Hobbie’s fresh interpretation of the beloved Christmas classic offers a new way to see the arrival of St. Nick, from the perspective of one of the children of the household, rather than just the father.
An intriguing cover illustration sets the scene, with the four children of the family snuggled up in a huge bed. The three older children are sound asleep, but look closely at the youngest boy, a towheaded toddler in a footed sleeper-suit. He’s wide awake, and he and the family’s cat head downstairs together. The little boy hides in a striped armchair and secretly watches as Santa arrives for his delivery. The father of the family is also awake and watching, connecting effectively with the narrator’s voice in the poem. There is a hushed, magical feeling in Hobbie’s masterful illustrations, done in watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink. She effectively captures the subdued lighting of the quiet house at night and the dark, mysterious atmosphere of the outdoor scenes with deep-gray skies, snowy vistas and a single fox standing by. Every element of the book’s thoughtful design is skillfully chosen, including surprising perspectives, effective use of white space and an elegant type that echoes the muted palette of the illustrations.
This is a quiet Night Before Christmas, one to savor and read over and over, year after year. (artist’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)