Christmas has come to the mountain country of Appalachia, and St. Nicholas begins his annual journey southward to bring joy and happiness to youngsters of all ages. In Appalachia, however, it is Christmas with a difference. The traditional St. Nick, so well known to boys and girls almost everywhere, is transformed into a jolly, twinkly-eyed mountain man named Sainty. He is dressed from head to foot in homemade clothing and drives a gift-laden buckboard pulled swiftly through the sky by eight plump, friendly black bears. With grandpappy whiskers and a "how d'ye do" grin, Sainty gently prods his unusual team onward, calling them by name: "On, Bigfeet! On, Orn'ry! Molasses an' Rumbler! Up, Yowler! Up, Growler! On, Gumption an' Grumbler!" Before the night is through, Sainty will visit all the good little boys and girls throughout the mountains and hills. As he begins his journey homeward, a voice calls out loud and clear: "Merry Christmas, ole boy, Y'all come back, yuh hear!" Written in mountain-country dialect by Thomas Noel Turner, a native of the region and a professor of education at the University of Tennessee, Hillbilly Night Afore Christmas draws its inspiration from Rice's hugely successful first book, Cajun Night Before Christmas. The latter volume, first published in 1973 and now with more than 400,000 copies in print, has become a Christmas classic in itself. James Rice is widely acclaimed as the South's leading author and illustrator of juvenile books. With more than one million copies of his books in print, he ranks among the nation's top authors and illustrators. Rice completed his M.F.A. at Stephen F. Austin State University. He holds degrees in art from the University of Texas and Howard Payne College and has taught art and music at both the high school and college levels.Turner, Thomas Noel is the author of 'Hillbilly Night Afore Christmas' with ISBN 9780882893679 and ISBN 088289367X.