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Night before christmas with a twist

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It's almost time to get out the familiar Christmas story of "The Night Before Christmas" for the yearly reading. Why not treat your family to Jan Brett's version of this familiar story this year? Brett adds her own twist with elves who hide in St. Nick's sleigh for the toy delivery, and cause havoc for Santa on the special night.

A cute teddy bear tells the story in this beautifully illustrated book. Dogs, cats, and even chickens watch with Papa as St. Nick comes down the chimney. St. Nick is even wearing cowboy boots!

The large watercolor illustrations that fill two pages with lots of fun details are of special interest. Brett alternates color with black and white illustrations on the pages. Border insets in the illustrations are added details. Brett adds an introduction with the history of St. Nick and how Clement Moore came to write the original poem of "The Night Before Christmas".

Jan Brett's "The Night Before Christmas" is a great choice this year for the traditional reading. It is recommended for ages 3-7, but older children will enjoy this version with all of the added details in the illustrations. Children can have an interactive reading experience by having a treasure hunt with the details in the illustrations. This book was published by Penguin Group, and has an ISBN of 9780399256707.

Add this book to your Christmas collection for a special treat this year. You might want to prepare some sugar plums for Santa to replace the traditional cookies.

Recipe for Sugar Plums

*1/2 cup dried apricots

*1/4 cup dried figs or dates

*1/4 cup golden raisins

*1/4 cup flaked coconut

*3 tablespoons orange juice

*1/4 teaspoon almond extract

*1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions: In a food processor, finally chop apricots, figs or dates, raisins, and coconut. Add orange juice and almond flavoring. Stir until well blended. Roll into 36 balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Roll each ball in granulated sugar. Layer in an airtight container, placing wax paper between each layer. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat, well chilled.

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