cover image I Love Christmas

I Love Christmas

Walter Retan, Carolyn Ewing. Golden Books, $11.99 (93pp) ISBN 978-0-307-15875-8

Like a good fruitcake, Retan's Christmas collection is studded with flavorsome morsels. Standard offerings--Clement C. Moore's ``A Visit from Saint Nicholas,'' excerpts from the New Testament, several classic songs--are spiced with the additions of Polish and Italian folktales, an adaptation from The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens , a story set on a WW I battlefield and other eclectic choices. Poems include works by John Updike as well as Christina Rossetti, but elsewhere there is less attention to variety--why, for example, are there four entries by Kathryn Jackson? Illustrations are plentiful but pedestrian, on a par with greeting-card art. The watercolors accompanying an excerpt from Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows painfully show up Ewing's shortcomings, chiefly, her literal-mindedness and noisy color sense. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)