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ON CHRISTMAS EVE by Liz Rosenberg Kirkus Star

ON CHRISTMAS EVE

By Liz Rosenberg (Author) , John Clapp (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7613-1627-2
Publisher: Roaring Brook

Christmas Eve isn’t always a time of calm, peace, and perfect plans. Sometimes a family is traveling to another destination and complications ensue, as is the case with this short, touching story by Rosenberg (17: A Novel in Prose Poems, p. 1318, etc.). The unnamed first-person narrator looks back to a snowy Christmas Eve when he was four or five and on the way to his aunt’s house with his parents, older brother, and baby sister. A snowstorm forces the family to stop for the night at a roadside motel with a star on its sign (and as luck would have it, there is room at this inn). The moody, dark illustrations, both in colors and in feeling, effectively show the disappointed children and the exhausted parents trying to do their best. Will Santa miss them in their snowbound motel? As the mother in the story says, “He always finds a way.” The young narrator wakes in the middle of the night in time to hear the bells, see the reindeer, and meet Santa himself. Clapp’s (The Prince of Butterflies, p. 332) stunning illustrations make readers into believers: in one spread that is pure magic, the child’s face is lit with joy as Santa flings toys and packages into the room, each gift surrounded by golden light. Another memorable spread shows Santa pointing at the starry sky, where mysterious, misty letters spell out the beginnings of Christmas wishes. The understated text, nighttime setting, and varied perspectives will remind many of Van Allsburg’s Polar Express, but this Christmas Eve tale creates a magic all its own. (Picture book. 3-6)