‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
When Father Mouse is awakened on Christmas Eve by a clatter outside his window, he catches a glimpse of the one and only Santa Claus! Father Mouse can hardly believe his eyes as he watches St. Nick come down the chimney with a pack full of toys. In this amusing twist on the classic poem by Clement C. Moore, Daniel Kirk reimagines the story from a fresh perspective—and readers of Kirk’s Library Mouse series may discover a familiar friend, too!
Daniel Kirk speaks about ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Not too long ago I found a drawing in a box in my mother’s basement, a picture I’d made when I was just a little boy. It’s a crayon drawing inspired by ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and in it there’s a big gray mouse dozing on a cot in front of a fireplace, waiting for Santa. It’s funny that this mouse’s view of the classic rhyme stayed in my mind for so long!
Working on this picture book was a lot of fun. Since I knew I’d be retelling the story from the point of view of a mouse, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reveal a little something about the childhood of Sam, the Library Mouse, who is the star of five of my picture books. In this new book, Sam is one of four young siblings who lie in their bed dreaming of yummy treats on Christmas Eve. And the gifts Santa leaves in his stocking all relate to Sam as a young writer. The main mouse character, obviously, is Sam’s dad.
I did plenty of research before working on my sketches for this book. There are a LOT of picture book versions of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, and I carefully studied at least twenty of them, paying attention to the ways each illustrator found to make the story his or her own. For my version, I tried to imagine a new way of looking at Santa, dressed in woodsman gear instead of the traditional fuzzy red suit. The house Santa visits is meant to look like a country home, decorated in country style. And, of course, I tell the story from the point of view of a mouse dad, instead of a human one. I hope these touches make my treatment of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas unique.
Things to think about and do after you have read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Most stories have at least two or more characters. And each story would be different, if told by a different character. For instance, what if ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas were told from the point of view of one of the reindeer? Or of Santa?
In my version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Santa is not dressed in quite the traditional way. Make some drawings of Santa in different outfits—try putting him in summer clothes, or a suit and tie, or anything your imagination can come up with! At what point does your character not look like Santa any more?
From my experience, as long as Santa is dressed mostly in red and has a long white beard, you can change his hat, or his jacket and pants, and he will still look like Santa.
Sam the Library Mouse appears in this story as a little fellow that still lives at home with his family. In my Library Mouse books, Sam is a little more grown up, and he lives in a library with his friend Sarah. Why do you think Sam lives in the library, and where is his family? Do you think they live nearby?
Go to your library and look at some different versions of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Pictures tell a story, just like words do. And it is fascinating to see how different illustrators choose to bring this tale to life…It lets you know there are many, many ways to tell a story!