On Christmas Eve Review
Starred Review
Kirkus Reviews -- Nov. 1st, 2002

On Christmas Eve
Roaring Brook Press
ISBN: 0-7613-1627-2
Price: $15.95
Liz Rosenberg
Illustrated by John Clapp

Christmas Eve isn't always a time of calm, peace, and perfect plans.
Sometimes a family travels to another destination and complications ensue,
as is the case with this short, touching story by Rosenberg (17: A Novel in
Prose Poems, p.1318, etc.).  The unnamed first-person narrator looks back to
a snowy Christmas Eve when he was four or five and on the way to his aunt's
house with his parents, older brother, and baby sister.  A snowstorm forces
the family to stop for the night at a roadside motel with a star on its sign
(and as luck would have it, there is room at the inn.)  The moody, dark
illustrations, both in colors and in feeling, effectively show the
disappointed children and the exhausted parents trying to do their best.
Will Santa miss them in their snowbound motel?  As the mother in the story
says, "He always finds a way."  The young narrator wakes in the middle of
the night in time to hear the bells, see the reindeer, and meet Santa
himself.  Clapp's (The Prince of Butterflies, p.332) stunning illustrations
make readers into believers: in one spread that is pure magic, the child's
face is lit with joy as Santa flings toys and packages into the room, each
gift surrounded by golden light.  Another memorable spread shows Santa
pointing at the starry sky, where mysterious, misty letters spell out the
beginnings of Christmas wishes.  The understated text, nighttime setting,
and varied perspectives will remind many Van Allsburg's Polar Express, but
this Christmas Eve tale creates a magic all its own.  (Picture book.  3-6)



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