In 2005 I worked on a book with Little Brown USA and Sally Lloyd-James. The book was called Little One, We Knew You’d Come and was a retelling of the nativity story. The book sold steadily, was often a favourite for Christenings and was published in the UK by Frances Lincoln. And then it went quietly out of print. Second hand copies are available, but it seems that my first editions are collectable. Here are some, from abe books.
What I loved about the book was the human story it told, of a mother and child and that waiting time when a baby is due.
At the time of publication I had only really just begin writing, but the story haunted me until I decided to get the rights to the images reverted to me by Little Brown and try to give the book a new life.
The difference between myself and Sally is that she is a profound and committed Christian and although I grew up with a Christian education, Sunday school etc, I am not. But that said there are some stories that are just so profound, enduring, marvellous in the true form of the word. The Nativity is one for me. But knowing the whole story of the life of this man carries with it such gravity for me and that is what I have tried to bring in. I have concentrated more on the humanity, or tried to. I don’t know. The wonder of this tale for me lies so much in the every day-ness of it. The waiting, the hoping the dreams and desires.
The Newborn Child is about every child, every mother, every hope, every wish, every dream that is there and open at the beginning of every life.
Both Little One and The Newborn Child rely on the reader already knowing the story of the Nativity.
I tried to weave into my retelling the love and the passion of those first moments. They are so short. The calm after the storm of birth when to me it seemed as if there was nothing else in the world but me and my child, and I remember watching Tim hold Thomas and the look of utter wonder on his face. Precious memories. And then the world comes in, and everyone wants to see the baby, hold the baby. So, those times. That moment of peace, but I also tried to echo into the text another crown, and hands curled around, as if you know the Nativity and the beginning of the story then you also know the ending.
Every child is special. That is almost what this book is about. And i am glad it will be back on the shelves of libraries and bookshops.
Woven throughout are symbols from medieval manuscripts. Butterflies and daisies are symbols of resurrection. As are peacock feathers. Creatures share the quiet time with Mary and her child.
The Newborn Child will be published in Autumn 2016 by Otter-Barry Books. World rights available.