Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Asleep on the Hay" by Ben Sowards

Asleep on the Hay:
A Dust Bowl Christmas
by Ben Sowards

Asleep on the Hay is currently on tour with I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck.
Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth - extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.


Praise for the Book
"A beautiful story. The illustrations were exquisite as expected. I will buy anything Ben Sowards does artwork for. He is a very talented artist and now a storyteller as well." ~ Judy R Huffman
"Beautiful Christmas story written and illustrated by a very talented man. A tender story that will touch your heart like it did mine. Refreshing twist on a classic story." ~ brad
"Beautiful story and artwork!" ~ CJD
"Great book, I bought two for my family! Great Christmas Gift!" ~ masov
"Great story and great illustrations!" ~ Louise Fralie

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Paul's family is struggling to make ends meet during the dust storms of the Midwest in the 1930s. When a young family in need arrives at their door around Christmas, Paul must choose whether or not to sacrifice his most precious possession in order to help them. A dream about the birth of Christ helps him make this difficult decision.
The author manages to convey the feel, smell, and taste of the dust storm through his writing. The illustrations, also by the author, are absolutely breathtaking and a perfect accompaniment to the story. There are a couple of nice parallels drawn with the story of the birth of Christ: the title of the book, the appearance of the young family at Paul's home just before Christmas, and the barn setting. In addition, the Bible verse from John 14:27 quoted at the beginning of the book and a couple of times throughout the book ("Peace I ... give unto you ... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid"), speaks to the farewell gift Jesus leaves his disciples, a gift greater than land, or houses, or possessions.
This book allows us to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and is sure to become a Christmas classic.

About the Author
Ben Sowards is the illustrator of many well-loved picture books, including A Christmas Dress for Ellen, Seven Miracles that Saved America, and Christmas Oranges.
Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.