Behind the Scenes
The Making of the Book Series
Many people have said that there is magic in these many translations of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. It’s safe to say that we could write a whole book just about the making of this 20-book multilingual series.
Do you remember that scene in Miracle on 34th Street where young Natalie Wood’s character is in line behind a foreign girl, waiting to see Santa Claus? When he instantly begins to speak in Dutch to the girl, who had newly arrived from Holland, Natalie was enchanted. Her cynical mother, however, protested.
“But Mom…,” Natalie cried.
We want to bring this magical gift of worldwide fluidity and unity to each child. Children know this truth instinctively. Our team of 83 translators, narrators, illustrators, graphic designers, computer programmers, and audio engineers came together, like Santa’s elves, from over 20 different countries, to bring these bilingual books and multilingual app to you.
How in the world did this happen? After having begun with a single translation into Italian, for her daughter, the project soon took on a life of its own. Perhaps like Moore’s original poem, that he had written for his children, as well. A pure heart’s love has untold power.
Sally frequently says: “It feels like I’d given birth, long ago, then have been spending the last few years following the ‘toddler’ around, making sure its needs are met… and trying to keep up!”
Perhaps one of the sweetest aspects of this book is how it was illustrated. Two Sicilian teens, Kristo Neziraj and Giuseppe Stornello, aged 17 & 18, did the pencil sketches. They knew nothing about this poem, but the poem’s magic filled them, nonetheless. They said to Sally, “Signora, if you hadn’t recognized our talent & put it to use, we’d have been miserable.” Sally’s cousin, professional artist Marco Nifosì, completed the artwork. Her daughter did the coloring.
Enhanced eBook Development
During the COVID shutdown, when there was just one Italian translation, Sally approached an ebook specialist, who suggested that she make an “enhanced” ebook with audio narration. What a great idea! Who knew that that was even possible? And that the book text could highlight in time with the narrator, just like the old “bouncing ball”?
When the ebook company then suggested doing a Spanish translation, Sally thought that it would naturally flow from the Italian one. But it didn’t. Native Spanish speakers from Colombia, England, Mexico and the USA struggled to find the right rhyme and rhythm.
It was interesting to learn that, in Spanish, poem lines could rhyme even if the words were in the middle of the lines, not just at the end (but we made sure that they rhymed at the end to stay true to the original!). Sally would later learn that the sing-song nature of the Indian languages had its own rhythm that they would need to harmonize with Moore’s. The Italian dialects, considered oral languages, would have to be written down, another challenge and surprise.
Expat Liveaboard Community
The community of expats who spend their winters in the warmth of Sally’s ancestral town of Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, living on their sailboats, became instant translation partners. With Lucile Covello at the helm, recruiting volunteers, translations were made into Dutch, French, Polish, German, and Russian. Rewrites and finishing touches were added to Portuguese and Spanish. When Lucile suggested translating into Sicilian, Sally rolled her eyes, knowing how difficult that would be, but knew in her heart that Italian dialects needed to be included, too, if for no other reason than to keep them alive. Neapolitan, Milanese, and, of course, Salentino, from the Puglia region where Saint Nicholas’ remains are found, were all included.
Expat Liveaboard Community
The community of expats who spend their winters in the warmth of Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, living on their sailboats, became instant translation partners. With Lucile Covello at the helm, recruiting volunteers, translations were made into Dutch, French, Polish, German, and Russian. Rewrites and finishing touches were added to Portuguese and Spanish. When Lucile suggested translating into Sicilian, Sally rolled her eyes, but knew in her heart that Italian dialects needed to be included, too, if for no other reason than to keep them alive. Neapolitan, Milanese, and, of course, Salentino, from the Puglia region where Saint Nicholas’ remains are found, were all included.
Around the World
As momentum built, more people joined the team. One artist & philanthropist who grew up in Canada, was amazed that the poem was 200 years old and that many countries had never heard of it before! We spent much care to do both Ukrainian and Russian translations when the war broke out, and to do both Hebrew and Arabic, as well. We spent countless hours explaining the nuances of each stanza to translators in Chinese, Hindi, Malayalam (from Kerala, India), and Sinhala (Sri Lanka). The European languages were somewhat easier, but many contributors were introduced to America’s favorite poem for the very first time.
Thank you to our team!
Sally Marie Veillette, Lucile Covello, Natasja Sluiter, Artiola Koxherri
Kristo Neziraj, Giuseppe Stornello, Marco Nifosì, Raffaele Santaera
Chiara Lucia Perni
Andrea Ferraro, Viola Imovilli, Rangana Kulatunga, Tyler Whitaker
Dodo Albania: Arsen Ndreu, Flavio Ymeri, Renato Todhe, Genti Xhixha
Sheri, Brian and Connor Hargus
Loutof Nweisser – Actor – Santa of Nazareth – Alhaneen Theatre Palestina, Narrator; Saida Mlayeh, Translator; Ferial Haroun, Translator
Yuqi Sun, Narrator/Translator
Peter Beckers, Narrator/Translator; Natasja Sluiter, Translator; Marcel Flore, Translator
Sally M. Veillette, Narrator
Lucile Covello, Narrator/Translator; Nino Porcher Covello, Translator
Birgit Gehm-Forster, Narrator/Translator; Carina Pfleghar, Translator; Anne Klinger, Translator
Debra Silver, Narrator/Translator
Chiara Lucia Perni, Narrator; Federico Perni, Translator; Marco Nifosì, Translator; Marisa Ostacoli, Translator; Veronica Materazzo, Translator
Priya G, Narrator; Ferold Sunny, Translator
Susanna Papis, Narrator/Translator; Clotilde Corradi, Translator; Cinzia Ferrari, Translator
Alfredo Tucci, Narrator/Translator; Massimo Carnevale, Translator; Giovanni Abete, Translator
Natalia Mlonek, Narrator/Translator; Bożena Data, Translator
Giovanna Heloisa, Narrator/Translator; Omar Lobão, Translator; Simão Rocha, Translator; Soraia Cardoso Malda do Vale, Translator; Lucile Covello, Translator
Konstantin Lennykh, Narrator; Fara Shmeman, Translator; Ludmila Matrosova, Translator; Lana Ignatova, Translator; Elena Voronina, Translator; Milana Volkova, Translator; Veronica Goncharenko, Translator
Rita Paiano, Narrator/Translator; Antonio Pisino, Translator; Antonello Tenore, Translator; Miranda Bibbò, Translator
Massimo Leggio, Narrator/Translator; Giovanna Altamura, Translator; Vincenzo Nifosì, Translator; Marco Failla, Translator; Salvatore Failla, Translator
Reshani Hennadige, Narrator/Translator; Rangana Kulatunga, Translator; Fara Shmeman, Translator; Ruthika Sewwandi, Translator; Ann Christaleen-Perumal, Translator
Lourdes Estrada, Narrator; Jessie Todd, Translator; Christian Rivera, Translator; Juanita Veasey, Translator; Alma Schlor, Translator; Mariel Chiaraviglio, Translator; Giovanni Campiglia, Translator; Lucile Covello, Translator; Soraia Cardoso Malda do Vale, Translator
Ihor Tretiakov, Narrator; Iryna Brynyak, Translator; Olena Voronina, Translator; Iryna Tretyakova, Translator