12/20/2013 ** I've owned this book for over 20 years - it was inscribed to my husband by the author in 1993.
I have transcripts of one of my student's struggling with various words - glistening and beacons - from 4 years ago. I decided to read it to my fourth graders on the last day before winter break. From a writing and illustration perspective, this book glows. I love the interesting verbs and visual imagery.
However, the theme is interesting. The elves have worked hard in the final push to Christmas, Santa has left with the last sleigh-load of gifts, and everyone is too tired to put up the North Pole's decorations. They know Santa will be disappointed when he returns, so the Chief Elf hangs a scraggly wreath on the door. Through a Christmas miracle, a polar bear gets the wreath caught on his neck, tries to get it off, manages to get layers of ice and oceanic flotsam on the wreath, and re-hangs it on the door. Santa and the elves are amazed. It seems as if one implicit message is that we'll be rescued if we're too tired to do things for our family. I've been pondering the less obvious implications for the past 24 hours and am not sure I still like the book as much.