Julie Vivas is an award-winning children’s book illustrator most celebrated for illustrating Mem Fox’s ‘Possum Magic’, she became known for her tangible and emotive characters, sweeping scenes, and soft colours. Animated and expressive people, animals, and natural landscapes ground the visual language of Julie Vivas’ illustrations and ‘The Nativity’ carries her signature personability and spontaneity, therefore breathing new life into old and established characters and trusting that the illustrations would speak for themselves to connect with new young readers.
First published in 1988, ‘The Nativity’ follows the birth of Jesus with words borrowed directly from the King James Version of the Bible. While the biblical verses may prove impenetrable for some early readers, Julie Vivas’ pastel pictorial interpretation invokes familiar loving and joyful familial scenes that are recognisable to modern children. The warmth, humour, and tenderness in her illustrations infuse each stage of Mary’s pregnancy, her and Joseph’s journey, and the baby’s delivery with a relatable portrayal of a new young family and bridges the gap in understanding between the pictures and arcane dialogue. ‘The Nativity’ provides a gentle, accessible, and human introduction to the nativity story portrayed in the Bible by conveying Gabriel as more colourful than divine, and Mary, Joseph, and Jesus with intimate and domestic humour.