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The Night Before Christmas

by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by R J Watson

HarperCollins 2008 

ISBN10:0060757442
ISBN13:9780060757441

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This revved-up version of the classic poem follows St. Nick on his much anticipated journey around the Big Blue Marble and ends with an exclusive interview with the jolly-maker, himself. Watson's cast of elves, along with the ultimate aviator, flying his unique high-and-low-tech sleigh, make this New York Times bestseller a favorite holiday read.

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This book was set in Port Townsend, where Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and team flew over every rooftop. St. Nick did a fly-by of our 125 year-old courthouse, syncing his watch with the time on the clocktower. 

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Artist friends and family posed as elves, each wearing turned up shoes, inspired by Bulgarian hopanci dance shoes. 

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The Port Townsend Aero Museum loaned vintage goggles and flight cap for this project. Feeding my fantasies. 

I used my father as inspiration, since he was also an aviator and built experimental airplanes in the 1920s. Using bailing wire and Harley Davidson motorcycle engines and hand-carving the propellers, Dad would test-fly the contraptions himself. 

My father had thirteen crash landings. After his last crash my mother informed him it was either planes or her. 

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As you can see my first interview with Santa made me pretty nervous, but it inspired me to make my own rocket control panel on a black board. I loved drawing dials, gages and things that a pilot might need. 

St. Nick's cockpit is equipped with an espresso maker to aid in his epic globe trot, along with Mrs. Claus' honey-do shopping list. Read more about the technology in the Q & A at the end of the book. 

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My extraordinary editor, Maria Modugno.

Artist and family friend, Maitland Hardyman, modeled as St. Nick. His dog, Alfred, also made his modeling debut in this book. 

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Polaris was the model I made to boost the project into reality. It was crafted with papier mache and found-objects.