The Night Before Christmas in Wonderland / The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas in Wonderland
Carys Bexington and Kate Hindley
Macmillan Children’s Books

Demonstrating the true meaning of Christmas, this is a marvellous mix up of two classics– Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas.

It begins thus: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, a dark snowy night / When St Nick and his reindeer were just taking flight.’

Debut picture book author, Carys Bexington manages to sustain the jaunty rhyme unfalteringly throughout the tale. Therein she gives Santa aka St. Nick a turn to go adventuring down the rabbit hole when he responds to the plea of the Princess of Hearts who sends a letter begging for a Christmas present after her parents have said no.

Having made their way down the royal chimney St. Nick plus reindeer come upon a decidedly unseasonal scene and disturb the Queen of Hearts. She, we learn hates Christmas because as a little princess, her Dear Santa letter missed the last post on account of the White rabbit’s tardiness and so she was presentless.

As a consequence, presents, along with tinsel, mince pies and good cheer are all banned.

Now though, at long last, it’s time to deliver that gift to the erstwhile little princess.

Can St. Nick succeed in restoring the ‘Happy’ into Christmas? Perhaps, but only if her royal grumpiness, the Queen of Hearts responds positively to Rudolph’s assertion, that alluded to at the start of this review.

A full cast that includes the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, are depicted in Kate Hindley’s absolutely priceless scenes of seasonal mayhem and festive frolics, each of which is bursting with delicious details and Kate’s own brand of brilliance.

The Night Before Christmas
Clement C. Moore and Roger Duvoisin
Scallywag Press

If you are looking for a version of the classic Clement Clarke Moore seasonal poem this year then I’d wholeheartedly recommend this superbly designed one first published in 1954.

Its tall, slim shape and size is perfect chimney shaped design and here we follow Santa – portly and with an enormous beard – as he alights on the rooftop and slides down the chimney of the narrator’s residence (in how many homes would that be possible nowadays?).

Observant readers who are familiar with Duvoisin’s creation for Louise Fatio’s The Happy Lion will spot the striking resemblance of one of the soft toys left as a gift, to said lion.

Retro brilliance this!

Santa, Santa, Santa …

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Waiting for Santa
Steve Metzger and Alison Edgson
Little Tiger Press
This really is Christmas enchantment, small furry animal style.
It’s Christmas Eve and Bear is awake before his friends. ”We’ve got to get ready for Santa Claus!” he informs them excitedly. Badger however, doesn’t share his enthusiasm: “Santa’s not coming … He doesn’t even know we’re here!” he grumbles.
His other pals are unsure but fortunately Bear’s enthusiasm wins them round and so under his direction they rally, busying themselves making signs,

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preparing snacks for Santa’s reindeer and decorating a Christmas tree. This they sit down beside, once they’ve managed to tie the star atop, that is. It’s a long wait for Santa’s arrival and as night falls and they sup their cocoa, doubt starts to creep in; even Bear begins to feel anxious,

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but then up in the sky …

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That’s not quite where we leave the friends though: Santa needs a little help with his delivery round and one of their number (heartily endorsed by Badger) goes off with him on the sleigh.
A sweet story focusing on the build up to the big day; the animals are relatively undemanding rather than greedy about presents; and I particularly like the element of teamwork. Alison Edgson’s soft scenes are a delight and the tense atmosphere as the friends sit under the tree waiting is almost palpable.

There seems to be a plethora of cute seasonal stories for the under sixes this year; here’s another:

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Santa Baby
Smriti Prasadam Halls and Ada Grey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Disappointed that he cannot accompany Santa on his delivery round, Santa Baby complains to Roo and both agree it’s no fun being small. But when they step indoors what do they find but two large parcels left behind.


Fearing a child will be left presentless on Christmas morn, it’s a case of dashing through the snow, “We’re off to save the day.” But can they do just that in the face of super snowball fighting elf friends, slippy, sliding penguins and a rather reckless midnight loop-the-loop?


And who are the recipients of the two parcels they’ve risked life and limb to deliver? To discover the answers, you’ll have to get a copy of this charmingly illustrated, delightful, rhyming story (that echoes the patterning of The Night before Christmas), and share it with young listeners.


How to Catch Santa
Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish
Hodder Children’s Books
The recipe is as before if you’re familiar with the amusing ‘How to’ series from the Reagan/Wildish team – well kind of.
The spirited youngsters are on hand to furnish Santa-catching instructions but first there are all manner of considerations. Questions for Santa “How do you stay clean?” for instance and things you want to tell him – “I’m trying very hard to be good.” is pretty important. Then you might want to give HIM something – ‘A nose-warmer for cold sleigh rides’ should go down well.
Of course, none of this is any use unless you actually manage to catch the man and some ways are definitely NOT top of the list …


What’s needed instead is craft and guile…


and plenty of patience for sure. Even then a degree of quiet is vital for ensuring you don’t miss those special sounds – sleigh bells and the odd Ho Ho HO! for instance …


Oops! Nearly forgot to say ‘Santa won’t come to your house until you’re asleep.’ So, catching him? Well there’s always next time …
Tongue in cheek humour verbal and visual in sack loads herein.

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The Night Before Christmas
Clement C. Moore and Mark Marshall
Little Tiger Press
Mark Marshall’s visuals for the favourite Christmas Eve poem are full of seasonal charm with a modern edge to them. Santa though, truly is ‘a right jolly old elf’ …

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as he pays a special visit to Ruby and Sam’s home. They’ve left him the customary offering …

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and are snug in their beds, till young Sam is summarily awoken

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and watches St. Nicholas filling the stockings and he’s not the only one watching.

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