The Little Life of Jesus, published by Magnificat, text by Anne Gravier, illustrations by Adeline Avril, is a charming retelling of the life of Jesus for very young children.
This book held the attention of my 4 yr old who is active and not very cooperative about sitting still for stories. I see it best for toddlers, pre-school age children and slightly older children who are sensitive and not yet ready for the harsher elements in the gospel. This is NOT a watered down version, but it is geared carefully for very young children.
The illustrations are bright and interesting and filled with happy faces communicating the gladness that comes from Christ. The style of the art is soft, without any sharp angles, and made Jesus look marvelously hugable! My children and I enjoyed the pictures very much.
The vocabulary used is very simple to avoid parents having to stop to teach words like apostle. This allows for a smooth reading that helps the child see the story as a whole. There is a time and place for teaching the vocabulary of the faith but this book is not intended for that purpose.
The structure of this retelling may feel familiar to the adults reading it. Page by page the story is told in segments that reminded me of praying the Rosary. I appreciated that this story parellels the Rosary. Not every mystery got its own page so it isn't a perfect paralleling, but enough that when children later meet the mysteries they will have a happy familiarity.
Aiming at small children, the text gently avoids the more painfully graphic elements of the Gospels such as the murder of the innocents, and the flight into Egypt which can frighten some children. At first I was bothered by the avoidence of reality, but then rethought my first response. This story is to introduce the Gospel as a beautiful and positive story. The crucifixtion is told as gently as possible, and followed up with the resurrection and assention. Nothing that is left unsaid changes the truth of the Gospel.
The Little Life of Jesus is a beautiful, gentle and positive introduction to the Gospels for the youngest of children. I highly recommend it.