The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
Children’s Non Fiction
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books
Age range: All ages
Review by Ben
I’ve been asked to write this review as a ‘kids book review’ but in all honesty I get as much pleasure from reading this as my kids do. ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ is a poem written in America in 1822. It’s well out of copyright so there are myriad versions out there, from the lavishly illustrated paperback that we have, to the small yellow hardback that goes on the shelf when my mum puts her decorations up and comes down to be read, but only on Christmas Eve.
There were probably years I didn’t read this on Christmas eve but it’s become a fixture once again. But is it any good?
Yes, is the short answer. On a practical level, it’s relatively short and it has a pleasant, easy going meter. You might not think this would matter but for younger children who may not understand all the words, the gentle sway and rhythm makes for an enjoyable experience (see also Julia Donaldson’s many classics).
The material itself is joyous, telling the story of every young child’s dream, a stolen glimpse of Santa and his reindeer. In this telling, Santa is tiny, though he bears all the hallmarks of the Santa we still know and love today.
I love this poem because Christmas can be loud, obnoxious and stressful and this poem reminds me it’s not like that at all. It’s a gentle experience, characterised by love and family. While Coca Cola may well claim to have given us the modern vision of Santa, Father Christmas would get nowhere without Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Those reindeer didn’t originate from a marketing brainstorm, it came from an American poet I had never heard of, who, for a long time after, insisted on remaining anonymous.
When the presents are wrapped and the panic of Christmas Eve is over, I sit with my children and enjoy this poem just as much as I did for as long as I remember and it reminds me of the real point of Christmas.
Buy the book on Amazon.