A young boy is taught to resist the temptation to steal a look at presents before it’s time in Nanette Crighton’s engaging picture book The Christmas Spryte Encounter: Package Peeking, an entry to the author’s Christmas Spryte Encounter series.
Excited about Christmas, Patrick can’t resist sneaking a glimpse at packages: “He tears tape from a package, ‘til the paper falls free,/ Then the contents are visible and Patrick can see.”
Soon, though, he’s paid a visit from the “Peeking Police,” in the form of Adam P. Bobby—“APB” for short— a small flying elf dressed in a policeman’s uniform. Instead of an All Points Bulletin, however, this elf’s message is for Patrick alone: ” ‘You should be quite ashamed of your peeking and poking/ ‘Cause Santa is watching and his wrath you’re evoking [sic]!’ ”
With this stern warning and the threat of no Christmas presents at all, along with some helpful fairy dust from Adam, Patrick stops peeking and later enjoys a happy Christmas day, with plenty of presents.
Written in rhyming verse that’s mostly smooth and fun to read aloud, the text is enjoyable, with challenging vocabulary words included (“perturbed,” “brandished,” etc.). But the story also has a few issues: sometimes-imprecise word choice, as when the narrator uses “evoking” where “provoking” would be more appropriate; the use of “site” instead of “sight”; inconsistent use of quotation marks, and minor grammar errors (“real early” instead of “really early”). Also, while Adam’s warning provides strong motivation for Patrick to change, the elf’s use of fairy dust to help the boy alter his behavior somewhat diminishes the impact of Patrick’s accomplishment.
The color illustrations, while serviceable, tend to be a bit static, with similar poses of Adam and Patrick reappearing throughout the book.
Despite these flaws, this is largely an enjoyable read— and, as an added bonus, It offers an entertaining way to deliver the message to children: Don’t peek at presents!