Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle . . . Some historians trace these figures back to a man who lived in Asia Minor more than one thousand years ago. His name was Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. Over time, the facts of his life merged with legend. But behind the legend lies a remarkable life. Ann Tompert's dramatic and simply told biography presents the life of Nicholas through a skillful blending of fact and legend, while Michael Garland's mosaic art beautifully reflects the Mediterranean world of ...
Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle . . . Some historians trace these figures back to a man who lived in Asia Minor more than one thousand years ago. His name was Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. Over time, the facts of his life merged with legend. But behind the legend lies a remarkable life. Ann Tompert's dramatic and simply told biography presents the life of Nicholas through a skillful blending of fact and legend, while Michael Garland's mosaic art beautifully reflects the Mediterranean world of the fourth century. Whenever we remember the needy at Christmas or give a gift to a loved one, we are living in the spirit of Saint Nicholas, who lives on in the spirit of Christmas.
In the third century, long before "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" became associated with the Christmas season, the man who would one day inspire that legend lived in the Mediterranean coastal town of Patara (in what is now Turkey). For this informative picture-book biography, Tompert (Saint Patrick) weaves together some of the most striking legends related to St. Nicholas. Becoming a bishop at such a tender age that he was called the Boy Bishop, Nicholas performed miracles in caring for his people, and his deeds were later to make him the patron saint of such diverse groups as women seeking husbands, students, sailors and more. Though this volume lacks a central compelling drama, Tompert employs a swift-moving chronology to emphasize Nicholas's purity, selflessness and faith. Departing from the style of his previous works, Garland's (Angel Cat; Leah's Pony) jewel-toned, mixed-media paintings mimic stone mosaic work; each element is composed of a mesh of tiny blocks. One quibble: the characters' expressions range chiefly from somber to distressed, and the heavy mood may prove off-putting to young readers. An author's note describes how Nicholas was viewed throughout history, including his modern evolution into Santa Claus. Ages 6-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
With its beautiful mosaic illustrations, this book would make a nice Christmas gift because it relates the story of St. Nicholas who later evolved into Santa Claus. Facts and legend are skillfully interwoven as the author explores the development of this Christmas icon. 2000, Boyds Mills Press, $15.95. Ages 5 to 12. Reviewer: A. Braga SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
- Children's Literature
Here from the author of Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake, and the illustrator of Leah's Pony, is the story of the boy bishop of Myra. His tale according to some, migrated through legend to our time, its protagonist recast as the kindly giver of gifts, Santa Claus. Whether or not this is so, the story of Saint Nicholas offers young readers a fascinating glimpse into Christianity's first few centuries. Delicately tinted mixed-media illustrations render the tale mosaic-style, accompanying a simple text that is easy and comfortable to read out loud. An author's note offers additional information. 2000, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 7 to 10, $15.95. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami—Children's Literature
Combining historical fact with legend, Tompert has created a dramatic and compelling biography of the patron saint of children, sailors, and scholars. Born around 275 to wealthy landowners who were kind and generous to others, Nicholas continued their charitable work when they died. He is often illustrated with three gold balls representing three bags of gold given to sisters as a dowry in order to save them from slavery. Nicholas became a priest at nineteen and went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Hurrying home, he took a ship which was surely doomed by violent winds and huge waves. After praying for two days, Nicholas and the ship were safely delivered. When Nicholas visited the cathedral to give thanks, he became the bishop of Myra. It seems that a priest had heard his name in a dream. Nicholas was respected, loved, and an inspiration to others. Imprisonment at the hands of the Romans did not deter his faith. For ten years, he and his congregation suffered. For the remainder of his life Nicholas continued to perform miracles, do good deeds, and give to others. In his generous manner, many remember him in spirit at Christmas in various forms as Kris Kringle, Sinterklass, or Father Christmas. Garland's stunning mosaics and vivid palette reflect the grace of Nicholas and the beauty of the Mediterranean world. 2000, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 6 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Laura Hummel