T’was the day before Christmas and our 24th book is a version of the well-known classic poem, The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore. This particular book is a beautiful shape book from 1962 by Whitman Publishing Company.
The lilting rhymes and vintage style of writing about the visit of St. Nick are paired with a lovely die-cut book and bold, detailed illustrations.
I found this softcover book in an old, dusty used bookstore a few years ago. The long, skinny, and unique cut of the book spoke of its treasure before I even opened it. The pages are packed to the edges with colorful images and occasional hand-lettering.
I have struggled to find any information about the illustrator of this version which makes me very sad as I love it so. The poem can become so familiar and tiresome, but the fun illustrations and shape of this book make it feel somewhat new.
The famous poem was first published anonymously in 1823 as “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Later, on the insistence of his children, Clement Moore claimed authorship. It is “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American” (source) and has largely influenced the story of St. Nick including his clothing, transportation, the names and number of his reindeer, and his bringing toys for children.
I don’t know the exact figure, but I’m guessing this poem has hundreds and perhaps even thousands of illustrated versions. I love the 60s style of these images. The people have a quirky expression to them and Santa, an almost cartoon-like quality. There are so many fun details in the backgrounds that give such a textured feeling of home and Christmas. I especially love all the unique angles and perspective that show such movement and rhythm. If anyone knows the illustrator, please share!
I hope as you prepare for the big day tomorrow, you have a moment to reflect on such lovely traditions as reading this old poem in whatever illustrated style you hold dear. “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!”
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas Books.