Sunday, December 12, 2010

To All a Good Night: The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Eric Puybaret

Versions of Clement C. Moore's 1823 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," written for his own children to hear on Christmas Eve, are everywhere this time of year--from pedestrian mass-market titles to full-blown beauties illustrated by noted artists of the past decades. Image Books has one more worthy of consideration as the copy for that honored place on Christmas Eve around the family Christmas tree.

Illustrated by the noted Eric Puybaret, The Night Before Christmas (Image Books, 2010) features the artist's stylized Santa, dressed in the long carmine, ermine-trimmed robe of the legendary Bishop Nicholas, his reindeer clad in graceful green cloaks with golden trim, and even his Christmas Eve night attired in the elegant colors of the midnight blue sky and glittering silver moon.

It is an altogether engaging presentation, but the piece de resistance is the accompanying CD which features the final recorded performance of Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul, and Mary, narrating "A Visit from Saint Nicholas." "Her health was fragile, but her spirit was bright," on that day, and the fact that the performance was recorded in her home in Connecticut adds to the intimacy of her familiar warm voice. Paul Stookey contributes his own musical version of Moore's poem, and the third performance on the accompanying CD features the group's famous version of "A-Soalin'"

This book/CD set is a heirloom keeper, one to pack away with the Christmas decorations and take out lovingly each year for a return engagement.

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