Sunday, January 3, 2010

'Twas Eight Days After Christmas . . .

I had wanted to get this entry written and posted before Christmas, but being the good teacher I am, I waited until vacation to get really sick. I'm recovered and ready to return to class tomorrow, and thought I'd sneak this in before the children and I get back down to blogging business later this month.
The EK kids participated in the Hogarth School's 8th annual Vote for The Night Before Christmas. I read three different versions of Clement C. Moore's poem The Night Before Christmas illustrated by three different artists -- Corinne Malvern, Cheryl Harness and Jan Brett.
Malvern was the winner with 7 votes, Harness came in second with 5 votes, and Brett came in last with 2 votes. Corinne Malvern tied to win one year, and flat-out won the other 7 "elections."
Now, don't start crying, Election fraud! I do my best to assure a fair result every year. I try to remain impartial and not give any hints as to which is my favorite. The children vote privately, and do not receive a ballot to mark until they physically pick up the book for which they wish to vote. That way, they don't simply mark off the first box on the ballot.

I love this curriculum unit, and am intrigued that Malvern wins year after year. Although her version was originally published smack in the middle (almost) of the 20th century in 1949, those very traditional renderings of Santa and his reindeer still hold enormous appeal for a 21st century audience.
Last year, I found it interesting that my 11 and 13-year old nieces were appalled that Jan Brett was not the clear winner. In fact, Brett's illustrations have come in last 7 out of 8 elections.
My nieces are fantastic artists, and Margaret (the 11-year old) is an aspiring illustrator. We talked about what Brett's problem might be (at least with the preschool set) and determined that you could never put a red nose on a Brett reindeer. We think it's as simple as that. Kids just can't fit a realistic-looking reindeer into their existing reindeer schemata. I think Brett has the same problem with her Santa. That guy would never live at the North Pole. Which is kind of what New England is feeling like these days.