A Non-Smoking Twas the Night Before Christmas Changes Things Up

Posted on December 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart in Winter Children's Books, Learning Games and Printables

Non smoking Twas the Night Before Christmas reviewed by Storytime StandoutsTwas the Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Elena Almazova and Vitaly Shvarov
Traditional Christmas poem (edited) [self] published by Grafton and Scratch Publishers

Wow – Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century may just be one of the most controversial picture books we’ve written about! Readers appear sharply divided on whether the famous poem by Clement C. Moore ought to be edited to remove references to smoking and a pipe.

In this recent adaptation of the classic poem, Pamela McColl has removed these stanzas from the poem we know so well.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

Is this censorship or is it a case of adapting a poem for 21st century sensibilities?

I am ‘mom’ to two boys and I share Ms. McColl’s aversion to smoking. Unlike her, I’ve never smoked a cigarette. In fact, despite reading Twas the Night Before Christmas dozens (if not hundreds) of times, I have never been tempted to try smoking tobacco or anything else. Smoking has never appealed to me and the fact that Clement Moore’s Santa Claus smokes a pipe has not influenced my opinion favorably or unfavorably about the habit.

For those who feel that Mr. Moore’s classic poem could sway an impressionable child, Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century may provide a solution. We suspect most children will not miss the lines from the poem, nor will they miss the pipe or the smoke – instead they will dream of sugar plums and a bounty of gifts delivered by an elf.

Disney-like illustrations will appeal to some children however others may ask why dozens of candles and a roaring fireplace are left burning while the family sleeps and a table lamp sits nearby. Those who look carefully will notice that some of the Christmas stockings change color.

This is a picture book that will appeal to some book buyers – simply because of the stance taken on smoking. Unfortunately, the illustrations are disappointing and lack artistry.

Visit the book’s website

Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century at Amazon.com

Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century at Amazon.ca

Gold Medal Winner 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Best Holiday Book (the best children’s books published each year for the North American market)

Benjamin Franklin Award – Independent Book Publishers Association

Santa quits smoking in edited version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ – transcript of The Current radio interview with Pamela McColl

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