CERTAIN POOR SHEPHERDS
A Christmas Tale
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/05/1997
Product dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
Certain Poor Shepherds
A Christmas Tale
The story begins on a cold upland pasture where coarse grass and scrub cedar grew. The hour was midnight. The day was the first of winter. And the year of our Lord was not 1900 or 1600 or even 100. It was 0. On that night a white goat, Ima, and a huge, gray short-haired sheepdog, Lila, were keeping watch over a small flock of young sheep.
Bright and dazzling, a star appears behind the cedars on the eastern skyline. It is big and powerful, and it has a pure, clean scent, like something halfway between honey and water. Lila, the sheepdog, and Ima, the goat, are compelled to follow the star on a journey to a humble manger in Bethlehem, a journey beset with danger, adventure, and love. In a story alive with insight and grace, best-selling author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas brings us a striking portrait of the Nativity story from the captivating point of the view of the animal kingdom.
The prose is simple and elegant. Harsh elements are balanced by tenderness and gentle humor, and there is an uplifting ending for the dual protagonists. An affecting, well-spun tale that will especially resonate with animal lovers. —Kirkus Reviews
Praise for CERTAIN POOR SHEPHERDS: America’s foremost explainer of animal feelings and thoughts has woven fur and scent into the Christmas story, with amusing, moving results.” –John Updike
Not a typical Christmas story of a peaceful, silent night, but themes of friendship and duty shine through. —School Library Journal
Marshall applies her knowledge of the animal world (The Secret Life of Dogs) and her fictional skills (Reindeer Moon) to a rich re imagining of the Nativity story. Her pilgrims are a wise goat named Ima and a huge warrior sheepdog , Lila. Show More
“On the first Christmas, so say the Christians, a redeemer was born to save our kind from the consequences of our greed, waste, pride, cruelty, and arrogance. No redeemer appeared for the animals; however, none was needed. The animals were much the same then as they are now, just as God made them, perfect according to his plan…” So begins this resonant tale by one of our most gifted storytellers and most perceptive animal watchers, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. When an unusual star appears on the horizon one clear winter night, among those drawn to its bright promise are two shepherds – a dog named Lila and Ima, a goat. Therein lies an adventure, and Thomas’s departure from the familiar story treasured by generations. With their flock, the animals journey to Bethlehem and home again, witnesses to a redemption of which they have no need. Yet as they make their way, encountering danger and opportunity, their journey becomes an extraordinary meditation, moving but unsentimental, on the nature of freedom and the state of natural grace in a world ruled by the power – and frailty – of humankind.