Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Today's read... The Baker's Dozen by Aaron Shepard

If we lived in Europe, today's read might have been a better fit toward the beginning of this month. December 6th is Saint Nikolaus Day in several countries. In Germany, we would invite Saint Nikolaus and Knecht Ruprecht into our house every year (many communities do have people who play the roles and go to the houses. My husband and older son enjoyed doing this a couple of years themselves). But since this, obviously, does have a connection to Santa Claus...although a thin one in many respects... I decided to take a peek at this read 

Also, it isn't a new release but rather has been around for a few decades. So, let's take a peek!

by Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Wendy Edelson
Skyhook Press
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Van Amsterdam the baker was well known for his honesty as well as for his fine Saint Nicholas cookies. He always gave his customers exactly what they paid for -- not more and not less. So, he was not about to give in when a mysterious old woman comes to him on Saint Nicholas Day and insists that a dozen is thirteen!
The woman's curse puts an end to the baker's business, and he believes it would take Saint Nicholas to help him. But if he receives that help, will it be exactly what he imagined?
Find out in this inspiring legend from Dutch colonial New York about the birth of an honored American custom.


There are those stories, which can be told over and over again year after year. This is one of those.

Van Amsterdam baked the most delicious things, and everyone loved to visit his shop, especially when it came time to bake the Nikolaus cookies. He wasn't only great a baking. He was very fair as well and made sure that customers received exactly what they paid for. No more and no less. When an old woman entered his shop and excitedly announced she wanted a dozen cookies, she delight turned to anger as he gave her twelve. She claimed thirteen complete the dozen, and he wouldn't budge. What happened next turned his ideals upside down.

This story takes its inspiration from a legend during colonial New York, and the story telling lets that time period shine. It carries a traditional flair, flows wonderfully, and allows listeners to sink into the world. It makes for a lovely read-aloud and reminds of a fairy tale. There's a dusting of magic, an important lesson to be learned, and the importance of generosity beams bright. While it does center around the Saint Nikolaus celebration of December 6th, it does work very well for Christmas, too.

The illustrations are very well done and bring the historic scenes across with authentic atmosphere. There are tons of details worked in, which invite listeners to explore each image again and again on their own. The emotions and situations come across clearly as it balances right with the text.

This is one of those reads to put on the Christmas bookshelf and enjoy whenever the Holidays roll around.

And here they are...
Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of "The Legend of Lightning Larry," "The Sea King’s Daughter," and many more children’s books. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.
Wendy Edelson has applied her award-winning skills to a wide range of illustration projects, including picture books, pet portraits, posters, and puzzles. Among her clients have been Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the U.S. Postal Service, Cricket Magazine, McGraw-Hill Education, and the American Library Association.

While putting this post together, I ran across several readings of the story on Youtube and thought I'd share, at least, one of the links with you to enjoy, too.

No comments: