Le Bon Temps: The Twelve Days of Christmas in Louisiana by Jean Cassels
The story begins with an invitation from Cousin Rosalie to Cousin Paul to spend the twelve days of the holiday in New Orleans with her family.
I'm sending you a ticket to come visit us for the twelve days of Christmas. This is a special time in Louisiana. Christmas doesn't really end until twelfth night (January 6 in New Orleans). That's when Dad and I always take down the tree and Twelfth Night is the start of Carnival, with really fun parades and costumes.
In the double-page spreads which follow for each day of the twelve, Paul writes home to describe the events and places he enjoys with Rosalie, all famous Louisiana experiences--the causeway across Lake Pontchartrain and one state bird, the brown pelican in a cypress tree, two blue-eyed white 'gators at the Audubon Zoo, three marsh ducks at the White Kitchen Eagle Preserve, four river boats on a excursion up the wide Mississippi, and five golden horns in a jazz band parading down Esplanade Avenue.
Paul also takes in the six ghosts at the haunted Myrtle Plantation, seven treasure maps at the museum of privateer Jean LaFitte, eight bottles of red sauce at the tobasco factory on Avery Island, nine crawfish in Cajun country, ten agile amphibians at the Rayne Frog Festival, eleven buzzing state insects making honey for the beignets, and twelve strands of sparkling beads thrown by the trolley-riding Phunny Phorty Phellows who officially begin Carnival.
Lynne Cravath's busy, humorous illustrations spread across the pages to provide plenty of local color, even spilling over onto the clever endpapers in which posters for Wynton Marsalis, Satchmo, Paul Prudhomme, Truman Capote, and other Louisiana luminaries are plastered on a busy corner building. The author thoughtfully includes an appendix with all the basic state facts (capital, state flower, state bird, etc.) and a list of Louisiana notables--from Dr. Michael DeBakey to Terry Bradshaw and Fats Domino--and their contribution to American life. This book is a trip--a visit to a fascinating chunk of America, fun to visit and fun to read about.
Laissez le bon temps roulez!