The story of the birth of Jesus is endearingly told by Joseph's donkey, Zeke. For more information, please go to


Almost 25 years ago, author Alastair Macdonald went looking for a picture book telling the story of the birth of Jesus Christ to read to his children. Not finding exactly what he wanted, he decided to tell the story in his own words. “I wanted to create a story,” says Macdonald, “that would become a family tradition that parents could share with their children every Christmas; a story that would help to bring Christ back into Christmas.”

Macdonald decided to tell the story from the unique perspective of Zeke, Joseph’s trusty and hardworking donkey and wrote the story in poetic verse – anapestic tetrameter – the same upbeat and galloping rhythm of “The Night Before Christmas” and much of the poetry of Dr. Seuss.

First Christmas is vividly illustrated by Adel Nassief, an accomplished Coptic Christian artist who lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt. Nassief and Macdonald collaborated for three years on the creation of the icons illustrating First Christmas. The paintings were done in the traditional manner, on wood board with tempura paint and gold leaf. In the Coptic Christian tradition, icons are described as being “written” instead of painted because their creation requires prayer and spiritual consideration as well as artistic effort. Nassief’s twenty one paintings bring alive the story as never before, giving Zeke’s poetic narrative both depth and dignity.

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