Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The Money We'll Save, written and illustrated by Brock Cole. Farrar Straus Girooux, Douglas & McIntyre. 2011. $18.95 ages 4 and up
Are you looking for a new family Christmas story to go under the tree this year? I might have just the thing. It comes from the deft hand and masterful mind of Brock Cole. I have admired his work since first reading The Goats (Douglas & McIntyre, 1987). I am always thrilled to see that he he is gracing us with something new and worth coveting.
All that leads me to tell you about his new book. The children are busy with their chores. Ma's hands are full. So, it's Pa who makes the trip to market with a list of needed items. Before he leaves she issues a warning: "Christmas is not far off, and we must save every penny." Apparently Pa takes her warning to heart (or so he thinks) and rejects all offers of anything that is not specifically on Ma's short list. It is the chicken man who finally convinces him that he has a great deal for him, and Pa comes home with a live turkey poult to be fattened prior to Christmas. If they raise it themselves, they won't have to buy a turkey for the festive celebration.
And so begins this timely tale of a turkey who takes a long more care than Pa had in mind, when deciding to bring Alfred home. It is not an easy existence! How do you keep a turkey in tow? The family tries a variety of ways to keep Alfred in check. None work well. Then Pa puts Alfred out on the fire escape; it seems the problem is solved.
Mrs. Schumacher is not so sure:
"Now where am I to get a breath of fresh air with that great bird doing his business all over the fire escape and gobbling night and day so no one can sleep?" she demanded."
Will hanging Alfred's pen on the clothesline work? Not for the neighbors who must walk below him each day. What if the line were to break? How long can they continue? How will they be able to keep everyone safe until Christmas Eve? Can Christmas come soon enough?
The scenes created to tell this story are vintage Brock Cole: perfect setting, wonderful characters, full of joy and humorous attempts to solve the problems of raising your own turkey dinner. The family does so with creativity, humor and warmth. A lively and lovely read for the holiday season.