Day 14 - Story Advent Calendar.


Advent Calendar 14th December

The Book Cook
by D.C. Swanson.

The night before Christmas, a blizzard was blowing
And somewhere amidst all the swirling and snowing
A sister and brother—two talented twins— 
Discovered just how a good story begins.

Maria and Matty, eleven years old,
Were kind-hearted children, despite the deep cold.
They’d set out that night in their hats, coats and mittens
To wander the streets like a pair of lost kittens.

In general, these children did everything right
From manners to chores to their homework each night.
But somehow this year neither sister nor brother
Remembered to shop for a gift for their mother.

This gifting omission so greatly upset them
Their father had given permission to let them
Go out in the snow for some last minute shopping
With no time to spare and with no time for stopping.

They hiked from the east to the west side of town
In search of a shop that had not yet shut down.
Their hopes started fading, their spirits were spent
Then over the air came a sweet smelling scent.

The wonderful smell didn’t come from a store;
It came from an alley they’d not seen before.
They peeked in the alley and saw it was leading
The way to a sign of a girl who was reading.

That sign looks so lifelike, Maria was thinking,
In fact, she was sure that the picture was winking.
She stopped in her tracks and said matter-of-factly,
“The girl in this painting looks like me exactly!”

Then Matty came over and looked at the sign
And said, “That’s your portrait, and next to it’s mine!”
Astonished, they stared at their painted reflections
And then underneath them they noticed directions.

“Oh welcome dear friends,” said the small golden writing,
“The Book Cook is near and is kindly inviting
All those who appear in this sign’s illustration
To come learn the magic of story creation.”

They looked down the alley and saw a white door
In front of a windowless yellow brick store.
They walked over to it and paused for a minute
Imagining what in the world they’d find in it.

They summoned up all of the courage they brought
And stepped on a doormat that said “Food for thought.”
They knocked on the door until – creak! - their hearts leapt
The door opened inward and inside they crept.

From outside, it looked like this store was a small room
But inside it felt like a palace’s ballroom.
The ceiling was high, maybe thirty feet tall,
With candlelight chandeliers lighting the hall.

And rows upon rows of immense wooden shelves
Encircled the room and surrounded themselves.
Each shelf had been cluttered with boxes and bins,
With green and blue bottles and rust-colored tins.

And in the room’s center, a cauldron-shaped kettle
As big as a car, made of shiny black metal,
Was brimming with some kind of hot liquid brewing
And it smelled delicious, whatever was stewing.

Well naturally, children would form a suspicion
That this was the shop of a witch or magician.
But nothing about it seemed cold or unpleasant,
And this was their last hope of finding a present.

When suddenly they heard a squeak in the floor;
A gust of wind blew and it slammed shut the door.
The twins whirled around where the sound had come toward
And out of the shadows a figure stepped forward.

A crooked old woman with kindly brown eyes.
She wasn’t much bigger than half of their size.
She had on thick glasses, their frames were bright red.
A faded white hat sat on top of her head.

She wore an old apron that might have been pink,
Except it was splattered with splotches of ink.
She had on a couple of cardigan sweaters;
The top one said “Chef” on the front in gold letters.

Her hands were quite wrinkled, her hair a bit wild,
But there was a warmth that shone through when she smiled.
The children were cautious since she was a stranger,
But soon they determined that there was no danger.

“Oh welcome, dear children,” she said, “to my store!
It’s not like the shops that you’ve been in before.
Just call me the Book Cook! I’m so glad you made it
For here in my kitchen great books are created.

Right there on my shelves we have all that we need
To mix into something delicious to read.
A last minute present? Well you can stop looking!
Let’s whip up a story – come on, let’s get cooking!”

Then quick as a wink she went up on a ladder
To search a top shelf and she made quite a clatter.
She pulled out a bottle and quickly unstopped it
And held it out over the kettle and dropped it.

“It’s simple,” she said, “and it’s truly exciting
To learn what ingredients make up good writing.
These shelves contain characters, subjects, and verbs;
Just sprinkle them in like they’re spices and herbs.”

At this point the twins had been fairly persuaded
That this was a wonderful task that awaited.
They started exploring each bottle and bin
And shared their ideas how their book would begin.

They searched through containers of “heroes and villains,”
Of “animal sidekicks” and “ad-libbing fill-ins.”
They found a wide box labeled “stories with whales”
Right next to a bottle of “fairies with tails.”

And thousands of adjectives lay out in stacks
Near baskets of “fables” and buckets of “facts.”
They dodged a big shelf of “close calls and near misses”
And laughed at a can labeled “romance and kisses.”

They ran through the shelves and they thought it amazing
To see all the storylines, topics, and phrasing.
They had some ideas what their Mom might prefer,
And chose a few words and then started to stir.

As they did their cooking, the Book Cook was telling
The reason she found her creations compelling.
“Oh, books are old fashioned, but trust me, we need ‘em—
To keep your brains growing, you always must feed ‘em!

I know that technology can be fantastic,
But minds can’t survive on just metal and plastic.
A well-balanced diet of letters and ink—
Now that is the recipe that helps you think!"

And so they worked on, and it all seemed auspicious.
Their story progressed, and it smelled quite delicious.
The twins were both pleased with the words they selected,
But just when they thought that their tale was perfected….

Poor Matty tripped over his big snow boot laces
And knocked down a ladder which broke in two places
And shelves tumbled over and bottles were breaking
Right into the cauldron and book they were making.

The words scattered everywhere! Mixed-up and jumbled
Around in the swirling concoction they tumbled.
They ran to the cauldron and looked inside fearing
The very strange story that started appearing…

With pony-tailed dinosaurs playing the drums!
And astronaut frogs baking pies out of plums!
While Little Red Riding Rats rode by on bicycles
Polka-dot snakes got their tongues stuck on icicles!

Blindfolded giants were juggling tires
With samurai schoolchildren singing in choirs!
And scarecrows and porcupines danced a ballet
While wizards in flip-flops were playing croquet!

Some medieval knights started fights in tornadoes
While Farmer Snow White chased her seven potatoes!
And leprechaun penguins were painting in caves
As Vikings in bathing suits surfed in the waves!

“We ruined it!” the heartbroken twins began wailing.
(Remember, these children were not used to failing)
They did their work carefully—neat and meticulous—
But one mistake and now all seemed ridiculous.

Tears started coming, their eyes became blurry—
The Book Cook came over and said, “Don’t you worry!
Well sure it’d be nice if our stories were faultless,
But food is no fun when it’s sweetless and saltless.

You both should be proud of your jumbled-up stew;
You’ve made something here that’s creative and new!
Oh, writing is never a perfect endeavor,
But when it’s a gift, people love it forever.”

They dried off their tears and then lifted the kettle
And tipped out its contents and let it all settle.
And soon it had dried into ink-covered sheets
That told a fun story, and did smell like sweets.

The Book Cook then took up their pages and ink
And wrapped on a cover and gave them a wink.
“I think you’ve created a book to remember.
And this one’s on me. But come back next December.”

They gave her a hug, and with no time to dally
They dashed out the door and ran back up the alley.
They passed by their portraits which waved their good-byes,
And ran through the snow under now-starry skies.

They made it home late and snuck in with their key,
And placed their Mom’s present right under the tree.
They kissed both their parents and crawled in their beds,
And fell right asleep when they lay down their heads.

Well, morning arrived and to their great surprise
Their Mom read the book and had tears in her eyes.
But they were good tears! She was truly elated.
She loved every page, and was so glad they made it.

And so this tale ends with them hugging their mother.
But when stories end, you can go make another!
If ever you’re hungry for magic and laughter,
Go cook up a book and read happily…ever…after.


How amazing is this story? We read it on Twitter and were absolutely blown away! We think it's absolutely perfect for Christmas. We read it to our family and they agreed, now we all want the illustrated version for our future kids!! Written by a father and daughter duo who share poems on Twitter, we hope you enjoy it too! 

Happy Reading!

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