Friday, November 6, 2009

Alphabet Week -- 5 Days of Great Alphabet Books, Day 5

Since the holidays will be upon us before we know it, I wanted to include an alphabet book that is a special favorite at our house. We use it around Christmastime not really to learn our letters, but to recount the story of Jesus' birth. If you've been reading all week, you'll know that I am biased toward alphabet books that tell a story so that the letter-learning is embedded in some context. Also, I am a sucker for beautiful artwork. B is for Bethlehem, by Isabel Wilner, has both.

The story of the nativity is told in rhyme, each rhyme beginning with a letter of the alphabet. It's a lucid and lovely retelling of the Christmas story -- perhaps not the one you'd want your kids to hear if it's their first time hearing it, but more than adequate for children who are familiar with the biblical account.

The pictures, by Elisa Kleven, are pure joy -- mixed media collage and drawing in vibrant colors that really bring the story to life. Like Steve Jenkins, I don't know anyone else who does collage quite like Kleven does. Her style is unique and gorgeous. These are pictures that I and my kids never get tired of looking at.

It's been around for a while -- long enough to be out in boardbook format -- but if you can track down a hardcover it would be worth it for the larger picture size and the durability. Especially if you, like me, want it to last for many Christmases to come.

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