cover image A Gift from Saint Nicholas

A Gift from Saint Nicholas

Carole Kismaric. Holiday House, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-0674-6

Over the years, the legend of Saint Nicholas, a bishop who lived in Asia Minor over 1500 years ago, has evolved into an image of the white-bearded, red-suited Santa Claus. But Timmermans's original story, St. Nicholas in Nood , written in the first part of this century, told of a loving, generous bishop who cared deeply for his people. When Saint Nicholas and his assistant are delivering presents, they run out of gifts before they have given something to the child Cecile. Cecile, who overhears them discussing the dilemma, tells the bishop exactly what she wants and where they can get it: a beautiful chocolate ship, the ``Congo,'' at the candy shop. But the miserly Trinchen Mutser, who owns the candy shop, doesn't believe the bishop is who he claims to be, and refuses to give him the costly ship. After they leave her store, Trinchen Mutser has a change of heart and gives Cecile the gift she so longs for. As in Babushka , Mikolaycak's dramatic old-world style illustrations have brought a historic tale vividly to life. The format of the book, that of an illustrated tale rather than a picture book, adds to the legendary quality of Kismaric's poetic adaptation and rekindles the true spirit of Christmas. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)