I wrote Hallelujah while I was stuck on another story, To Hear the Angels Sing. Both picture books are nativity stories, my attempt to capture that all-important story essential to the Christian faith. Whereas To Hear the Angels Sing captures the sights and sounds of Jesus's birth that I was familiar with, Hallelujah takes a different perspective. It asks the question: What if?
What if Jesus wasn't a fair haired, blue-eyed baby? Bruce Macmillan's rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" gave me the inspiration. If Mary in that story could be black, why couldn't Mary, the mother of Jesus, be black? After all, it is the Miidle East where wonders abound. That's the premise I started with, and then let the story evolve in a poetic fasion using a variety of collective nouns and color patterning.
"A black baby Jesus—Hallelujah!" That's the refrain in this joyful picture book that celebrates the birth of Christ with short, vivid, chanting lines and bright, rhythmic, color-block paintings in a style reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence...The text is great for reading aloud, and the pictures will appeal to the felt-board crowd, as well as to a more sophisticated audience. —Booklist