Join us in celebrating the book birthday for La Noche Before Three Kings Day. We sat down with Musa Sheila Colón-Bagley to learn all about the inspiration behind this book.
But first, a little bit about this book:
Inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s "The Night Before Christmas," La Noche Before Three Kings Day is a perfect holiday tale.
It’s almost Three Kings Day, and while the grownups prepare a large meal, the kids prepare their shoe boxes for los Reyes to arrive later that night. Will they stay up late enough to wish the Kings a Feliz Día de los Reyes? Or will the magic pass them by?
Sing along with a great big familia as they fill up their platos, play their favorite juegos, and wait for the three kings and regalitos to arrive.
This enchanting celebration of a beloved holiday is brought to life through lively rhyming dual-lingual text by Sheila Colón-Bagley with festive illustrations from Alejandro Mesa.
Where did you get the idea to write this particular story?
I grew up hearing stories of how joyous El Día de los Reyes Magos was back “home” in Puerto Rico. While I didn’t celebrate the holiday as a child, I was delighted when my eldest daughter, then six, asked to celebrate it after watching an episode of Dora the Explorer about it. That was fourteen years ago, and with three daughters now in our family, it is still one of our favorite holidays.
We gather around the kitchen table to decorate shoe boxes on the evening of January 5, followed by a celebratory dinner of our favorite Latinx food. Just before bedtime, we leave out bowls of carrots and water for the camels. Instead of placing their shoeboxes under their bed, though, my daughters place them by the back door, so they won’t be awakened by the Three Kings at work.
The next morning, they rush to their boxes to see what gifts they’ve received from the Three Kings, before heading off to school. But, unfortunately, none of their friends at school know what a special day it is for them.
Throughout the years, I looked for books to bring to class to share at story time, but they were few and far between. So, I decided to write one!
Can you share if you used any mentor texts for your story? If so, how did you use them?
Because the story is a retelling of Clement Clark Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas,” I used that as a mentor text to help with the structure, rhythm, and rhyme. Then I added a Latinx spin, and took a more playful, jubilant approach to capture the joy of this wondrous celebration.
What 3 words would you use to describe your book?
Magical, Festive, and Love-filled.
What was your favorite part of the publication process with this story?
I had a wonderful experience from start to finish. My editor at Harper Collins, Luana Kay Horry, was a joy to work with. But if I had to pick a favorite part of the publication process, it would be seeing how the illustrator, Alejandro Mesa, interpreted my story. I literally gasped when I saw the full color illustrations. I couldn’t believe how he had taken my cuentito and brought it to life so beautifully, so magically.
What 3 recommendations would you give writers who are starting out?
Sheila Colón-Bagley is a children's book author. Born in Puerto Rico, but raised in Philadelphia, PA, Sheila draws on her dual heritage for inspiration for her books. She is motivated by a desire to provide multicultural children with more stories about families that look and live like they do. Her debut picture book, "La Noche Before Three Kings Day" (HarperCollins, 2023) illustrated by Alejandro Mesa, captures the magic and wonder of this beloved holiday through a child's eager eyes.
Sheila holds a B.A. degree in journalism from Temple University, and lives in North Carolina with her family and a spoiled Havanese dog named Vader.
X (Twitter): @sheilaluvsbooks
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