by Mark Kimball Moulton
Susan Winget, illustrator
Mr. Moulton: Since the “Night before Christmas” was first conceived, we’re certain many have wondered about the story behind the story. How did this cherished holiday poem come to be. What event, or series of events, inspired a principled, highly educated Biblical scholar to compose such a tender and magical Christmas tale?
The answer, according to Ms. Dinghy Sharp and the Moored family legend, is a simple one—it was the heartfelt love of a parent for his child.
We are honored to share Ms. Sharp’s story in the same spirit as her ancestor, Clement Moore, first offered his tale so many years ago . . . as a gift of love to all little children everywhere, for evermore.
Opening: “Only once in forever / ‘tis rarer than rare /that one hears such a story/as I’d like to share.”
The Visit is both a lovely tribute to a man and his classic poem, and an insightful story remaking the what, where, and why of this poem’s creation. Told to the author by a relative of Clement Moore, the legend of The Night before Christmas—originally titled An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicholas—helps the author create an inspiring story.
Clement Moore is home and relaxing when Mrs. Moore sends him to the butcher. The Christmas dinner needed a goose. If Mr. Moore did not take off at that moment, Mrs. Moore would cook his goose. On the way, the weather suddenly changed. The snow was so thick visibility was nearly zero, but the horses knew where they were going . . . until they refused to move.
The clouds had cleared, the moon shone above, and the frozen snow looked like twinkling diamonds. Clement Moore was enchanted. (The “where.”) From where the horses stalled, Clement clearly saw the town. Behind the buildings, a friend loaded his sleigh with wood. Jan Peter sported a red coat and hood, covering his white bearded face. Smoking a clay pipe, the overweight man’s nose was red from the cold air. (The “what.”) Secretly, he delivered wood to the doors of the hungry and poor, giving what he had to give: a warm Christmas. Mr. Moore believed his friend was “a true saint.” (The “why.”)
Between the man’s selfless actions and his general look, an idea popped into Mr. Moore’s head. He knew what he would write for his daughter, who had requested a new story for Christmas. Now that story is a classic and Clement Moore ate a nice goose dinner that Christmas.
The Visit reads like a classic story. The lines, written to the rhythm of The Night before Christmas, are inspiring in themselves. Anyone wondering how or when a muse appears will love this true story. This Visit can become the newest Christmas tradition. With The Night before Christmas also in the book—in Clement Moore’s own handwriting—both stories should become a classic-duo.
The illustrations have a traditional 1800’s feel to them. In pastels, on brown “writing paper,” the illustrations look like Currier and Ives originals. This is a beautiful book—originally released in 2001—with a rich history, and a classic story written in the author’s own handwriting. If this is not enough to make The Visit the book of Christmas 2013, I have no idea what will.
Released October 28, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7643-4575-3 (HDC) 978-0-7643-4238-7 (eB)
Age 4 and up
THE VISIT: THE ORIGIN OF THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Text copyright © 2001, 2013 by Mark Kimball Moulton. Illustrations copyright © 2001, 2013 by Susan Winget. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Schiffer Books, Atglen PA.
Original Cover, 2001
The time to VOTE is drawing near.
Please VOTE today, and never fear.
This VOTING happens but once a year.
- Erik’s Christmas Picks 2013 (thiskidreviewsbooks.com)
- A Very Famous Christmas Poem (witlessdatingafterfifty.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: The Night Before Christmas (knackeredhousewife.com)
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore, illustrated by Holly Hobbie – Children’s Book Review (apartmenttherapy.com)