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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Journey to Bethlehem is a historical fiction novella for children written by Josephine Lawrence and illustrated by Laurie Barrows. Azariah is a stable boy who lives with the family of the Stable Master as his parents are both dead. He wishes he were going on the journey to Bethlehem, but the Great King Melchior drew up a list specifying the men who would accompany him. Zevidd, the Stable Master's son, was assigned to be the stable boy for the journey. Gilat, Zevidd's mother, has always been kind to Azariah, and she tries to comfort him in his disappointment. When the day comes for the great journey, however, Zevidd is sick from drinking too much wine the night before, and Ezek, the Coin Master, who knew of Azariah's industriousness and good nature, recommends to the King that Azariah go in Zevidd's place. He is thrilled at this honor, and Gilat gives him two royal blue robes to wear on the journey.
Josephine Lawrence's historical fiction novella for children, Journey to Bethlehem, brings alive the story of the Three Kings in a compelling and entertaining way. Laurie Barrows' pen and ink and watercolor wash drawings are marvelous! They're brightly colored and elegantly simple. I quickly became engrossed in the story of Azariah and his friendship with the young princess, and loved how the historical setting became familiar so quickly. Journey to Bethlehem is a perfect story to read aloud for the holidays and is suitable for young readers for whom primers are now too easy. This touching and imaginative tale is most highly recommended.