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Good Mews H istorically speaking, there probably weren't any cats frolicking in the straw on the floor of the manger in Bethlehem, but from a literary perspec- tive, there may not be a better animal to capture a child's curious nature than a cat. Smaller than most farm animals yet familiar to most children, cats have a child-like contradiction of insecurity and confidence. Cats are always eager to be near the monumental moments of life but at a distance from which they feel safe from unanticipated motions and emotions. A new children's book, The Stable Cat's Christmas, tells the story of the nativ- ity from the point of view of "one small, plain, sand- colored cat." e cat is curi- ous about the child they call a king but who is born into a barn instead of being deliv- ered into luxury. While the other animals in the stable each talk about the gift they will provide to the child, the cat struggles to find its own gift that would be worthy of a king. Author Christina S. Vrba expertly lays out the cat's tale in a way that helps the story climb to its cute conclusion unburdened by fluff that would detract from the story or distract young read- ers. is is only Vrba's second book after making her debut on children's bookshelves with Good Night Connecticut in 2009. at book is part of the bestsell- ing Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring locations throughout North America using child-friendly themes. e books provide an illustrated tour of a given area's iconic features, such as Long Island Sound, Gillette Castle and the Mark Twain House and Museum, in the case of Connecticut, where Vrba lives with her husband, son and a menagerie of pets. Gail Yerrill's illustrations provide an excellent peek into the nativity from the point of view of the small, seemingly insignificant cat. A cat owner her- self, Yerrill captures the metaphor of the child-like cat as it views the monumental moment through a lens of innocence and curiosity. is is the 22nd chil- dren's book Yerrill has illus- trated and her seventh chil- dren's book about Christmas. Yerrill has had a long love affair with drawing that in- cludes a degree in 2D design to prove it. Her soft illustra- tions have graced the pages of children's books for Parra- gon, Macmillan, Little Tiger Press, Alligator books and an animated story for the BBC. She loves animal characters and draws inspiration from her children, pets and the rural village of Bedfordshire, England where she lives. e book is a wonderful reminder that discover- ing our capacity to love our fellow man and beast is the only gift we could ever give that would be worthy of God's grace. e Stable Cat's Christmas is available at Book Garden, one of Tulare County's last remaining book- stores, for $16.99. To purchase the book, visit the store at 189 E Pine St., or call ahead at 559-592-2538. Bo ok Re v ie w : at t he Mang er Text and Photography by reggie ellis 2 017 H O L I D AY M A G A Z I N E 25

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