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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Night Before

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

I realize that tonight is really the night BEFORE the night before (unless you're like us, and Santa comes to your house early), but I thought I'd share a few more of our family's favorite holiday books, just in time for Christmas Eve.

I've always loved the poem by Clement C. Moore, sometimes called "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and sometimes called "The Night Before Christmas".  When I was in college, taking a sign language class, we had to memorize a story or poem or song and then tell it to the class using sign language.  I chose Moore's poem and, in addition to signing it for my class-mates and teacher, I also recited and signed it for all of my relatives gathered at Grandma's house on Christmas Day that year.  I still know all the words by heart.  (Remem-bering all the signs is a different story!)

It's probably not a surprise that with my large collection of Christmas stories, I own several books that feature Moore's poem.  I really enjoy seeing how different illustrators interpret the words.  Here are a few of our favorites:

The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Tomie de Paola, 1980...  I've owned this book since I was a teenager, and have always loved the colorful illustrations.  They remind me of elaborate quilts.

Little Critter's The Night Before Christmas, retold and illustrated by Mercer Mayer, 1992...  Mayer made a few small changes to Moore's text, like writing "critter" instead of "creature" and replacing "St. Nicholas" with "Santa Claus", but the poem remains mostly the same.  My kids especially like this version of the story because they get a kick out of Mayer's amusing illustrations.  They also love to look for Little Critter's mouse friend on every page.

The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Jan Brett, 1998.  Through her illustrations, Brett adds additional information to this poem.  While the main pictures focus on Moore's words, the side pictures on each page spread show other characters who are never mentioned, such as Santa's elves and the family's pets.  All of Brett's illustrations are rich in detail.

The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Mary Engelbreit, 2002.  This is my favorite version of Moore's story, probably because I am a huge fan of Engelbreit's artwork.  I just love the bright colors and the fanciful drawings!  To me, this book exudes the child-like wonder and joy that I associate with Christmas.

Do you have a favorite version of this poem?  If so, please share it.  I'd love to hear about it!

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