It's certainly an appropriate day to share the covers of some copies of "The Night Before Christmas" that Sarah and I have around the house. The paperback version of the tale that's pictured above was published in 1964 by James & Jonathan1 and features illustrations by Nino Carbé2. (His name is incorrectly printed as "Niño Carbe" on the cover.)
Of course, it is stated on the cover that the famous nineteenth-century poem -- which largely defines our modern conception of Santa, his sleigh, his reindeer and more -- was written by Clement Moore. But this is a subject of some dispute.
The two camps on the authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" are divided between Clement Clarke Moore and Henry Livingston Jr. The debate is an interesting tale that includes sleigh rides, Dutch folklore, Washington Irving, textual content analysis and the possible importance of Santa's pipe. If you want to delve into more, check out "Whose Jolly Old Elf Is That, Anyway? Literary Sleuth Casts Doubt on the Authorship of an Iconic Christmas Poem," written by David D. Kirkpatrick and published by The New York Times on October 26, 2000.
Scholarly debates aside, here are some of our family's additional "The Night Before Christmas" covers to enjoy on Christmas Eve.
1. James & Jonathan Inc. was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Notable Hollywood folks from Kenosha include Don Ameche, Bert I. Gordon, Al Molinaro, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel J. Travanti, Orson Welles and Billy Zane.
2. Nino Carbé had an interesting career, as detailed on this excellent website bearing his name. In the early 1930s, he illustrated editions of "Tales of the Arabian Nights," "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Frankenstein." He had a long career with Walt Disney Studios, where he worked on such films as "Fantasia," "Bambi," "Pinocchio," "Dumbo" and "Victory Through Air Power" (a fascinating slice of World War II history). He also did some animation for Chilly Willy for Walter Lantz Productions and he worked on Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version of "The Lord of the Rings." (Speaking of which, have you seen the groovy new trailer for December 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"?)