Joseph Slate, a native West Virginian, has always loved to paint and write. "I majored in journalism at the University of Washington in Seattle, worked as a reporter on The Seattle Times, was an editor for Foreign Broadcast Information Service (Washington, D.C., California, and Tokyo), then took a degree in fine arts at Yale, although I never illustrated my own books. My painting took a direction that was at odds with the fine art of illustration.
"My ideas come from everywhere: a childhood drawing I did of a porcupine, a silly song I once sang to a godchild, and my teacher-niece and pupil-grand nephew getting ready for kindergarten, all kicked off an idea for a book. Now I am writing novels, and it's the same what-if approach, although the first one came out of my West Virginia boyhood. It's called Crossing the Trestle, and the young narrator faces an obstacle I did as a child."Mr. Slate is Professor of Art Emeritus at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he taught for 30 years. He now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Patty. A Marine Air Corps veteran, he and his wife have set foot on all seven continents and traveled in 39 countries. They have lived in both Japan and Italy."Snacking is my big vice, especially chocolate and oatmeal raisin cookies. To keep my weight down, I take tai-chi courses with a world grand master and play water volley ball."Awards: National Bookseller's and New York Public Library's annual lists, Library of Congress citation, Ohio and Kansas State Reading Circle lists, Colorado and Wyoming School Children's 1998 Best Book finalist, 1998 Americas Commended list, Publisher's Weekly best seller list (twice), Delaware's l997 Blue Hen Award, Ohioana Library Association's Award for distinguised service in the field of children's literature.copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Animals clean their stable in preparation for a very special visitor. PW praised this ``quiet, understated rendering of the Nativity'' that ``resonates with genuine warmth and spirit. Wolff's accomplished block prints convey the gentle friendliness and generosity of the occasion.'' Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
PreS-Gr 1 A beautiful book with an insubstantial text. In a simple story told in rhyme, stable animals ask ``Who is coming to our house?'' `` `Someone, someone,' says Mouse.'' With anticipation, each animal helps to prepare ``their house'' for the unnamed guests. By nightfall, the stable is readied and the animals welcome Mary and Joseph. A double-page illustration shows the animals gazing upon the baby Jesus cradled in his Mother's arms. Wolff uses the same linoleum block and wash technique so effective in A Year of Birds (Dodd, 1984) and A Year of Beasts (Dutton, 1986). As in the earlier titles, the unusual perspectives and figures breaking through the black-lined boundaries add to the visual drama. Here, rich earth tones give a sense of the natural humility and love of the stable birth. Preschoolers and some toddlers will easily recognize most of the animals portrayed, but unless children already know the Christmas story they won't appreciate the importance of the human visitors, since Mary and Joseph are identified only by name. This may not be an obvious first choice as a holiday book or an animal identification book, but it is worth consideration for either shelf. Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, Wis.
"This Nativity story's perspective will envelope the youngest listeners. . . The rolling cadence of the large-print text makes this ideal as a read-aloud." -Booklist
"Wolff portrays her animals with unusual sympathy and occasional touches of humor. . . A lovely addition to the Christmas canon." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review "This well-crafted picture book resonates with genuine warmth and spirit." -Publishers Weekly