You’ll Go Down in History

Today I’m sharing another classic from my Christmas book basket.  Did you know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was written by Robert L. May in 1939 as a Christmas booklet for Montgomery Ward?  It was actually just a fun commercial attempt by the department store.  As a special treat for their shoppers,  Montgomery Ward had been giving out coloring books at Christmas for years.  This story was actually supposed to cut costs.  Who knew Rudolph would grow to become a Christmas icon?

So what’s the deal with this red-nosed misfit?  Let’s look at the story from a writer’s perspective.

  • Rhythm–the story is a poem, written in the meter of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  If it worked for Clement C. Moore, why not?  The rhythm and rhyme create the perfect read aloud.  By singing from the page, the reader is able to recite the story after just a couple of readings–making it impossible to forget the adorable little reindeer with his cute little nose.
  • Misfit–The reader begins rooting for Rudolph from the start.  Why?  Because we all can relate.  We all have childhood memories of those moments where we felt like Rudolph, where we didn’t feel included.  Worse, we’ve all experienced bullies and teasing.  Here, the reader immediately makes a connection and cares for the main character.
  • Hero–Oh, it gets better.  Not only is he finally included in the reindeer games, he’s now the hero who saves CHRISTMAS–Santa’s HERO–now what kid doesn’t dream of helping Santa?

Now I have to admit that a song (May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks adapted it into the famous song) and movie based on the story has certainly given this story a nudge to the classic status, but it all began with an adorable, MEMORABLE tale. –as they say, the rest is hi–stor–y.


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