One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “The Little Drummer Boy”. For those of you who don’t know it, the song tells the story of a little drummer boy who goes to visit Baby Jesus in the manger. He has no gift for the newborn King, so he asks Mary if he can play his drum for the baby. When he is done playing, Jesus smiles at him.
I sing Christmas songs all year round, often using them as lullabies for my children. When our oldest daughter, Katherine, was just a toddler, I would sing “The Little Drummer Boy” to her as I rocked her to sleep. Each time I sang, I kept feeling I needed to write a story about a young shepherd who meets Jesus on the very first Christmas.
Still working outside of our home, I didn’t move forward with the idea; but I could never shake it either. By November of 2006, I had been a stay-at-home mom for over two years and I had been focusing on making a career out of my writing. For that year’s NaNoWriMo project I decided to tackle this shepherd idea that had been filling my mind every time I sang. It wasn’t going to be a children’s story, though. It would be the story of an adult Obed, who would leave home against his father’s will to search out the apostles. After the Resurrection of Jesus, Obed needed to know if the man he had heard about over the years could be the newborn King he met in the stable years earlier. His family had come away from God, and he felt if he could prove that Jesus was the Savior, they would return to their faith. You see, Obed came from a family of shepherds, and his father and two brothers were also with him on the night the angels appeared to tell him of the Savior’s birth.
While telling my pastor about the story one Sunday after church, he asked if this was a children’s book. I told him no, but the wheels in my brain started turning. Why shouldn’t I tell the story of the night the angels appeared to Obed in the field?
I sat down at my PC and got to work. I finished the first draft rather quickly, but it took a couple of more years before the manuscript was ready to be submitted to a publisher. At least I already knew where I would send it.
To make the story simpler for young readers, I took Obed’s two brothers out of the picture. Little Shepherd shares the story of how Obed, a young shepherd in the hills outside Bethlehem, learned about the miracles of the first Christmas firsthand. After the angels appear to the shepherds, Obed is afraid to leave his flock unattended, but some wise words from his father encourage him to visit the newborn King. Even though Obed spends most of the time anxious over his sheep, once he returns to the field, he realizes what a miraculous night it is.
Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.
Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.