Luxuriously thick paper and a largish format which show to advantage Bartram’s sharply defined acrylic paintings, indicate that this is a book to be shared by adult and child, either at home or at school. And I suspect the nostalgic tone to the whole production makes it a cert for the home gift market. The text is minimal. An unnamed boy bemoans the warmth of a winter night. We infer that it is Christmas Eve as the closing scene the next morning shows that he has received a gift in Christmas wrapping. Getting into bed, the boy wishes that it would snow like it does in his snow globe. And then something magical happens and snow starts to fall. A figure, perhaps Jack Frost, leads the snowflakes as they begin to convert the landscape from deep greens to an icy blue. With the snow comes a whole cavalcade of carnivalesque winter images, skeetering from the top to bottom of the pages: a snowman, skiers and snowboarders, a polar bear, familiar Christmas tree figures, and in the background, set against the large orb of the moon is Santa Clause and his sleigh.
This dream sequence is denoted by heavy semi-translucent pages covered with snowflakes. The closing snow pages mark the end of the magic and the arrival of morning when the boy wakes to find his gift is a pair of skates. There are lots of references from the dream to reality and it makes for satisfying close looking. This is an elegant book, but very heavy on design features which give it a contrived feel and ultimately detract from the freshness we hope to find in an outstanding picture book. It would make a useful gift for families wanting to mark the magic of Christmas, but in a non-religious manner.