Prather’s Pick: A twist on a classic Christmas story |

Prather’s Pick: A twist on a classic Christmas story

Diane Prather

Diane Prather

"The Night Before Christmas" was written by Clement C. Moore a long time ago, but it's amazing how many picture book plots are takes on the poem. Settings include everything from the desert to the barnyard. Take this week's book, for example.

"Cop's Night Before Christmas" was written by Officer Michael D. Harrison and illustrated by David Miles. The author was the founder of Santa Cops, a policeman's charity.

The story begins in a locker room as police officers are getting ready for their shift — not just any shift because it's the night before Christmas. The leading character in the story is a young officer who has a wife and son.

"On the night before Christmas,

I was feeling quite moody.

Like other cops,

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I was reporting for duty."

The reader can empathize. The policeman won't be off duty until 7 a.m. He's missing the entire night before Christmas with his family.

So the policeman hits the streets in his cruiser, helping the residents of the town. (The entire story is told in the rhyme of "The Night Before Christmas.")

When he changes a tire for a lady with children, the policeman finds an orange-striped kitten. He puts the kitten in his car where it curls up beside him on the seat. Later on, when the policeman stops at The Doughnut Shop, he takes the kitten in with him.

Inside, "The aroma was wonderful: carbohydrates deep fried."

Everyone knows the policeman. The waitress has put coffee with cream at his regular spot. The kitten enjoys it, too. So, that's where they are until eleven, a long time to go before morning.

However, when the policeman leaves the coffee shop, he finds someone waiting outside. He's a fat, old cop with a white beard, wearing a red suit with stripes and a Christmas tree on his sleeve and bells and a couple of small stockings in his belt. His badge has a smiley face on it. The old man wears a policeman's hat, too, and what appear to be night goggles.

The old man introduces himself as Kringle, and he says he has the policeman's back. Furthermore, Sergeant Kringle says that he has been watching the town year after year.

If the reader studies the illustration closely, he or she will notice a ladder that has been tossed down on the doughnut shop, and hidden in the dark on the building's roof is a chopper.

This is no ordinary chopper, either. It's equipped with a spotlight that can light up the whole town. Bad guys can't hide from Sergeant Kringle! He's got a surprise for the policeman.

What a heartwarming story! (Kids will enjoy following the kitten to the end of the story.)

Officer Michael D. Harrison spent 18 years as a deputy sheriff and another eight years as a probation/parole officer. He has teaching experience with kids, too!

This book is published by Pelican Publishing Company (2010). It costs $16.99 in hardcover, but since it's an older book, you may be able to find it in soft cover. It's also one of the books in the children's room in the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.