Prather’s Pick: A principal’s Christmas |

Prather’s Pick: A principal’s Christmas

Over the years, several authors have written their own versions of “The Night Before Christmas.” This week’s picture book for kids, first published in 2004 (and with two more printings), is an example.

“The Principal’s Night Before Christmas” was written by Steven L. Layne and illustrated by James Rice. It was published by Pelican Publishing Company. It is a humorous book that will be enjoyed by adults as well as children. In fact, it will take an adult to “catch” some of the text.

The book is written in the familiar rhyming format as the original “The Night Before Christmas.”

As the story begins, it is the night before Christmas. “All through the town all the students and teachers had settled right down.”

That’s all except Principal Jonathan Swell. Boy, does he have a lot to do! He sits right there at his desk surrounded by signs of the wall such as “Teach to the Tests.” A book, “Administrating for Dummies” by John Doe, a coffee pot, and a pile of papers fill up the desk.

He has to fill out forms for the state regarding mandated testing, fix a teacher’s PC station, and, perhaps the worst of all (in fact the school board has ordered it), a new bus schedule. That’s because Rachel Vander Trapp’s mother wants a much faster schedule so her daughter won’t be stressed when the bus is late.

And then there’s Peter McDermott who spits when he’s on the bus, bullies small kids, and flips his eyelids, which make some of the girls faint. His school bus driver has threatened to quit. Peter’s parents say their son is certainly an angel. They’ve said it before, too — during at least 16 meetings.

Poor Principal Swell has a bunch of decisions to make. After tucking his own kids into bed for the night, he’s back at it. Then at 9 p.m. he hears the jingle of bells. It’s Santa (just wait until you see his “sleigh”), though he isn’t dressed like the usual Santa. He offers his help and has praise for the principal, too. Even the elves get involved.

I love this book! What a great gift for a principal.

Author Steven L. Layne knows school work well. He’s an associate professor of education and literature, and among other accomplishments, he is a motivational keynote speaker. He has a list of books to his credit.

James Rice holds a Master of Arts degree in education, plus two degrees in fine arts. He has illustrated over 60 titles!

The hardcover “The Principal’s Night Before Christmas” cost about $10.85 when it was first published. It can also be found in the children’s room at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.

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