When what to their wondering eyes should appear, but a red-and-white knight and eight dragons. Oh dear!

The Knights Before Christmas
By Joan Holub

Ho-ho-ho, boy. . . these knights are dim.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. So when this manuscript from the prolific and wonderful Joan Holub (Little Red Writing, Mighty Dads, Zero to Hero) landed on my roof like Santa and his sleigh, I was jingle all the way. Three dim knights attempt to fend off a bearded, red-clad and would-be invader—all the while mistaking his true identity and purpose: to spread good Christmas cheer all over the kingdom. Full of merry puns and misunderstandings, The Knights Before Christmas brings holiday hijinks to you and your family to enjoy this and every Christmas. 

The Knights Before Christmas is published by Christy Ottaviano Books (an imprint of Henry Holt books for Young Readers).

BTW—you may enjoy my Yule Rule playlist on Spotify.  Its the most merry mix for your castle this Christmas. Crank it up, Kringle!


"Three young knights defend their castle from "a red-and-white knight and eight dragons. Oh dear!" Santa travels back in time to a fanciful medieval Europe with knights, lords, and castles in this clever parody of "The Night Before Christmas." The text unfolds in pitch-perfect rhymes that follow the basic pattern of the classic poem, with the addition of witty wordplay incorporated into speech balloons and in signs, lists, and banners on the castle walls. When Santa arrives to deliver gifts to the castle, the knights see him as an intruder and try to repel his advances. Santa is just as determined as the knights to succeed in his own mission. He flings his presents and holiday decorations into the castle with an evergreen-tree catapult, which the knights then appropriate for the castle's Christmas tree. Digitally produced illustrations in deep jewel tones successfully bring to life the complex physical world of the castle and skillfully meet the logistical challenges of the knights' battle of airborne gifts with Santa. There's an excellent interplay between the amusing illustrations and the polished text, with lots of clever jokes for readers to discover in the art. These knights know how to keep the castle safe and the readers entertained. (Picture book. 4-8)" —Kirkus Reviews

"Brave Knight, Polite Knight, and Silent Knight are “guarding the castle / for their illustrious king” on Christmas Eve. Too bad they didn’t get the memo about Santa’s visit. When the jolly old elf tries to deliver presents, these well-intentioned protectors of the castle take a defensive stance: “Dash away, dash away! / Invader, get out!” A fierce (not really) battle plays out with Santa catapulting (via a Christmas tree) sugarplums and more as he “storms” the castle. This rousing, ridiculous medieval “Night Before Christmas” parody jingles with castle- and holiday wordplay. Cheeky digital illustrations brim with good cheer." —The Horn Book

"What kids will like: Surely you joust! Score this medieval parody of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas a victory for swordplay, chivalry—and comedy." —USA Today

"Packed with Christmas wisecracks and colorful digital illustrations by Scott Magoon, this is a very merry olde Yuletide tale." —Bookpage

"A royal romp of holiday pratfalls and punnery. Yule love it!" —Tom Lichtenheld, bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

"A royal delight of a book! Sure to become a favorite holiday read-aloud in every household throughout the land!" —Judy Schachner, creator of Skippyjon Jones series.


  • Selected by Canadian Family as one of the 25 best Christmas books of all time.
  • The Logonauts bloggers call it a "holiday hoot!"
  • Three Books a Night nobly reviewed Knights one night.


Knights Before Christmas

Behind the Scenes

Here are some sketches I created while working on The Knights Before Christmas.