cover image Night Before Christmas CL

Night Before Christmas CL

Clement Clarke Moore, Wendy Watson. Clarion Books, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-53624-7

Watson's utterly charming version of this old Christmas chestnut places it in a timeless, firmly earthbound setting full of movement. Each painting, contained in a box, settles crisply yet warmly in surrounding white space. The pictures themselves are cozy and detailed, but not cluttered; all rooms in this home look festive but fully lived-in. At first we see the habitat without its inhabitants--then toasty-skinned, pudgy folk spring ``from the bed to see what was the matter.'' When Santa comes down the chimney, dirt falls with him; household cats and dogs closely resemble the bright-eyed children. Vigorously realistic in her indoor scenes, Watson outdoes herself in small skyscapes tracing the jaunty trajectory of the reindeer, sled and Santa. She brings an original point of view to an oft-told tale. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)