The people of this small town are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Artist Chee, through the use of saturated wet-paper technique, has given us a glimpse of the snow covered walks, the brass band, the dogs along the route, the birds in the trees covered with snow, and people holding mittened hands as they walk. This is a feel-good story about Christmas. The watercolors, using this special effect, give the pictures the appearance of being seen through a snowy night. This is not a recommended purchase for academic libraries on limited budgets. However, it is another choice for holiday gift giving. 2005, Carolrhoda Books/Lerner, Ages 6 to 8.
Impressionistic watercolor illustrations filled with blowing snow and blue-gray skies set a wintry tone in this poetic exploration focusing on the sounds and sights of Christmas Eve, such as a church bell ringing from "an icicle-pointed steeple." Johnston's poem uses the word "Noel" in bold type throughout the text to indicate the sound of the church bell, but there are also the sounds of a brass band, sleigh bells and Christmas carols. The text is full of sensory details of all sorts: "a dark snow-smell," "ears red with cold," a tree decorated with cookies and candies. Chee's soft-focus watercolors show just enough to draw the reader into each scene, while holding back specifics so that the viewer has to participate in the art by filling in some of the details. His impressionistic paintings are a fine match for the poem that serves as the text: Both seem to say that the hours of Christmas Eve rush by quickly in a blur of sensations too intense to last. (artist's note) (Picture book. 5-8)