Gr. 3-5. Expect to hear this title a lot around Christmastime. Burton, the author, is also Burton, the filmmaker (Beetlejuice
), and this is the picture-book version of his new holiday movie. According to a companion adult volume, Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas: The Film, the Art, the Vision
, reviewed in this issue's Upfront section, Burton has used an innovative stop-motion process to animate the movie. Maybe the story will work better as a movie than it does as a picture book. It stars Jack Skellington, Halloween's most famous figure. He concludes that Halloween's a drag, and after literally falling into Christmas Town, decides to shove Santa into a sack and trade places with him. This leads to such lines as "And what to their wondering eyes should appear / But a coffin sleigh with skeleton deer. / And a skeletal driver so ugly and sick / They knew in a moment, this can't be St. Nick." At least these lines scan better than some of the stanzas in the rhyming text. It's not clear who the audience for this is. The art is macabre and likely to scare little ones, especially those who still believe in Santa. Older kids may find the book amusing in a gross kind of way, but if they've seen the film, these illustrations aren't going to hold their interest. Libraries might want to consider purchase if the film's a holiday hit, but to be on the safe side, wait and see if the movie is big box office--and whether that translates into requests. Ilene Cooper
--This text refers to an alternate
About the Author
TIM BURTON was born and raised in Burbank, California. He attended the California Institute of Arts and soon after began a career as an animator at The Walt Disney Studios. He made his directing debut with the animated short, Vinvent. The film was a critical success and an award winner on the festival circuit. His celebrated films include Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland and Frankenweenie. His book of drawings and rhyming verse, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories was praised by the New York Times for "conveying the pain of an adolescent outsider."