I'm now on a fourth edition of this poem and, to keep them straight, the ISBN of each edition is at the start of its review. The first, ISBN 0785313648 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Candy Cane Books) (3 stars), began with a sentence I'm going to copy and paste here: While there's no question that the original poem by Clement Moore is a five star piece of work, there are so many versions of this poem in print that any review has to be of the entire book, with more weight on the illustrations, the only difference between them. I suggest potential customers pay attention to which reviews apply to which book, as there's quite a difference in quality.
The classic poem, wherein the narrator hears noise on the lawn on Christmas Eve and, responding to it, sees Santa in his sleigh land on the roof, come down the chimney, etc. The narrator, the father of the family, watches Santa place gifts under the tree and, when done, hop in his sleigh and fly away.
ISBN 0307637506 - (5 stars) Illustrator Cyndy Szekeres and Golden Books measure up to the standard set by Moore. Szekeres's family is one of mice, which always makes for some fun illustrations. The "wreath" on the family's door is one leaf and one holly berry; the parents' bed is a sardine can; Santa sits on a single die to review his list and the endtable is a thread spool while a large family photo has a locket for a frame. These little touches of whimsy are fun and cute. All ages love the poem, children in particular will love the mice and their adorable adapted furnishings.
ISBN 0307119564 - (3 stars) Illustrators Greg and Tim Hildebrandt did an okay job, just nothing special. The Santa on the cover looks a little bug-eyed, which makes him seem to be leering... which, in turn, makes it an unattractive cover. The inside illustrations are on the old-fashioned side, and they complement the poem well. The detail is nice and the decorated tree is one of the best images - although the decorations on the tree change from page to page. Not bad, just not the best.
ISBN 1556702744 - (5 stars) Joyce Patti's illustrations, paired with the unique 3D shadow box pages set this edition apart. The book is small, about 5" x 5" and just over 1/2" thick, which makes it a good take along book, but the delicate-ness of the shadow boxes makes it a poor choice for a child to handle much. As each page is opened, the shadow box will pop up and display a beautiful, multi-layered image. The images are small but remarkably detailed. The trick, by the way, is to make sure you're holding the page edges down with your right thumb, or the effect is lost. A nice presentation of a classic.
This remarkable gift edition of the night before christmas features:
6 3dimensional shadow-box scenes, the complete, unabridged version of the classic Christmas poem, original artwork on every page. This is a secular book and does not mention the religious aspect of Christmas.