The Toys’ Night Before Christmas

It’s a bit late for a Christmas book, but while we were at Grandma’s over the holidays, Alex insisted that The Toys’ Night Before Christmas needed to be on our blog. After reading it, I had to agree. It’s a lovely story about giving to others.

The Toys' Night Before Christmas

The Toys’ Night Before Christmas is an embossed book beautifully illustrated by Susanna Ronchi. It was written by Dugald Steer and designed by Janie Louise Hunt (this information was hidden on the last page with the copyright information, though—only illustrator Susanna Ronchi is credited on the cover).

I opened the book expecting some version of the traditional ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas story—either a toy version of the traditional story or a story that followed the rhyming structure. I found neither.

Instead, I found a very sweet story about Rosie’s toys on the night before Christmas. That night, once Rosie and all of the other people in the house fell asleep, the toys tiptoed downstairs and gathered in the living room.

Jack from Rosie’s Jack-in-the Box declared that it was not fair that Santa brought presents to everyone except the toys. The toys (led by Teddy) responded that they didn’t need presents because they were toys. Jack could not change their minds.

I thought Jack was going to create trouble at this point (the classic story about a character causing problems, then Santa coming and through some challenge the character learns the error of his ways). Again, I was wrong.

It turns out that Jack “had a special plan.” He decided to make a Santa costume for himself, a Santa sack, and to find presents to give to each of the toys. The rest of the book describes the many lengths to which Jack goes to make Christmas wonderful for all of his friends.

Of course, Santa appears at the end to do what he does best, and he doesn’t disappoint!

The illustrations in the book are gorgeous, with lots of bright colors. You will see new little details each time you look at the pictures.

The embossing brings out some of the details of the illustrations. It also makes it exciting to touch. This is great for increasing the attention span of children who are just entering the wonderful world of reading, or those who have more interest in tactile sensations than in listening to stories. I remember when my kids were very young, I kept their attention on books by moving their hands along the pages of books like this that had a fascinating feel. The embossing is great in this book because of its variety in feel—there are dots, stars, stripes, wavy lines, and many other shapes, both big and small.

I’m glad Alex pushed me to read this book so we could include it here.

Susanna Ronchi has illustrated a number of children’s books. Her website is

If Dugald Steer’s name sounds familiar, it may be because of his work on the New York Times acclaimed “Ologies Collection” (Dragonology, Egyptology, Wizardology, Pirateology, and so on). He can be found online at A good place to look for a list of books Mr. Steer has written is

Have you read any great books lately?

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