The Berenstain Bears: The Very First Christmas
Have yourself a Beary little Christmas.
It has a strange framing device that Papa Bear is reading the storybook Bible to his cubs. The most bizarre thing about the framing device is, it's only at the beginning. At the very end, it just stops with text from the story of Christmas. There's no frame at the end. No closing parenthesis. It bothers me.
So it's Christmas Eve, and the bear cubs want a story before they go to bed. "Papa Bear says, 'How about a story from our storybook Bible?' 'How about the story of the very first Christmas?' asked Brother. 'The very first Christmas it is!'"
Mary lives in Nazareth. An angel comes, and she's afraid. He says, "You're going to have a baby named Jesus." "Mary said, 'How can this be since I am not yet married?'" Sure, that's how babies are made, kids. Marriage. And then she and Joseph go to Bethlehem and stay in a stable. There are some shepherds nearby, and the angels go to them and say, "Hey, Jesus is born," and the shepherds see him and tell everybody that Jesus was born. After this, the three wise men come to Jerusalem and Herod tells them to go find the child and tell them where the child is. The wise men go to the manger and give him precious gifts. God tells them in a dream not to go back to Herod, so they don't.
Then an angel comes to Joseph in a dream (God goes to the wise men, but an angel comes to Joseph. Is he not cool enough to get God directly?) and tells him that King Herod is angry with them and they need to go to Egypt, where they live until Herod is dead. Then they return to Nazareth and the last sentence is, "And that is where Jesus grew up." Okay. There's no conclusion to this book. That whole part about going to Egypt isn't really part of the first Christmas, so I don't understand why it's even in there.
And of course, this is not human Jesus. This is Bear Jesus. And Bear angels. And Bear Mary and Joseph. And Bear wise men riding camels. Bear shepherds (would sheep be okay with that? I guess they're okay with dogs). It's just goofy. They have their own Bear Jesus? The world of the Berenstain Bears gets weirder and weirder as time goes on, and as Mike Berenstain builds on the legacy of his parents in a more and more Christian way. Especially given that at least one of the earlier books had a fox creature. Do the fox people have Fox Jesus? Or are they a lesser race that has to settle for the Jesus of another species?
The best part: The shepherds are in their fields, with a Bear angel floating in the air. Swirling around that angel are five other Bear angels, all wearing different colored outfits. It's very kaleidoscopic. It would have been even more awesome if they had used older descriptions of angels and given them more than two wings and eyes on the wings and such. This is trippy enough for a Berenstain Bears book page, though.