The Night Before Christmas Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-09-24 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 3 user ratings

" This is a lovely story for Christmas. Just read this to my 4 year old niece, who loved it too. The version I read to her is illustrated by Henry Fisher. The illustrations are gorgeous. " said.

" Seriously the cutest book out there for young and old alike. I have read this book since I was a kid and it always makes me smile. This version has illustrations in it that I think will definitely keep any and all kids entranced with it.My family used to read this book the night before Christmas. We also used to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas before bed too. A great book to get you in the holiday mood! " said.

"This book tells the classic story of The Night Before Christmas, but with special cut outs and a beautiful pop-up finale. I really liked this book, because it tells a story that children know and love with a beautiful addition to it. The illustrations are done in mostly black and white, and are very beautiful. Beyond that, the cut out sections in them allow one illustration to illustrate two sections of the story just by turning the page. Last but not least, the pop-up finale is very intricate and quite pretty. The only downside to this book is that the pop-up section is delicate, so younger children may damage it easily if an adult doesn't pay close attention to them while they're reading it. " said.

"Descriptions of human sacrifice and the power of blood magic are commonplace throughout history, but one — Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS — takes place on the eve of a holiday that most consider a time of joy, happiness and generosity. This makes a poem that would be unsettling in any circumstances an intense, dark and enduring tale of supernatural horror.

Set on the eve of the eponymous Christian feast day, the book begins innocently enough, with a desperately poor family bedding down for the night in their rodent-infested hovel. The home’s malnourished children sleep, dreaming not of extravagant gifts, but paltry sweets that might ease the pain of their bloated bellies; they hope against hope that simple balls of sugar might replace their hunger pangs with, for at least a little while, a pittance of holiday cheer before they have to set out on another day of begging on street corners.

" said.

"Following the classic Christmas tale, this version of the story is made special by the illustrations. Brallier has created fifteen stained glass illustrations for the book. They range from holiday mantles to close ups of the reindeer and of course Santa Claus. Santa does not wear a red hat here but instead has the robes of an English Santa Claus. It makes the feel all the more timeless and special.

Throughout, Brallier has small touches that are worth finding. I was entranced by her use of smaller mosaic pictures on the walls as art. She also includes decorations on blankets and tassels as well as snowflakes in the snow and stars in the sky. Though the art is done in such a hard medium, there is no feeling of the limitations put on the art by that. In fact, the depth of color and the texture of the mosaic glass add much to the book.

My only quibble would be that I’d love to have had an illustrator’s note at the end of the book about her process in creating the illustrations. I’d love to have a sense of their scale. Happily, details like this are available on the author’s blog.

A gorgeous new version of a Christmas classic, this one is worth sharing as a holiday treat. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
" said.

"How many decades ago did I memorize this poem, "Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash...." Does any kid now hearing this know what a "sash" is, not to mention a chimney etc. "As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly...": now as we await the wet leaves--and yacht boating boots--of the Republicans at their national convention hall in Tampa, a full foot above sea level at least: has anyone ever seen DRY leaves flying before a hurricane?
Sounds like someone from NY who has never seen a hurricane, possibly Clement Moore himself, possibly the one from whom some say he borrowed it.
I have said it from memory to my kids and maybe one grandkid, though now whole swatches of it have washed down the drain with other hurricane detritus.
There's a wonderful book by historian Stephen Nissenbaum on the growth of Santa over the long 19C, from a little man, the "right jolly old elf" of this 1822 offering, with his "stump of a pipe"--the remnant of a pottery pipe, a sign that this elf Santa was not properous--to the grand, well dressed and long-pipestemmed santas of today's bourgeois cards. In the poem, Santa is an intruder, the vestige of the old Christmas which was rather like our Halloween, with people coming to the door for chestnuts for a carol--not very different from beggars. In the poem, Santa is feared--though his smile "soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread." And his dress doesn't help, "his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot." The gifts he distributes all fit in a stocking-- he "filled all the stockings...."
As the avatar of intrusive magic, Santa is powerful but not entirely welcome, a poorly-dressed, poorly-piped elf. Santa the smoker! Ah, times
have changed.
" said.

"If you have not yet heard this poem, first things first so that you have context to what I am talking about:

I am going to review this poem in the context of two other previous Christmas reads I have read: one by Milton and one by Dickens.

Now in my review of On The Morning Of Christ's Nativity: Milton's Hymn, I talked briefly of the culture of Christmas surrounding Milton during his lifetime and how it was a very different one from today. Christmas was a very solemn holy day and when the puritan sect that he belonged to came to power, all celebrations and festivals were out lawed in Great Britain and Colonial America. This marks the real beginning of the so-called "war on Christmas" that American conservatives like to bring up every year around this time.

In my review of A Christmas Carol, I touched on the effect this book had on reversing the puritan tide in the U.K. and U.S. and how the novella universalized (rather than actually secularized) the holiday. A Christmas Carol did not so much remove the religious aspect of the holiday as much as it did moderate temper them for a wider audience, but many of these moderating tropes have been easily co-opted into a more religious tone and I do not think Charles Dickens had ever minded this happening (though I argue his intent was more socio-economic, than religious). Now, while in America we see over and over the struggle of how to celebrate Christmas, with some wanting it more religious focus, some wanting a more universalist focus, and the rest of us in-between, it can be argued that, ironically, one of the biggest factors to Christmas' universalization came not from "secularized" Great Britain, but from the United States, itself. That brings us to this poem.

This poem brought arguably the figure who ended the actual so-called "war on Christmas," Santa Claus/Father Christmas. Based on and still referred to (as in this poem) after the actual Saint Nicholas of Myra, Santa Claus has done more to give universal force to Christmas than any other figure or politician and this poem is ground zero of it all in modern times. In 1823, Rev. Cement Clark More of New York City wrote a poem for his kids and later had it anonymously published. This poem standardized the look of Santa Claus as well as his principle mode of transportation and the names of his reindeer at that time. Moore borrowed heavily from already know tropes about this character in all its forms across northern Europe and combined them into one person that has come to be recognized all over the world and is known to most kids who like the idea of a guy coming every year and giving them free stuff. If any force did more to take Christmas out of its Christian origins, it was this work.

We live in an era were people celebrate or take part in religious festivals for reasons besides being a part of said religion. I have seen non-Muslims fast during Ramadan, and non-Jews celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas is not the only holiday that gets universal appeal, but it simply the one that has lead the charge.
" said.

"I had never read this before, I'm pretty sure - we certainly never had a copy in our house nor any pre-Christmas tradition of reading it, nothing like that. Probably my primary school had an old copy but I don't think I was too interested. So this was a new reading experience for me, one I approached without any memories or sense of nostalgia to guide me. I got it because it's such a classic, and I believe it's the origin of Santa's sleigh and reindeer (which are named), though don't quote me on that.

I decided to get the original edition - I love the old style of illustrations and I didn't want anything changed or edited. It's a classic, after all! What I found was a really delightful poem that carries with it a great sense of expectation, anticipation and atmosphere, far more than I would expect, and the descriptions had that Narnia quality - it's the only word I can think to describe it, but basically I mean the way things looked in an age gone by, an older period that's nostalgic to us now.

It's not the children who discover St. Nicholas, but their father, who is woken by the "clatter" of a sleigh and eight small reindeer, who waits for him to exit the chimney. I love the descriptions of Saint Nick, some of which I've included here, followed by their accompanying illustrations:

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot'
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler [sic] just opening his pack.

meeting st. nick

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.


He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

Stuffing stockings

I'm not sure how much of our current Santa mythology comes from this poem - I'll have to wait to find out when I read Gerry Bowler's Santa: A Biography later on - but whether it started anything or not, it's certainly played a big part in immortalising it all. Little has changed since this was published in 1912 - really the only thing different is that Santa was later dressed in Coca Cola colours for their own marketing, something we've been stuck with ever since. Another reason why I wanted the original, pre-Coca Cola illustrations.

This was a truly delightful read, in a purely nostalgic sense, and while I may not have grown up with it as a kid, it manages to bring back that sense of excitement and wonder and make you feel like a bit of a kid again, which is always a good feeling.
" said.

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