If a single big-game illustrator might have been able to succeed with Clement Moore's beloved chestnut, it was Anita Lobel--and the equivocal results probably demonstrate once and for all that the poem is best pictured by a corny commercial artist, in mass-market rather than trade-publishing form. Lobel has made the smart decision to set the story in late 19th-century New York--indistinguishable to a child from the older, smaller New York of Moore's era--which not only gives us a Christmas with Victorian trimmings, but also a memorable image of Santa's sleigh flying off, past a smiling full moon. . . and the Brooklyn Bridge. There's the passing charm, too, of the sleeping couple (""Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap"") with their hands intertwined. But mostly Lobel's Santa is tubby and jovial, as he should be; and her reindeer are perky, as they should be; and the house is gaily bedecked, as it should be--and ""The Night Before Christmas"" isn't significantly different from what it's ever been. For those who've wanted an artistic rendering in the Moore spirit (which Weisgard and Duvoisin and many another couldn't manage), this is it--but the vehicle is better suited to a broader, more commonplace touch.