As if it were Christmas morning, a fantastic present for me arrived in the mail.
I don’t know how much I should be giving away here—the book isn’t to be released until October—but I’m so excited I can’t wait to share this. Last winter I worked on a very fun title for Marshall Cavendish: The Year Without a Santa Claus. I showed you my character designs for Santa here.
You may already know The Year Without a Santa Claus as a Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special. The original story was written by Phyllis McGinley in the 1950s. In my opinion the original is way better than the special it inspired (I’m not sorry that the Heat and Cold Misers are not in her story). Phyllis McGinley writes this poem with a master writer’s attention to meter and makes some fun, unexpected rhymes. It’s a little on the long side for a 32-pager, so we expanded the book to 40 pages. She provides plenty of imagery for an illustrator to revel in.
The story was first published in 1956. I got my hands on a used copy. The drawings that accompany the text are really more decoration than illustration. They have a loose, watercolory look. My favorite image from that edition is the one on the cover of Santa relaxing in an easy chair, smoking a hookah!
Anyway, back to this fantastic present. It turns out that Boris Karloff narrated The Year Without A Santa Claus in the 1960s around the same time he narrated How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Marshall Cavendish has decided to re-release the recording along with the book. Editor Marilyn Brigham very kindly sent me an advance copy of the cd. It is glorious! Boris Karloff never sounded better. Listening to it makes me wonder what an animated special in the hands of Chuck Jones might have been like. But, if that had happened, I wouldn’t have had the marvelous opportunity of illustrating this lovely story.
It looks like you can get the cd now (here), even before the book is available. Definitely get both. Absolutely.