cover image The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore. Alfred A. Knopf, $14 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54809-8

There are almost endless editions of Moore's poem, each as envisioned by a particular illustrator. The number and variety must make it difficult for people to choose the one just right to be part of their Chrismas celebrations. But Gustafson's full-color paintings, soaked in nostalgia, make his book a shoo-in favorite for lovers of tradition. In the best, old-fashioned mode, the narrator's house is garlanded with greenery and berries; the plump, tall tree glitters with candlelight; ""Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap'' evoke the last century and Santa Claus is fat, gorgeously dressed in scarlet velvet and ermine, ``a right jolly old elf'' with a delicious grin trained on the astonished observer. (All ages)