I was really delighted to find this sweet children's book on Ebay. I was intrigued by the title and the picture of St. Nicholas on the cover. With shipping I was able to get this for less than $5.00.
Can We Help You, Saint Nicholas? Written by Gerda Marie Scheidl this book was first published in Swtizerland and translated to English by Rosemary Lanning in 1992. The beautiful illlustrations in this book are by Jean-Pierre Corderoc'h. The publisher is North-South Books who have published numerous children's books, both in paperback and hard cover.
The book measures 8-1/2 x 11 with only 24 pages, some of which are just pictures so this is a perfect book to read to your child at bedtime. It's a short Christmas tale of Saint Nicholas, not the jolly red dressed Santa most children today are familiar with.
Saint Nicholas oversleeps and hurries out Christmas Eve and looses his way in the dark snowy evening. The moon is hiding and he can't find his way until an owl asks Can I Help You, Saint Nicholas? The owl guides him through the dark night until Saint Nicholas stops and says he is hungry as he had rushed out before eating. The owl offers to fetch him a mouse he has spotted which is quickly forbidden by St. Nicholas. The little mouse comes up and says the now familiar line, Can I Help You, Saint Nicholas? He has three nuts that can be eaten but they need to be cracked open. We now meet the squirrel and you can guess the rest. All of them continue on into the night to help Saint Nicholas.
The wind starts to pick up making Saint Nicholas sneeze from the cold until they chance upon a bear who takes them all into his cave where they cuddle together until they can head out again. As they travel on they all suddenly fall into a hole in the snow and it takes a reindeer to get them all out. Wearily they travel on until they see the lights of the village and the children Saint Nicholas knows are waiting for him. He is tired and doesn't think he will make it until the reindeer takes him on his back and they head off. The rest of the animals yell their goodbye with a promise to be there again next year should St. Nicholas need their help.
The characters are charming and the illustrations excellently done. While this is a slightly different tale from Santa coming down a chimney, I loved reading it myself and can't wait for grandkids so I can give them each a copy of this book.