Clement C. Moore’s 200 year old poem is known by nearly all American children today, if only by the opening line of, “Twas The Night Before Christmas..”. It’s a poem for every parent to share in anticipation of waking up and opening presents, to create a tradition of breathless anticipation and family warmth. Really, the only question is which illustrator to grace the story.
While some parents may prefer more modern illustrations, others appreciate a more vintage feel. With W.W. Denslow, we have the same art as was used through most of Baum’s original Wizard of Oz books. Indeed, most of the people in Denslow’s work do look like munchkins or merry elves – but in the very best way. The appeal of Denslow’s art is its Arts and Crafts era roots: warm, rich, grounded colors in deep saturated jewel tones and the innocence of a time before two great wars would ravage the century.
Dover has given us an unabridged republication of the work originally published in 1902. Since this is a vintage piece, be prepared for a bit of political incorrectness from some of the vintage toys (e.g., an ‘Al Jolson Jazz Singer’ type mechanical figure). But that bit of blight aside, it is such a pleasure to see all the old toys from 1902 – no Transformers or Barbie to be found.
The book features the original introduction, a sweet confectionery ode to Clement C. Moore and also lavishly illustrated by Denslow. The poem itself features smaller artwork around large text pages (2 lines per page) and then a full page (or 2-page) image illustration. At 84 odd pages for a short poem, there is a lot of artwork to love in here.
I grew up with the original Wizard of Oz and so greatly enjoyed this illustrated version of a Christmas classic. It’s a book to bring out every year and then treasure once the kids have grown and have children of their own.
Reviewed from an ARC.