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Exploring the Children’s Reading World with Parents and Educators –

Newfangled Nights Before Christmas November 10, 2008

A couple of nights ago while my husband and I were browsing in the children’s section (where else?) of a local bookstore, a Christmas-themed book caught Josh’s eye. A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas happens to be a new addition to the shelves this holiday season, and it’s a worthy and clever twist on Clement Moore’s classic The Night Before Christmas: The Heirloom Edition (Moore’s original title was A Visit From St. Nicholas).

Of course, we never tire of the classic version, but I think the seamless transition of Santa to Old Sir Peggedy and reindeer to a team of seahorses is a worthwhile departure. I’m not always a fan of rhyming books, either — you know how that is, rhymes are usually so forced — but Philip Yates does a superb job. I don’t mind at all the use of “thar” as a rhyming word. It is pirate lingo, after all.

The whimsical illustrations by Sebastia Serra and characters are perfect, and bring to my mind Melinda Long and David Shannon’s How I Became a Pirate, though maybe just by virtue that it’s a kid’s pirate story. Yates’ is plenty original, from the stockings stuck to the ship’s prow with tar (that happens to go with the “thar” rhyme) to the child pirate narrator’s disappointing-turned-amazing Christmas offering from Peggedy himself.

Newfangled versions of The Night Before Christmas are certainly not new, and Cajun Night Before Christmas (Night Before Christmas Series) is testimony to that. My children were entranced by it when I brought it home from the Y a few years ago, on loan from the aquatics director. It’s one catchy tale.

And I’m not particularly fond of series, either (I’m on a roll today, aren’t I) because of the similar forced feel, but there are some cute titles in the Night Before Christmas Series that might make perfect matches for some people on your list — say, the popular Teachers’ Night Before Christmas (Night Before Christmas Series), or even Redneck Night Before Christmas (Night Before Christmas Series) (which is funny but not for children, and which might be a risky purchase for someone you don’t know well).

Take a look at this series to see if a few fit the people you know. And by all means, bring home A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas for your little swashbucklers. We did, and plan to whip it out as a surprise when our night before Christmas reaches fever pitch and we need a burst of fun to help us make it through.

posted by Janie McQueen, author of The New Magic Bookshelf: Finding Great Books Your Child Will Treasure Forever

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5 Responses to “Newfangled Nights Before Christmas”

  1. A great idea to have those books for Christmas Eve, I will be taking a good look at them as i have 2 year old twins who just love a good story, especially one about Pirates 🙂

  2. Philip Yates Says:

    Ha! The author himself extends his thanks for the hearty review of the Pirate’s Night Before Christmas. Have a yo-ho-holiday!
    Philip Yates

  3. jbmcqueen Says:

    Yo (ho ho) Mr. Yates, you rock! Thanks for checking in!

    Janie McQueen

  4. Tami Says:

    I can’t wait to check out the Teacher’s Night Before Christmas. I think that it would make a great teacher’s gift that could be given early! 🙂

  5. jbmcqueen Says:

    Yeah!! 🙂


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