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The Real Santa Claus

by Marianna Mayer

Published by Phyllis Fogelman Books / Penguin Putnam, 2001
32 pages
ISBN: 0-8037-2624-4

Ages 7 - 11

The famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is reprinted without illustration at the beginning of this elegant book that examines the real person on whom that poem is based. The real Nicholas lived during the fourth century in what is now Turkey. Throughout the centuries the legends of his generosity have inspired musicians, playwrights, sculptors, and painters. Mayer's fictional narrative is illustrated by more than two dozen paintings featuring the man who became Bishop Nicholas. Beautiful full-color reproductions of these masterworks represent careful selection and exacting attention to the printing process. The small typeface can encourage young readers ready to learn more than the typical legend in the famous poem. Someone wanting more information can see The Truth about Santa Claus by James Cross Giblin (Crowell, 1985). Mayer does not speculate about the recent literary controversy concerning the poem's true authorship. She credits books about saints as her sources. The artwork selected and acquired for this beautiful volume is chiefly from European artists such as Tintoretto and Fra Angelico. Artwork from a book of hours, and even several greeting cards, is also reproduced. The author's commentary sums up what can be agreed upon about the real Santa Claus: "The compelling evidence of his generosity supplied by history, legend and art portrays for me a simple true-to-life human being with a fineness of character that both reflects and encourages the generosity we are all capable of..." CCBC categories: Seasons and Celebrations; The Arts; Biography and Autobiography.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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