Hello, friends – we’re back! Our book today is The Saint Nicholas Day Snow, written by Charlotte Riggle and illustrated by R.J. Hughes.
Catherine is excited to have her best friend Elizabeth over for a sleepover on the night of Saint Nicholas Eve. And while Elizabeth is excited as well, she has a great deal on her mind. Her parents have gone to visit her sick grandmother in the hospital, and she’s nervous that St. Nicholas won’t be able to find her – especially when she finds that Elizabeth’s family do not practice the same St. Nicholas Eve traditions her family does. Elizabeth’s mom reassures her that they will combine as many traditions as possible, and that St. Nicholas won’t forgot to visit them and bring treats – and perhaps a few more miraculous surprises as well.
There’s a lot going on with this one – there is the main story, which is sizable in length and detail for a picture book, plus three sets of insets: a series of textless vignettes illustrating the action at the hospital; a second showing depictions of St. Nicholas throughout the centuries; and a third showing various St. Nicholas cathedrals throughout the world, including their names and dedication dates. It’s quite a bit to unpack on every page, to the book’s detriment – it’s simply too busy. It’s unfortunate, because the story does well on its own: the descriptions of Orthodox Christian traditions are well-balanced for both practicing and non-practicing readers, especially with the in-depth backmatter. While all the characters appear to share a faith, there is a welcome diversity of skintones and ability (Catherine uses a wheelchair). The hospital storyline is a bit confusing, and could be stressful for younger readers. And while the art is intricate, some of the characters’ features read a little flat. The length is definitely not for younger bookworms – JJ had trouble sitting still through to the end – but we did enjoy the story. Uneven and perhaps overly ambitious, but worth a look, especially for those in the Orthodoxy. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)