Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Collecting The Night Before Christmas

Did you know that the famous poem by Dr. Clement C. Moore had a huge part in defining the “Santa” tradition in the U.S.? He was a native New Yorker who wrote it for his children in 1822 and titled it “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”  Before the poem was published, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with reindeers, chimneys and a sleigh full of toys.

Even now, as my kids outgrow their belief in Santa, they still love reading the poem leading up to and on Christmas Eve, and each year we come close to memorizing it, only to forget it by the following December. My first copy might have been this one, done in cloth, that E got when she was a baby.

Here I am, thinking I had a very antique copy of the poem here. Actually, it's a reproduction from the New York Public Library. Look how Santa is dressed in this edition!

This version by the renowned pop-up artist Robert Sabuda quickly followed.

That got us hooked on collecting new versions, by different illustrators. It’s fun to see the different interpretations. Below, Jane Chambless.

Did you have any books when you were a kid that were illustrated by Leonard Weisgard? The Caldecott award winner was preeminent in his day – maybe best known for the many classic Golden Books he illustrated, and his collaborations with Margaret Wise Brown.

Speaking of Margaret Wise Brown, does this illustration from Grandma Moses remind you of another famous room in a children's storybook?

Bruce Whatley gets the reindeer award.
Some other favorites...

Check out the outstanding cutouts in this one by Niroot Puttapipat.

And here is another one by Grandma Moses.

This edition from Chronicle Books, features lots of classics from bygone eras.

I have a few editions on my wish list: those by Tasha Tudor and Jesse Wilcox Smith. Maybe there are others I’m missing? Wouldn't it be great to have one by Edward Gorey, Dr. Seuss or Elizabeth Sayles?  And I wonder, if you could have one illustrated by an artist of your choice, who would it be?

Would you believe my youngest wore this getup to school today?

Wishing you all the happiness
the season will allow.


Talon said...

It's a classic read at our house, too - and I have a new version done in an antique style that is lovely.

When I think of Margaret Wise Brown I immediately think of "Goodnight Moon".

One of my favorite children's book illustrators is Barbara Reid who works in clay and plasticine. I love the vibrancy of her work and I would love to see that story illustrated by her! And Dr. Suess would have had a fabulous interpretation and would have been wonderful to see, too!

That photo of your youngest is priceless! Way to get in the spirit! That had me giggling!

Hope you and your family have a beautiful Christmas, JGH!

Joanne said...

What a beautiful and unique collection you have. I love the illustrations by Leonard Weisgard, they are just so comforting. He definitely has a way with illustrations, making you want to pause on each one.

It's been a fun year on the blogs, and here's to wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a joyous and healthy New Year too. Enjoy!

LazyMom said...

Love the Santa suit!

AshKuku said...

Lovely cutouts.... I simply love them on bed time story books.... It urges you to read more.... & your young one looks cute in that Santa getup....

May God bless you & your family with all the happiness & joy around.....Merry Christmas to you from me & my hubby....

Happy Celebrations!!!!!!!!!


VE said...

I love interesting collections like that. I have the largest crayon box collection in the world with boxes going back to the late 1800s.

Ronda Laveen said...

What a fantastic collection! In the antique reproduction, santa looks more like a leprachaun!

Your son looks adorable.

Happy Holiday!

tut-tut said...

Merry Christmas, JGH, and ho ho ho

Pam J. said...

The Grandma Moses painting is so sweet, and I love the connection with Goodnight Moon, my all-time favorite. A beautiful post, that I'll come back to over the holidays. It's 12:10 AM on Dec 25 so Merry Christmas!

Anna/Flowergardengirl said...

You are by far my favorite mother! How come you couldn't raise me?? Ok, I'm old enough to be your mother but you would have been so much fun and I would be lots smarter today. I read your post on the edge of my chair always. Big hugs and Merry Christmas my sweet friend. Love this Night Before Christmas collection of yours.

Pam J. said...

I knew I'd come back to this post and enjoy it when I had time to do it justice. Such beautiful drawings and paintings! I fell in love with the "And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap" drawing near the end. I hope your family is enjoying this day after Christmas (actually, today is my favorite day of the year).

Karen said...

What a great collection! We have a kind of sickly-sweet one passed down from my mom, pictures by Gyo Fujikawa. I would love a Gorey one or maybe Taro Gomi or David Wiesner. Hope you had a great day!

JGH said...

Talon, "Goodnight Moon" is the one I was thinking of! I just looked at Barbara Reid's site - very original and creative.

Joanne, I know what you mean about Weisgard - so nostalgic.

Lazymom - $11 at Party City. We got a discount because the belt was missing.

Thanks for visiting, Ashkuku- happy holidays to you, too!

VE - that's amazing! I don't know anyone else who collects those.

Ronda, I wonder if Clement C. Moore was Irish (?)

Tut, tut - Ho Ho!!

Pam J. - Thanks! When I saw that Grandma Moses picture I started looking for the bunny and the old lady whispering "hush"!

Anna, that is so nice - I bet you were a sweet little girl. And your sons are very lucky to have you. Happy holidays to all of you.

Karen, that's a new name for me. I'll have to look for that Fujikawa one.