Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver – a Book Review

It’s not easy to find a good Christmas story for kids. Even though there are a whole lot of Christmas picture books out there, many of them lack substance.

They tend to be predictable – especially children’s Christmas storybooks about Santa Clause (a.k.a. Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas).

In many Christmas stories for kids, something is wrong with Santa’s sleigh, or with one of the reindeer, or with the weather or Santa’s health, casting shades of doubt and fear into young children’s minds: will they get their Christmas presents in time?

Or the Christmas story focuses on the children waiting for Saint Nick to bring them gifts.

Maybe the children are poor, or they recently moved, or are not sure whether Santa really exists and if he really does have the ability to deliver presents to every single child on Christmas Eve.

So, the question is, do we really need another book about Santa Clause?

Unflinchingly, yes, we need this book.

Ned Bustard’s new Christmas picture book, Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver, is not just another story about Santa and his reindeer. Written in rhyme and illustrated in a truly unique style, Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver is a merry mingling of poetry, history, and legend.

The storybook begins with these captivating lines:

On the night before Christmas,
so the old stories say,
Saint Nicholas rides
in a magical sleigh.
But what is the truth,
and what are the legends?
Who is this giftgiver,
and why all the presents?

Instead of focusing on Saint Nick in modern times, the tale journeys back to the original story of young Nicholas growing up in Turkey and traveling to faraway places. Ned Bustard tells in poetry the true story of Saint Nicholas and how he slowly turned into the man of legend and myth.

In a recent interview, the author offers this hope for his story:

Saint Nicholas The Giftgiver is a book that fully embraces the wonder and enchantment of Christmas while also equally embracing the Faith and historicity of Christmas. Most books do one or the other. This does both. My hope is that this book will help the readers make both aspects of Christmas — the faith and the magic — part of their Advent celebrations.

Ned Bustard

The artwork of the book is an absolute delight, done in a unique linocut style, colorful and cheery. Kids of all ages will love hearing the poetic story read aloud by parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers.

There are some Christmas stories I remember growing up with, one written in rhyme that I memorized as a child because I loved the rhythm and meter of it. If this story had been available when I was little, I believe it would have been a favorite. I would probably know it by heart by now.

There are plenty of children around the world today who would love to grow up with a tale such as this one. Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver will make a lovely gift for children and families with little ones.

About the book’s author:

Ned Bustard, author of Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver, is a graphic designer, illustrator, and printmaker for World’s End Images, the creative director for Square Halo Books, Inc., and curator of the Square Halo Gallery. You can learn more about Ned Bustard here.

And you can purchase the book here:

Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver