Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas

( 2 )

Overview

Praise for James Rice's Night Before Christmas series illustrations:

"Forget Dance, Prancer, Comet, and Vixen. . . . Good Clement, wherever he is, will not be gnashing his teeth."
--New York Times Book Review

"Rice is especially good with facial expressions, whether they are on a Texas jackrabbit, a longhorn steer, a dusty cowboy, or the green and long-nosed alligator named Gaston."
--Library Journal

This charming parody of the Christmas classic by Clement C. Moore blends Santa ...

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Overview

Praise for James Rice's Night Before Christmas series illustrations:

"Forget Dance, Prancer, Comet, and Vixen. . . . Good Clement, wherever he is, will not be gnashing his teeth."
--New York Times Book Review

"Rice is especially good with facial expressions, whether they are on a Texas jackrabbit, a longhorn steer, a dusty cowboy, or the green and long-nosed alligator named Gaston."
--Library Journal

This charming parody of the Christmas classic by Clement C. Moore blends Santa Claus with the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch figure of the Belsnickel, a thin, cantankerous old man who visits children before Christmas and rewards, or punishes, them based on their behavior.
This particular old Belsnickel rides in on a plow pulled by cows and steers. The fun begins when Belsnickel's plow and livestock are too much for the farmer's roof and he plunges through the ceiling and into the farmer's bed!
After grilling the kiddies to see if they've been bad or "sveet", he gives them their presents and lumbers back through the roof to his plow, promising to send over Stolzfus, the local carpenter.
The distinctive Pennsylvania Dutch dialect and the hilarious antics of crotchety old Belsnickel will make this a Christmas tale your family will enjoy reading aloud again and again.
Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas is also available on an entertaining audiocassette read by the author.
Chet Williamson is an award-winning novelist and short-story writer who has written for The New Yorker, Esquire, and many other magazines and anthologies. Chet makes his home in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Laurie, and their son, Colin.
Widely acclaimed as the South's leading illustrator of juvenile books, James Rice is the illustrator and/or author of over sixty titles with over 1.6 million copies in print. Rice was born on a farm in Coleman County, Texas, in 1934. He graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Texas, a master of fine arts degree from Stephen F. Austin University, and a master of arts degree in education from Howard Payne College. He taught art and music at both the high-school and college levels and was a favorite speaker at schools, nursing homes, and community centers across the country. Mr. Rice moved to Hico, Texas, in 1980, where he died in 2004.

An adaptation of the famous poem about a Christmas Eve visitor, set in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Includes a pie recipe and information about Belsnickel and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Yet another version of the Clement Moore poem recast in dialect. Santa is replaced by the "Belsnickel," and reindeer become cattle. The Belsnickel is dressed in a long black coat with the familiar white beard and flat black hat of the Pennsylvania Dutch. A guide to pronunciation and a recipe for shoofly pie are provided at the end. 2000, Pelican Publishing Company, Ages 6 up, $14.95. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen
From The Critics
As explained in the author's note, in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a crotchety old gentleman known as the Belsnickel plays the role of Santa Claus. Although the Belsnickel is skinny and dressed in black, he still sits in judgment over children's behavior giving them treats if they're good and threatening to spank them with his switches if not, "( though there is no recorded occurrence of this ever happening)." Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas is used as the basis for this tale and comparisons are many. The Belsnickel arrives in a plow pulled by cows. Although readers are told the Belsnickel usually enters a home through the front door, in this parody the cows are made to climb up on the farmhouse roof. Once up high, the roof collapses and the Belsnickel falls to the bed below. Of course everyone is now awake to greet him and after a show of grumpiness he hands out gifts to the three waiting children. What makes this story fun is the German accent (Pennsylvania Dutch dialect) that's built into the text. For instance, instead of was, it says, "vas" and instead of just, "chust." The story's humor is largely due to being thus forced to speak and listen differently. As in the original poem the verse here is rhyming. Rather than striving for grace and flow this poem has a clunky, irreverent, old world style. "And vhen ve looked up through the hole in the ceiling, It vas chust a little bit vorried ve're feeling." The illustrations are created with a scratchy pen and ink line with drab watercolor backgrounds. The Belsnickel comes across as a friendly guy, despite his reputation, while the droopy-eyed cows are sure to produce some giggles. Unfortunately, the monochromatic pajama cladfamily, with their frozen poses and mouths agape, are less animated than the cows while the cat is chust unnaturally large. This book would best be appreciated as a supplement to Moore's original poem or alongside one of Jim Rice's many other take-offs of The Night Before Christmas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565547216
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Night Before Christmas Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 499,874
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

James Rice (1934-2004), in his long, distinguished career as an author and illustrator, produced more than sixty children's books, among them several additions to The Night Before Christmas Series. Cajun Night Before Christmas , Rice's first book, has been nationally recognized as a classic in its genre. Rice taught art and music at both high school and college levels and loved teaching children the joys of writing and illustrating. With more than 2.5 million copies of his books in print, Rice ranks among the nation's best-selling creators of children's books, having received awards from Printer Industries of America and the Children's Book Council.

Chet Williamson is an award-winning writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Over eighty of his short stories have appeared in such publications as The New Yorker , Esquire , Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction , and many other magazines and anthologies. He has been a final nominee for the World Fantasy Award, the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, and the Horror Writers Stoker Award. Williamson, who is also a trained actor, lives in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. This is his first children's book.

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Read an Excerpt

As explained in the author's note, in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a crotchety old gentleman known as the Belsnickel plays the role of Santa Claus. Although the Belsnickel is skinny and dressed in black, he still sits in judgment over children's behavior giving them treats if they're good and threatening to spank them with his switches if not, "( though there is no recorded occurrence of this ever happening)."

Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas is used as the basis for this tale and comparisons are many. The Belsnickel arrives in a plow pulled by cows. Although readers are told the Belsnickel usually enters a home through the front door, in this parody the cows are made to climb up on the farmhouse roof. Once up high, the roof collapses and the Belsnickel falls to the bed below. Of course everyone is now awake to greet him and after a show of grumpiness he hands out gifts to the three waiting children.

What makes this story fun is the German accent (Pennsylvania Dutch dialect) that's built into the text. For instance, instead of was, it says, "vas" and instead of just, "chust." The story's humor is largely due to being thus forced to speak and listen differently. As in the original poem the verse here is rhyming. Rather than striving for grace and flow this poem has a clunky, irreverent, old world style. "And vhen ve looked up through the hole in the ceiling, It vas chust a little bit vorried ve're feeling."

The illustrations are created with a scratchy pen and ink line with drab watercolor backgrounds. The Belsnickel comes across as a friendly guy, despite his reputation, while the droopy-eyed cows are sure to produce some giggles. Unfortunately, the monochromatic pajama clad family, with their frozen poses and mouths agape, are less animated than the cows while the cat is chust unnaturally large. This book would best be appreciated as a supplement to Moore's original poem or alongside one of Jim Rice's many other take-offs of The Night Before Christmas.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2005

    vonderful gut fun

    As residents of Lancaster County this version of the traditional poem has brought us much laughter and enjoyment. Reading it has become a traditional part of my sister's annual cookie exchange. My nieces request it every year and love listening to my mother read it because she knows all the rhythms and pronounciations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2000

    'Christmas Pennsylvania Dutch Style'

    This is an excellent book for anyone even vaguely familiar with the Amish. Coming from Lancaster County, PA our family enjoyed this book immensely. We received a copy as a gift and immediately went out and bought 4 more copies to give as gifts. It will be at the top of our gift-giving list next Christmas. You will especially enjoy the PA Dutch Belsnickel and the '4 steers, 4 cows and a plow' replacing the traditional reindeer and sleigh.

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