Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas by Ben Sowards
It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck.
Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth—extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.
What a charming Christmas-theme story! I read the story with my five year old daughter. The book tells the story of a boy and his grandfather living on an impoverished farm in the dust bowl at Christmas time. They encounter strangers who need their help. The boy in the story must sacrifice something precious to him to help the strangers. The story shows how the boy comes to the right decision by having faith and understanding the value of giving.
Below is my Q & A with my daughter after reading:
How did you like the story?: When it started, it sounded spooky.
What did you think by the end of the story?: It was sad.
Why?: Because he gave up the cow. But it was good he helped the people.
Did you like the pictures?: Yes. They were romantic. (aka, she liked them)
What didn't you like about the story?: When the bad king said he would capture the baby.
What did you like about the story?: I liked how they talked about Christmas and when the boy shared his cow.
Overall, I thought it was a nice story that showed the importance of self-sacrifice and understanding that the world is ultimately abundant. The artwork was beautifully done. My one criticism was that the scene where King Herod calls for the death of baby Jesus was a bit much for my child. Perhaps she was a little too young for the story. Overall, I would recommend it!