Katie Fitzgerald reviews a new picture book, The Night the Saints Saved Christmas.
There are many stories in books, films, and TV specials where Santa Claus, for some reason, is unable to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve, and unlikely assistants have to step in. In her picture book, The Night the Saints Saved Christmas, Gracie Jagla puts a fun Catholic spin on this holiday trope. When Saint Nick wakes up on Christmas Eve with a sore throat, his fellow saints decide to take over his deliveries, each claiming responsibility for one region. St. Peter heads to Israel, Martin de Porres to Peru, and Lucy to Italy. Joan of Arc travels on horseback, while Joseph of Cupertino flies through the night and John Paul II makes his trip on skis.
The rhyming text describes the saints’ travels, as well as the true meaning of Christmas and the beauty of God’s gift of grace. The story is funny, but also very clear in its presentation of the Catholic understanding of Christmas. The illustrations by Michael Corsini infuse each saint with personality, and love and kindness are evident in each of their faces. The images of the saints visiting homes around the world emphasize the universality of the church and remind us that all of us, regardless of background, have the opportunity to be saints ourselves.
Whether your family participates in the Santa Claus tradition or not, this imaginative tale is a great addition to your collection of Catholic Christmas books, especially for ages 3 to 7. Not only does it help solidify the fact that Santa and Saint Nicholas are one and the same; it also places Christmas gift-giving in its proper religious context. Kids will also be interested to learn more about the saints mentioned in the story.
In my family, our Christmas Eve tradition has always been to read aloud "‘Twas the Night Before Christmas" and a picture-book version of the Nativity story before the kids go to bed. This year, we’ll be adding The Night the Saints Saved Christmas to our book stack as a cozy way to welcome the Christmas season.
Copyright 2021 Katie Fitzgerald
Image: Canva Pro
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.