The Nights Before Christmas ill. by Tony Ross

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Koala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742761404
As December begins what better way to herald the coming of Christmas than to share, each night, or day, a classic story of the season as each door of the Advent calendar is opened.
The Nights Before Christmas collection features a variety of traditional stories, poems and songs as well as extracts from newspapers and letters with a forward by illustrator Tony Ross. His intention in assembling this collection is to remember the preparation for, and anticipation of, Christmas Day through sharing stories from the past, illustrated in his easily recognised style.
Beginning with Clement Moore's classic A Visit from St Nicolas, the collection features a German folk story and Hans Christian Anderson's Fir Tree celebrating the Christmas tree tradition, though Professor Branestawm's Christmas Tree features a far from traditional tree.
The King James Bible version of The Nativity reminds us of the origin of the Christmas Story. Tolstoy's Papa Panov's Special Christmas , Good King Wencelas and an extract from Little Women, celebrate giving to the poor whilst an extract from Dickens' Christmas Carol features Scrooge at his cold hearted best. The extract from The New York Times, reporting the Christmas truce between soldiers fighting in the trenches in Northern France during World War One, reflects the Christmas message of peace and goodwill.
The cold and frozen northern winter features in stories from The Snow Queen and The Little Match Girl as is the wintery garden created by the selfishness of The Selfish Giant.
Of course no Christmas collection can ignore the presence of Santa who is celebrated by the quirky Letter to Suzy penned by her father, Samuel Clements, Baum's A Kidnapped Santa Claus and the iconic Yes Virginia, There is a Santa.
Whilst the compendium has a definite European traditional focus, adult readers are sure to be reminded of Christmases past as they share with the younger generation.
Sue Keane