Personalized Christmas Book: The Author’s Inspiration

Personalized Christmas Book

I love all things Christmas, but most of all, I love seeing it through children’s eyes and the magic it brings.

Our personalized Christmas book, ‘Twas the Mouse Who Saved Christmas, does just that. As the story unfolds page by page, it reveals the magic of the season to children. 

We sat down with our author, Phil Haussler, to ask how he was inspired to create a story that has become a beloved book by many children. 

Inspiration Behind Personalized Christmas Book

How did you come up with the idea of ‘Twas the Mouse?

Phil: It’s a bit of a winding story. But, for me, that’s usually how these things happen.

Christmas was coming. The stockings were hung. And I was up early with one of my sons.

Mom and brothers were still sleeping and so I told him we needed to be “quiet as a church mouse.” He asked me one of those earnest questions only a kid stops to ask: “Dad, what’s a church mouse?”

Well, I admitted I had no idea. But I’m that dad, so I proceeded to launch into where I thought the idiom might have come from. He was back to smashing his trucks within a few seconds… but my explanation had already led me to imagining a mouse running along the fireplace mantel and sneaking down into a stocking…

So I wrote the idea down in my notebook.

Where did you get the inspiration to make it a retelling of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas? 

Phil: I started writing later that winter and the first draft had absolutely no relation to the classic poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  As you can see by the first draft of the opening:

Our story begins in a hole in the wall,
Two mice are inside, one tall and one small.

Tonight a yummy smell floated in upon the breeze.
A very stinky stench from some very stinky cheese.

Sometimes a story comes quickly and sometimes you fight it.  I loved this idea but it just wasn’t working.

Six months later, I was still fighting it.  That’s when the opening to the classic poem struck me…  I tried overlaying it onto my story…

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature is stirring, except for a mouse.

…and it clicked.

Only one problem: the tense. The first time I wrote it down, I had to write ‘Tis rather than ‘Twas because my draft was in the present tense. Changing the tense is a big deal when you’re rhyming.

It took a me a few days to work through that problem but then everything fell into place. I went from version 2 through version 8 in a single week… not bad considering version 1 took 6 months.

How did you come up with the characters Pipp and Fritz?

Phil: You can start to see Pipp take shape in the very first drafts:

Blizzard, the big one, thinks he’s a pretty big deal
His whiskers start twitching as he pictures the meal.

Blossom, the small one, she just shakes her head,
For she knows …
bread, bed, dead, dread, fed, led, red, said, instead, spread, thread

There’s Blossom, who’s cute and petite
She’s a smart one and quick on her feet.

The more I toyed with the characters, the more I fell in love with casting a tiny mouse as the hero of the story.  Eventually, Blossom transformed into our heroine, “Pipp Squeak” and Blizzard got cut altogether.

Every protagonist needs an antagonist. When your hero is a mouse, who better to cast as the bad guy than a mustachio’d cat named Fritz?

And the Story Unfolds

Here are a few snippets of the book showing how the first drafts unfolded into the story you know today.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except for a mouse.

Meet Pipp Squeak, the adorable but mischievous mouse who lives in Santa’s wall.

Pipp Squeak

That night she’d skipped dinner, she was tired of cheese,
But then something yummy floated in on the breeze.

Pipp goes looking to “borrow” a cookie…

Pipp with cookie

She ate but a mouthful before loading her sack,
But just as she finished came a sound at her back.

Pipp finds St. Nick’s cat, Fritz — and in the commotion accidentally rips your child’s name from Santa’s list!

Santa's list

Tripping and flipping, down she went zipping!
She tried to grab hold but her fingers kept slipping!
Until the last moment when she felt her claws gripping…
But then a strange sound…what was that?

Paper rrrrrrrrrrrrrripping!

Can Pipp save Christmas for your child? You’ll need to read the rest of the story to find out!

As with all our personalized children’s books, the child is the star of the story in ‘Twas the Mouse Who Saved Christmas. The child’s name is on the front, back and spine of the book and intertwined throughout the story, both in text and images.

We hope this personalized Christmas book becomes a holiday tradition in your family and is enjoyed for years to come.

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