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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Grandmother pens ‘Royalty or Shepherds? A Christmas Story’

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

A picture book 10 years in the making arrived just in time for the holidays.

“I’ve been working on this for a long time,” said former middle school teacher Sharon Reidenbach.

“Royalty of Shepherds? A Christmas Story,” published by Christian Faith, started with a question.

“As I looked at the beautiful pictures of angels for adults, I wondered what children saw,” Reidenbach recalled.

Pondering the Christmas story in the Bible led to another question.

“How did the angels feel about announcing the birth of Jesus to dirty shepherds and smelly sheep?” she wondered.

And so she began to write.

Her version of the heavenly host is a multicultural children’s choir and orchestra led by the white-haired Maestro.

When the King appears and asks them to announce the birth of his son to his “Special Royal People,” the angels chat excitedly about their mission.

Royalty wear long, flowing robes, crowns, feathers and rings.

They practice until their wings droop, and then two angels, Gus and Bella, sneak out to look for the Special Royal People, but all they see are shepherds guarding dirty, smelly sheep.

The story follows the antics of the angels (and the Maestro) searching for the King’s royalty and the surprise they discover.

Reidenbach, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, honed the story with the encouragement of her monthly picture book writing critique group.

“That’s where I met my fabulous illustrator, Sandra Barnett,” she said. “(The book) started at 2,000 words, but it’s now 700.”

Throughout the story, eagle-eyed young readers will spot a clock that ticks down the time for the great announcement and a star looming ever bigger and brighter on the horizon.

“Royalty or Shepherds? A Christmas Story” is available in hardback and paperback and includes discussion questions and an activity/coloring book.

“The discussion questions are multileveled for parents, teachers and caregivers to use,” Reidenbach said. “The book lets children discover things on their own.”

Including the answer to the question posed in the title: Who saw Baby Jesus first? Royalty or shepherds?

Reidenbach dedicated the book to her four grandchildren and has been delighted by its reception.

“Amazon ran out of the paperbacks and had to order more.”

She hopes the message will resonate with readers, young and old.

“First impressions are so easily mistaken,” she said. “God sees us all equally. We are all royal in his eyes.”

“Royalty or Shepherds? A Christmas Story” can be purchased online at, Apple iTunes store, or Barnes and Noble.

Contact Cindy Hval at