Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - Thao Lam
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Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Sing along with me if you know the words, “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows – like a light bulb!” Keep reading…

This song brings back fond childhood memories of Christmas assemblies in a gymnasium filled with kids, singing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at the top of their lungs. I know this song off by heart but never realized it originated from a book and was even more surprised when I did a little digging into the history of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Written by Robert L. May and illustrated by Denver Gillen, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer claimed to have been created by a father to comfort his daughter as her mother was dying of cancer. Robert L. May’s wife did fall ill to cancer and passed away and he did have a daughter but the reasoning behind the creation of Rudolph is false. Every year around Christmas retail giant Montgomery Ward buys and gives away colouring books as a promotional stunt but in 1939 they decided to save money and create their own colouring book for distribution; their in-house advertising copywriter created Rudolph.

Rudolph the reindeer possesses an unusual luminous red nose. He was teased mercilessly and excluded by his peers because of his glowing nose. Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Rudolph saves Christmas and ends up gaining social acceptance from his peers for his heroism.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,a children’s book review by Thao Lam

Author Robert L. May

(July 27, 1905 to August 10, 1976)

Robert L. May was born to an affluent secular Jewish family and grew up in New Rochelle, New York. He graduated from Dartmouth College. Robert’s family was hit hard during the Great Depression and lost all their wealth, forcing Robert to take a low paying job in Chicago as an in-house advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward. Rudolph’s physical abnormality was inspired by Robert’s painful childhood; he was often taunted as a child for being small and shy. He settled on the deer as a central character because his 4-year-old daughter was fond of a deer at the Chicago zoo.


Illustrator Denver Gillen

I wasn’t able to find any information on Denver Gillen. If anyone out there has any info, please share.


Publisher Applewood (1967); Later Edition edition (1967)

ISBN-10 1557091390

ISBN-13 978-1557091390