Have you ever found yourself trying to hit just the right balance between celebrating Santa and Saint Nick? In our house, my kids put out their stockings on December 6th for St. Nick on his name day. OK, some years, when I’m better prepared, they put them out on December 5th. Full disclosure: this year I forgot the fun items and only put in things like scarves and gloves, so I pulled the fun things out of my closet two days later and tried to get by with saying St. Nick’s helper made a mistake…
If you can relate to any of the above, you’ll especially appreciate A Perfect Christmas, written by Dennis Engleman and illustrated by Niko Chocheli, because this story about Saint Nicholas takes place on Christmas Eve, giving you a window to keep celebrating him.
The setting is a family’s home of Christmas Eve. The oldest child, John, is starting to have doubts about the concept of Santa so he does what many of us have done- sneaks downstairs to catch him. John has better luck with this than I did as a child- all I discovered was my big brother sleeping on the couch-John meets up with Saint Nick and has an amazing time-travelling adventure.
Niko Chochelli’s illustrations use deep, rich colors which complement the serious side of the story and are a nice change from the season’s typical green and red. This book is not morbid like the Little Match Girl (which recently horrified me when I re-read it as an adult) but it’s not silly like so many Christmas stories. The author manages to tell a tale of St. Nick that respects the truth of Saint Nicholas of Myra’s life without alarming children about the elf at the North Pole. The author and illustrator hit a nice balance of maturity and fun and older children – ages 8 and up- will especially like it.