From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–On December 24, 1822, Papa Clement Moore is charged with a special task by his six-year-old daughter–to write a Christmas surprise for the family. As he ventures out into the snow for a long sleigh ride to the market, the man ponders the story he will tell and how he will write it to bring the joy and wonder of [his] childhood Christmases to his children. The slow measured text leads up to Moore's classic poem and gently conveys the author's imagined process while imparting some history of the holiday. Bettoli's folk-art-style illustrations evoke the period with warmth and charm, and the bright colors and stiff poses are nicely placed with lots of white space and tiny borders to give a vintage feel to the narrative. The gentle story is strangely compelling and involving, especially since readers know just what the special surprise will be. The full text of the poem is included. While not essential, this charming work will appeal to teachers and others looking to extend holiday lessons in a creative way.–Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library
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As fresh as new snow, this provenance for the inspiration and writing of the classic poem explains how the holiday rhyme originated. Moore promised his daughter Charity he would write a special surprise for his six children for Christmas, but on December 24, when Moore’s wife sent him to buy another turkey for dinner, he still didn’t have any words in his head. Ring-ting-tinglings from his sleigh trip to the outdoor market sparked the ideas for the poem’s details. Colorful, homey illustrations appear influenced by Tomie dePaola’s style and offer a nostalgic viewpoint of the early days of Manhattan. The full poem is included and set off with green borders. Though the blurb claims the account is based on research, there are unfortunately no sources, author’s note, or even CIP data to authenticate the story’s history. Still, it’s an enjoyable, behind-the-curtain look at the classic rhyme. Grades K-3. --Julie Cummins