Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher

A huge festive favourite of mine is Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher. They breathe new life into an age-old tale in a way that makes me smile.

Although this retelling of the Nativity is simple in many ways, it is so so clever due to the viewpoint it takes. When using this with a class, I do like finding out who can tell me the narrator of the tale. This is always an interesting point of the session when sharing this brilliant book as some pick up on the clues, while others are delighted at being taken by surprise at the genius of the concept. The Nativity told from the point of view of the donkey – what’s not to like about this?

I’m a huge fan of Sam Usher so this instantly jumped off the shelf. I love his expressive use of water colours and the way the landscape engulfs everything. The simplicity of his artwork goes hand in hand with the way the story is told.

Now for the teacher bit. I’m a huge fan of taking the time over the Christmas period to share as many retellings of the nativity that I can, so when I find one with a quirky angle to generate discussion, I’m in. As a teaching activity, I’d suggest doing a Diamond Nine to explore the importance of each player in the Nativity. For those who haven’t used this task before, this is a brief description. Display a list of each person/thing involved e.g. Mary, Jesus, Innkeeper, Donkey, etc and then ask the children to decide on the most significant. That is the top point in the diamond. Next explore who would be the next two and continue until the diamond shape is completed. A great way to generate discussion for children.

An important story told from the most unexpected point of view.

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