The classic holiday poem, cut to fit, updated to suit modern sensibilities, and presented with a cast of small animals.
Actually, considering that in the original, Santa rode a “miniature sleigh” (here, an extravagantly decorated ice skate), there’s a certain logic to replacing the human family of her 2002 version of the poem with mice, transforming the reindeer into cardinals, and depicting the “jolly old elf” as a raccoon. Though the liberties Engelbreit takes with the text to accommodate these changes are relatively minor (“And then in a twinkling on the roof I heard / The prancing and pawing of each little bird”), dropping whole lines (“More rapid than eagles…” “As dry leaves…”), dressing Santa in velvet rather than fur, and having him suck not on a pipe but a peppermint stick (so “holly leaves,” not smoke, “encircled his head like a wreath”) justifiably account for the altered title. But what are elisions and distortions to audiences who delight in luxuriantly detailed domestic scenes strewn with antique toys, sweets, and dancing lines of block-lettered verse? For literary purists, there are alternative editions aplenty. (This book was digitally reviewed.)
A cozy pleaser, especially for the author’s fans and collectors. (Picture book. 5-8)