As I was going through quite a number of picture books about Christmas and poetry collections with a Yuletide theme – I couldn’t help but feel that most of them sounded cliche and predictable, trite and b-o-r-i-n-g.

This book, however, is extremely refreshing, and perfect for our Poetry-filled Yuletide Cheer theme: Cajun Night Before Christmas by “Trosclair” and illustrated by James Rice. I bought this while I was in New Orleans a month ago. I knew that it would be just the right thing for Christmas.

There are no little match girls dressed in rags, no flying reindeers, no choirs of angels, no church steeples, no candy canes. Instead we have a hut in the middle of a swamp, gumbo simmering in the fireplace, and eight alligators flying in the night:

I also love how the voice of the book is authentic – I dare you to read the lines aloud with that Cajun twist – the Creole element seeping through:

‘Twas the night before Christmas
An’ all t’ru de house
Dey don’t a t’ing pass
Not even a mouse.
De chirren been nezzle 
Good snug on de flo’
An’ Mama pass de pepper
T’ru de crack on de do’.

And what have we got here, eight alligators as Santa’s reindeers! No, they don’t have names like Rudolf, Dasher, Prancer or Vixen.

Santa landing on his bum – and nearly burning his suit at that! Wonder how the gumbo tastes like. Yum!

Our good ole Santa dressed in brown calls ’em as such:

“Ha, Gaston!
Ha, Tiboy!
Ha, Pierre an’ Alceé
Gee, Ninette!
Gee, Suzette!
Celeste an’ Reneé!”

I had so much fun reading this book aloud to my nine year old. It definitely presents a different twist to a well-loved tale. And as the world is blanketed by the consumerism that has taken the place of Christmas season, I struggled to search for something genuine, refreshingly different, and definitely not commonplace. I hope you enjoyed this Cajun retelling of a classic Christmas tale.

PictureBook Challenge Update: 132 (120)

PoC Challenge Update: 58 (25)

Cajun Night Before Christmas by “Trosclair,” Edited by Howard Jacobs, and Illustrated by James Rice. Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, 2007. Bought my own copy. Book photos were taken by me.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “Cajun Night Before Christmas by James Rice

  1. Sounds fabulous, Myra. What fun. My family arrived in the middle of the night & are upstairs sleeping now. I’ll have to share the little bits you gave with them. A lovely way to start our Christmas eve day!


    • Hi Linda! All my warmest wishes to you and your family this Christmas season. I feel deeply privileged that I get to “spend” time with you across the miles through GatheringBooks. God Bless You and your family. 🙂


  2. I confess to loving all (well, many) of the trite predictable Christmas picture books out there. You won’t catch me reading “little match girl” or “the gift of the magi” without dropping a tear or two! 🙂 But I also love something different and this book does sound refreshingly different. I can imagine it is great fun to read aloud. I hope I am able to get a copy to read next year.


    • Hi Laurie, We have actually done a 2-in-1 feature of Little Match Girl last year – Fats reviewed one book, and I reviewed another. We are also suckers for easy tears (sobs, more like it, hahaha). However, I wanted to feature something a little uncommon for the 24th – and the usual suspects, I felt wouldn’t cut it, no matter how much we love them. Thus, it’s Cajun Night Before Christmas! I didn’t realize that there were quite a number of really good new picture books about Christmas! We should explore that more next year. 🙂


  3. Pingback: List of Novels in Verse and Poetry Books for Children and Round-up for January 2012 «

  4. I like cajun music = Zydeco
    greetings by
    I Like Trio Music


  5. Being from Mississippi and Louisiana I can tell ya’ll dis fact, the the
    chirrin they gona love dis story if you can read it with a Cajun accent or at least a good southern accent. Merry Christmas ya’ll


  6. Being from Mississippi and Louisiana I can tell ya’ll dis fact, the
    chirrin they gona love dis story if you can read it with a Cajun accent or at least a good southern accent. Merry Christmas ya’ll


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