TITLE: Saint Nicholas: The Story of the Real Santa Claus
AUTHOR: Mary Joslin
ILLUSTRATOR: Helen Cann
PUBLISHED BY: Pauline Books
Just in time for St. Nick’s Day, here’s a lovely retelling of the legend of Saint Nicholas, who becomes, of course, Santa Claus. This one, I love, because of the vibrant immediacy of the story, and the lovely illustrations.
We know the legend, right? There was a family of three daughters, and they were so poor that no one would marry them because there was no money for a dowry. They were good girls, and did not complain, worked hard, loved their father, and acted in charity and good faith, never despairing. Nicholas, their priest, rewarded their charity with a gift of his own: he threw gold coins down their chimney (and they landed in their shoes and stockings drying by the hearth).
Joslin writes the story from the perspective of the family, which allows us to see exactly how the legend began (without being pedantic about it). They are given this great gift, which will allow them to live comfortably, get married, and thrive, but they do not know who gave it to them. We carry on the tradition, either on St. Nicholas’ Day or Christmas; we wake up to find our shoes (or stockings) full of candy and treats, anonymously given.
This lovely retelling of the legend of St. Nicholas will remind us, with its warmth, character, and cheer, that it hardly matters who gave us the goodies, since, as Nicholas teaches: all our gifts come from God.
Other books about St. Nicholas:
Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, by Julie Steigmeyer and Chris Ellison
The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving, by Dandi Daley Mackall
The Legend of Saint Nicholas, by Demi (the collage illustrations in this are stunning!)
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan