OK, well it’s technically not night time yet, but as it’s Christmas Eve all day, I thought I’d share with you the three different editions we have of this famously festive poem.
All of them are beautifully illustrated and manage to quietly but powerfully evoke the magic of this very special night. I grew up knowing the poem very well, though we didn’t have a family tradition of reading it together. However, being somewhat of a fan of starting family traditions now that we have C and H, I am keen to start such a ritual and to see which version of the poem the boys prefer. Last year, this first one was their favourite.
This book also has an audio CD that comes with it and this has been popular with C and H all year round. I am now so well used to hearing Peter, Paul and Mary singing their interpretation of the poem that it doesn’t feel particularly exciting to hear it during the festive season, but the book has only been brought out this weekend so I am enjoying it afresh! Just look at these gorgeous endpapers, which are probably my favourite part of the book:
In each book I’ve snapped the spread that illustrates the end of the poem just as a point of comparison, so here’s that shot for this version:
Next up is the edition of the book I’ve had for the longest time. The above was a gift for H from my sister, for his first Christmas. This next version was given to me by my husband about a decade ago and I just love the the warm glow of the illustrations and the vintage feel of the typeface that has been used.
Pictured below is my favourite page from this book. It encapsulates so much of what made Christmas so amazing for me as a child (despite the fact that my childhood home looked nothing like this and despite the fact that we very rarely had snow on Christmas Eve!). I used to strain my ears, desperately trying to single out the sound of a sleigh bell or frolicking hoof, wondering, waiting, wishing… and then falling fast asleep. The next morning, I used to love those magical first few seconds where you feel as though literally anything could have happened overnight and you could burst with the anticipation of it all. (One year, I actually did burst, but that was more to with having consumed enough chocolate to sink a small ship and then leaping around the room with excitement at having received the jigsaw I wanted. Yep, I was THAT cool.)
Here’s the picture:
And here’s the spread that illustrates the end of the poem:
The third and final book I’d like to share is probably my current favourite of the three. I haven’t yet shared this with C and H due to the delicate nature of some of the paper-cut pages, but I think that certainly C is now old enough to appreciate it and treat it with enough care (and I feel as though I *should* share it with him, given that this was a present from my lovely sister for his first Christmas).
The festive red and green, combined with the touches of gold, work well alongside the predominant black and white to suggest a slightly more understated approach to Christmas than we may be used to nowadays. The simplicity of the colours also means we can focus more closely upon the magic of the text and the way that the clever paper-work uses flaps, open ‘windows’ and other such features to lead us through the book and become immersed in the story.
However, the spread that illustrates the end of the poem is breathtaking and nothing I could write about it, nor even my photo, could possibly do it justice. Father Christmas and his reindeer take off in 3D flight across the disappearing the town below, leaving the reader in a state of almost incomprehensible excitement about the imminent arrival at their own home of that ‘jolly old elf’ we wait all year to see!
All three versions of this poem are marvellous and any one of them would make a glorious gift, but as far as I’m concerned, you’re having a happy Christmas if you have a few chances here and there to snuggle up with ANY book! That, a glass of mulled wine (or hot Ribena for those younger readers) and a huge stash of mince pies and chocolate and you’re in for a pretty good time.