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Packed with fascinating information, Menagerie at the Manger, is perfect for discovering more about holiday animals. And it is a handy resource for answering questions about why certain animals and Christmas traditions are the way they are.
Its companion book, Decking the Halls - The Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants, tells the stories and legends of popular Christmas plants.
Author is available for programs and storytelling.
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Enjoy the delightful stories of Menagerie at the Manger with the children in your life or the child in you. Each of the traditional animals at the Nativity shares its special role on that holy night.
Did you know that sheep were once not fleecy but shaggy animals with long strands of tangled wool, that long ago the robin had no red breast, but was just a plain brown bird?
How did they become the animals we recognize so easily today?
When you give someone a book,
you don't give him just paper, ink, and glue.
You give him the possibility of a whole new life.
~ Christopher Morley
Folklore depicts the first Christmas as an enchanted time. Stars fell from the heavens to become beautiful blossoms that filled and surrounded the manger. Ordinary weeds became beautiful flowers. The once simple stable was transformed into a celebration of nature.
Many animals gathered at the manger to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. On the Nativity's silent, holy night, as the menagerie at the manger surrounded the Newborn, each animal expressed its concern and joy to the world in its own manner and voice. The lullabies of the animals became the first Christmas carols to honor the King of Kings.
These customs continue today, so legends say. Each Christmas, veiled by midnight, animals in fields and pastures kneel and pay homage to the Christ Child. At that time, for one hour only, the animals are granted the gift of speech.
The presence of the menagerie at the manger demonstrated God's love for all nature, not just for humankind. the animals' gift to us is a refreshing perspective of the world's most glorious birth.
As long as there are storytellers, the mystery and magic of the Nativity animals will captivate our minds and touch our souls. And, as each animal's story is retold, it will intrigue a new generation with the centuries-old question: this is just a legend - isn't it?
The Oklahoman, Dennie Hall
The book's thesis is that animals witnessing the birth of Jesus were changed forever.
The book is dedicated to "all God's creatures," and the various chapters discuss the donkey, sheep, and ox that gathered to adore the Christ child. Allen writes, "Legends tell of other animals - a cat, a rooster, several birds - each quietly watching and worshipping in its own way.
Clever illustrations, drawn by the author's son, Scott Allen, enhance the text. Especially appealing is a drawing of a cat with closed eyes. The author points out that in ancient Egypt and Rome, cats had almost godlike status. One legend tells of a pregnant cat at the stable that gave birth at the same time Mary gave birth to Jesus.
The author points out that it's likely the donkey was the most recognized animal of the Nativity. She writes, "It served from the birth of Christ to his death as His transportation and appointed companion."
Jeanne Devlin, Oklahoma Today Magazine, former editor
Linda Allen's narrative is thoroughly researched and told with the simple authority of a natural storyteller. Allen's Menagerie at the Manger will enthrall any reader who wants a glimpse into the mystery of the night when the animals spoke.
Michael Lorenz, Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University
Menagerie at the Manger is a different retelling of the traditional Nativity story - this time with the legends and lore about the animals in the stable that holy night. This book will be a seasonal favorite with family and friends for years to come. As a veterinarian, I am especially pelased that the animals of the Nativity are placed in proper perspective.
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