Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stable in Bethlehem: A Countdown to Christmas by Hulme & Andreasen, a new arrival, and The 13 Clocks by James Thurber

Stable in Bethlehem: A Countdown to Christmas, written by Joy N. Hulme and illustrated by Dan Andreasen is a board book in with a countdown from the number 12 down.  Obviously, I'm getting to my last little stockpile of Christmas books a bit late but if you have a little one who is in need of a Christmas book and still at the tearing stage, Stable in Bethlehem is a good one.

Over a stable in Bethlehem, 12 drowsy doves are cooing,
Snuggling in the fragrant hay, 11 cows are mooing.
Weary and resting in their stalls, 10 donkeys nod their heads.
Scurrying over the stable floor, 9 mice run from their beds.

That's three page spreads' worth that I just quoted, the donkeys and mice sharing one layout.  The next page made me laugh:

8 shepherds wrapped in woolen robes watch over their flocks by night.

The illustration is a tiny bit funny because there are 8 shepherds watching a mere 7 sheep.  But, Stable in Bethlehem is a counting book, not a logic book.  On the next page, you count the 7 sheep.  As the mother of a little one, I probably would have already counted the sheep along with my child.

When I received this book from Sterling Children's, I didn't think it looked all that attractive, cover-wise, but I really liked it a lot when I opened the book and read.  The illustrations inside are much prettier than I expected, brightly colored but they have a nice, "soft" look that's lovely.  And, the book fit my most important requirement for a children's book:  a comfortably rhythmic text that's pleasant to read aloud.  Beginning readers will need a lot of help with words like "frankincense" if you keep the book around long enough, but I like the fact that the author didn't avoid adding a difficult word that's relevant.

Highly recommended, particularly if you'd like to share the Christmas story with a very young child in a way that's educational and factual without being in any way religiously dubious or emphatic.

More Christmas reviews will be forthcoming.  I spent a good portion of yesterday in the car, so that makes 5 days during which I spent a major portion of my day driving.  I am very happy to be at home and going nowhere, just cleaning and writing, today!

Arrived in the mail, yesterday:  

Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver!

This was one of those cases of "Buy a book for someone, buy one for yourself."  At least I bought a used copy instead of spending the big bucks.  I'm on page 76 or so and absolutely loving the reading.  I need inspiration desperately.  Now that we've finally got a decent kitchen, I want to get back to cooking!  But, it's been so long that I've been hoping to find something basic.  Well, Jamie's Food Revolution is fairly basic.  There are a few things I'll have to ask the spouse to explain, but not many.  I gushed so much I actually inspired Huzzybuns, last night.  We had a terrific supper.

The only problem I've found with this cookbook, so far (and most others by well-known chefs) is that cookbooks by popular chefs tend to ignore the fact that not everyone lives in a big city and has access to unusual ingredients.  And, in fact, some ingredients that don't seem unusual may even be hard to locate.  I noticed Jamie Oliver uses a lot of red chiles.  We were unable to find any at all -- fresh or dried -- last night.  Still.  I'm inspired. I've already got a recipe picked out for experimentation, tonight.

I finished The 13 Clocks by James Thurber, last night.  A children's book written in 1950, it's a quick read that would make an excellent RIP challenge book.  It has a seriously creepy villain (a duke who is so cold he claims to have frozen the 13 clocks in his home and who regularly feeds suitors of his niece to the geese), a prince who decides to take on the challenge and a hilarious sidekick with an "indescribable" hat who admits that he may not ever remember anything accurately -- but he's cheerful and anxious to help.

The 13 Clocks is typical Thurber -- funny, extremely witty, full of brilliant wordplay.  If you have a youngster you read to, it's well worth hunting down a copy.  Or, if you just like a clever story, read it for yourself as I did.  I got my copy (used) for $1 at Off-Square Books in Oxford, MS, this weekend.  It's obviously been around the block and back, a few times . . . 'tis pretty beat-up.  The illustrations are every bit as terrific and funny/creepy as the story, so it's another highly recommended book.  Definitely add this to your list if you're a regular Readers Imbibing Peril challenge participant.

More later!  Gotta check the dryer and finish emptying the dishwasher.  Fun times.

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

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