Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Night Before Christmas

Hundreds of illustrators have undertaken the task of illustrating Clement Clark Moore's classic Christmas poem, "The Night Before Christmas."  I chose this version simply because I had the opportunity to meet the illustrator, Jan Brett, and have her autograph the book for me.  I chose to post about this poem because one of my earliest Christmas memories is of memorizing this poem as a 4 year-old.  On Christmas Eve, we had a large extended family gathering at my great Aunt Ruth's house.  When everyone was gathered in the living room, my parents asked me to recite the poem.  I started and then realized that every single adult in the room was watching me and I immediately shut down.  My parents were completely surprised by my uncharacteristic shyness and actually, so am I :)

Now I have my class memorize the poem each year and encourage them to recite it for their families on Christmas Eve.

Jan Brett has long been a favorite artist of mine.  Her detailed drawings can keep a reader involved for hours, and the beautiful borders on most pages have become a hallmark of her work.  Brett's intricate drawings are bright and bold and often foreshadow what is to come.

Last year, I was able to attend a book signing event for Brett's newest book, Mossy.  She was absolutely delightful!  She spoke about the research she did and called the children in the audience to the front and gave them a lesson about drawing turtles.  Face in a Book, the closest bookstore to my hometown, did a wonderful job of preparing the event.  They had turtles and tortoises for the children to observe and explore beforehand and a giant tortoise, Sweet Pea, roaming the room after the presentation while we waited for our turn to get our books signed.  The poor thing had kids chasing her and trying to ride her, but she seemed unaffected by the attention and just kept lapping the room.

The author's team was well-prepared for those of us who bought more than one book.  She would sign two books per person with a personal message, but customers could take a beautiful pre-signed book plate for each book we purchased.  Even her tour bus was Mossy-themed.

Jan Brett was gracious and personable and was especially terrific with the children.  If you ever have an opportunity to go to an event at which she is speaking, GO!



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