My first attempt was in the vein of Hieronymus Bosch, a sleigh loaded up with monsters. It was shaping up to look pretty cool, but I could see that it was in no way a children’s book illustration. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that it going to win the contest. I wondered if it even might get rejected for being too creepy.
By way of the Grinch, I came around to Krampus. In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, long-tongued figure who looks much like the Devil. He’s the anti-Santa Claus, punishing bad children during the Christmas season, while Saint Nicholas rewards the good ones. It’s still sinister, but it is a children’s story.
I found an old postcard image of Krampus pulling a little girl’s hair. That’s one of the milder punishments. In some stories, Krampus would cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell.