De Paola separates text from pictures, and surrounds them both, with pretty-colored geometric borders--based, we're told, on New England quilt designs. He puts quilts on the beds and doll-like, primitivist people in them. He shows the householder couple peeping from a doorway as Santa goes about his business. The pair appears stealthy and apprehensive at first, but then strangely sad or just slumped. Santa is properly short but stiffly puppetlike, despite the winking eye at the indicated moment. And the 1940s house is cozy and inviting, especially where we see the stocking hung and everyone snug in bed. So overall these pictures are more pleasantly decorative than those in de Paola's Old Befana (above). But de Paola seems to take his cue here from that second line, ""not a creature is stirring. . . ."" Santa goes through his mechanical motions and, except for the spying couple, all is still. Faithful to the text perhaps, but without a sign of life it palls.