Jan Brett, Boston Symphony Orchestra Team Up on Holiday Classic

By | Boston Daily |

Yes, there’s snow today and this weekend and a chill in the air, which makes all those sales on holiday decorations and premature TV commercials somehow seem more fitting than mercenary. So in the spirit of things, I’m pretty intrigued by a cool book and event coming next week that both rings in the holidays while merging two of our local cultural titans. In short, children’s author Jan Brett is teaming up with the Boston Pops to bring you a revamped, deluxe version of The Night Before Christmas.

If you’re somehow unaware of Jan Brett herself, then you probably know her books, such as her lavishly illustrated takes on classic stories like The Owl and the Pussycat and Goldilocks, as well as originals like The Hat or retold tales like The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse or the Ukrainian folktale The Mitten. In the end, she’s sold more than 37 million books, and the Boston Public Library gave her a lifetime achievement award in 2005.

Back in 1998, Brett produced possibly the best take on Clement Moore’s poem The Night Before Christmas, a volume that made the poem look like old painted wood panels, with frames inside frames. There was so much to look at, and the art was impeccable, but it also captured the cozy, homey flavor of the holidays that often gets lost in glitzier treatments. Reading it, you could almost feel the yule log blazing nearby.

This year, she’s re-releasing the book, which comes out Tuesday. This version comes with a companion DVD of the Boston Pops’ famous take on the poem they do every year, narrated by Jim Dale, the British actor best known for narrating the Harry Potter audiobooks. This is old-fashioned multimedia, folks, and it’s more than welcome. Shut down the iPad2 and pick up an actual book, then slip in the DVD, and kick back with the kiddies. You’ll also be happy to know that the money Brett makes from this edition goes right to supporting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

This connection between her text and the Pops’ music is a natural match, made even more natural by the fact that Brett long ago found her own personal match with BSO double-bassist Joe Hearne, who celebrates his 50th anniversary with the orchestra this year. Not a bad way to celebrate, and you can celebrate with Brett herself when she signs books and does a drawing demonstration at the Natick Mall next Friday, November 4th at 4 p.m., where she’ll also be joined by some of the musicians. Admittedly it’s also a promo for Neiman Marcus’s holiday windows, but hey, that’ll just add to the glow.

Now if she’ll just do a book based on the Pops’ version of Let It Snow… On second thought, scratch that.