The old-fashioned phrases of the classic Christmas poem are juxtaposed with edgy, contemporary illustrations.
An unusual double-page spread serving as the title page defines the scene and the artistic style with a night view of a suburban street. All the houses are dark and undecorated save for a few plain wreaths on front doors. But one house is decidedly different, decorated lavishly with lights, ornaments, inflatable figures, and a “Welcome Santa” sign atop the highest tree. Inside this house, over-the-top decorations also prevail, surrounding the family and the dog, cat, and mouse that appear throughout. The father wears old-fashioned, striped pajamas and a nightcap, and when Santa arrives, he is dressed in a traditional red suit. But the reindeer are dressed in odd costumes that don’t relate to anything else. The illustrations, presumably digitally composed, are unusual in style, with all the characters seemingly frozen in their tracks or even in midair. No motion is indicated at all, even for the reindeer in flight or for Santa sprawled on the hearth after his descent. This flat, static effect is emphasized by a cool palette of greens and blues that further subdues the tone. The overall effect makes characters seem like posed robots with no life to them at all.
The warm Christmas glow traditionally associated with this classic poem is completely missing in this unusual but ultimately unsuccessful interpretation. (Picture book. 3-7)