Clement C. Moore (text) & Eric Puybaret (illustrations)(Macmillan Children’s Books)

The Night Before Christmas was first published, anonymously, in 1823 in a New York newspaper under the title A Visit from St Nicholas, and was later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. The cultural significance of this poem cannot be underestimated; it is largely responsible for the legend of Santa Claus as we know it today: his appearance, his bringing toys to children, his sleigh, and even the numbers and names of his reindeer! We all know bits of the text, and sometimes even in its entirety! It is certainly a classic and one each household should have a copy of for Christmas. There are hundreds of illustrated versions, and each household will have a family favourite. But if you have not got a copy yet, please consider this beautiful new edition, illustrated by French illustrator Eric Puybaret. His unique style and beautiful double spreads bring new life to the classic verse. The use of colour is outstanding and each illustration is filled with so much detail that young children will spend a long time pouring over the artwork. I think Puybaret’s style is magical because he is able to recreate depth in his illustrations; there is a fantastic 3D feel to them. There is also a hazy, dreamy feel to his artwork, which helps convey the magic of this special time of year.

This beautiful gift edition also includes a CD by Peter, Paul and Mary. Now I had never heard of them but I have since found out they were a big American folk band from the 1960s. It includes a performance of the poem set to music, then a reading of the poem, then one of Peter, Paul and Mary’s holiday songs A’Soalin. I am not sure the CD is particularly child-friendly, and as I don’t think they are that famous in this country, I don’t think there will be a nostalgic attraction for parents. However, rather than being the main feature of the book, I think this is just a nice extra; it certainly is not a hindrance to have the CD there and you might as well have a listen!

A most beautiful book which will make a very special pre-Christmas gift, and the perfect opportunity to start the tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas each Christmas Eve.

Sent for review by publisher.