While we don't own a book about the real St. Nicholas, we do own several copies of The Night Before Christmas. Thanks to Sterling Children's Books, we had the chance to read a newly illustrated version of Clement C. Moore's beloved poem.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; illustrated by Robert Ingpen; Sterling (October 2010); ISBN 9781402781827; 48 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher
For those that celebrate Christmas, owning a copy of The Night Before Christmas is almost a requirement. On Christmas Eve, many people read the poem, in addition to the Biblical story of Jesus' birth. Robert Ingpen's gorgeously illustrated picture book is an excellent interpretation of this familiar poem and makes a wonderful addition to any Christmas book collection.
The incredible paintings in this version balance the fantasy of the story with realism. Ingpen creates a warm, idealized Christmas with highly textured illustrations full of feathery brush strokes and depth. A traditional, classic Santa Claus with a wrinkled, weathered face, full beard, rosy cheeks and fabulous red suit takes center stage in the book. He visits a simple manor house adorned with a tower and several chimneys, a house that could have very well existed at the time the poem was first written. Ingpen's interpretation does not include whimsical touches, like showing sugarplums dancing, but instead the images display the magic of the night in a subdued way.
The book works well as a read-aloud, and is set with an easy-to-read, large font, perfect for low-light environments on Christmas Eve. A short biography of Clement Clarke Moore in the beginning of the book explains the origins of his poem, a story originally intended as a Christmas present for his children. I especially love the well-crafted design and detail displayed in this book. Underneath the dustcover is a bright-red, fabric cover with a simple, classic inset. The endpapers show a starry sky and if you look closely, it almost looks like St. Nick has magically disappeared into the night.
Robert Ingpen has also illustrated several other classics including The Christmas Carol. He's an accomplished Australian author and illustrator and has won several awards for his works.
It's not too late to start counting down to Christmas. My daughter made an adorable Santa Claus out of construction paper. His cotton beard marks the days until Christmas arrives. She started by gluing on 24 cotton balls onto her red-nosed Santa and each day she removes a cotton ball from Santa's beard. I've seen other versions of this craft, but they all usually involve gluing on a cotton ball to mark the days instead of taking one off. I like the idea of removing rather than adding because you don't have to keep a supply of cotton balls and glue handy to use every day.
For other versions of this fun craft, visit the following websites:
Kaboose.com Santa Advent Calendar Craft
First-School.ws Santa Craft Calendar
Oopsey Daisy Santa Beard Countdown with accompanying poem
Sterling Children's Books has graciously offered to giveaway a copy of this lovely, classically styled version of The Night Before Christmas to a Brimful Curiosities reader.
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