her ‘Note to Parents’ section. 

She hopes that they will link the frank-incense used during our Sunday masses as something precious that is used for Someone who is worthy of praise. That the expensive gold will be seen as a gift fitting for a King and that the perfumed myrrh will be seen as an expensive anointing oil fit for the burial of a King.

Want to Make an Epiphany play from Madeleine’s story?

This adventure story could so easily be turned into a play! Perhaps your children would like to dress up as wise man and act out the story whilst you narrate?

These will definitely be needed! There are two ways of doing this. Both versions are simple enough to make.

1. The first uses a long piece of material and some string and a crown. Like one of the wise men from the story. Please click here for instructions.

2. The second uses a long piece of material on its own: similar to the other 2 wise men in the story.

Please click here for instructions.

Robes

This can be made from 1 tunic and then 1 very long scarf draping over the shoulders as in the previously seen video. Just top with a crown/ another turban if you want!

Pots

Every wise man will need a pot to carry his gold, frankincense or myrrh!

You will need water soluble glue, a paintbrush, 3 balloons, some newspaper, kitchen paper and fake jewels.

Please click here for instructions.

And if you would like to listen to more about the wise men and why both Jews and Gentiles were waiting for the Messiah in the first century, then click here and listen to an 8-minute video by Dr. Pitre.