Skip to main content
Cover for Certain Poor Shepherds

Certain Poor Shepherds

A Christmas Tale

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Jonathan Bartlett (Illustrator)


List Price: 15.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A dog, a goat, and their flock follow the sight and scent of a star in a beautifully illustrated, keenly observed Nativity story.

The story begins on a cold upland pasture where coarse grass and scrub cedar grew. The hour was midnight. The day was the first of winter. And the year of our Lord was not 1900 or 1600 or even 100. It was 0. On that night a white goat, Ima, and a huge, gray short-haired sheepdog, Lila, were keeping watch over a small flock of young sheep.

Bright and dazzling, a star appears behind the cedars on the eastern skyline. It is big and powerful, and it has a pure, clean scent, like something halfway between honey and water. Lila, the sheepdog, and Ima, the goat, are compelled to follow the star on a journey to a humble manger in Bethlehem, a journey beset with danger, adventure, and love. In a story alive with insight and grace, best-selling author Elizabeth Scott Thomas brings us a striking portrait of the Nativity story from the captivating point of the view of the animal kingdom.

Praise For Certain Poor Shepherds: A Christmas Tale

The prose is simple and elegant. Harsh elements are balanced by tenderness and gentle humor, and there is an uplifting ending for the dual protagonists. An affecting, well-spun tale that will especially resonate with animal lovers.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Not a typical Christmas story of a peaceful, silent night, but themes of friendship and duty shine through.
—School Library Journal

Candlewick, 9780763670627, 160pp.

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

About the Author

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is the best-selling author of The Hidden Life of Dogs and several other successful works about anthropology and animal behavior. Her book on cat behavior, The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture, was an international bestseller. She lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Jonathan Bartlett earned his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. His work has been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Atlantic, among many other venues. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.