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Read and Spin

The must-have Christmas album of 2009 is Kermit Ruffins’ Have A Crazy Cool Christmas! There are 11 classic tunes given some spice by Ruffins, Neal Caine, Matt Lemmler and Herlin Riley, with special guests Troy “Trombone Shorty”

Andrews, Irvin Mayfield and members of Rebirth Brass Band. Add to those two upbeat Ruffins-penned hits: “Crazy Cool Christmas” and “A Saints Christmas.” Even Great-Grandma will be on her tootsies! In the latter, the trumpeter of Tremé sees Old Saint Nick “swinging in the Superdome” and asks him for “the biggest Christmas present, ever … the Saints in the Superbowl!” Make this joyful music No. 2 on your wish list. And as for the Who Dat nation’s No. 1, Ruffins says, “C’mon Santa baby, before we get too old.”

Children’s l Alex Beard, author of The Jungle Grapevine, is no stranger to New Orleans. His studio on Royal Street is only one of the places his work can be viewed in the city. Four of his whimsical paintings grace the walls of dessert heaven Sucré. Besides these Crescent City sites and his studio in New York, Beard’s African animal kingdom will be a main attraction in Borders bookstores across the nation this holiday season. Lap listeners will be delighted as they follow Turtle, Bird, Elephant, Snake, Crocodile, Gazelle, Lion and Hippo as they play a silly game of telephone.

Beard’s bright illustrations take center stage and with each reading, one notices another stroke of genius. The Jungle Grapevine has a multitude of companion games and puzzles to add varied interactive play to an educational gift.

Cookbook l The P&J Oyster Cookbook is a collaboration of New Orleans cookbook author Kit Wohl and the company’s Sunseri family with the mission to make your mouth water. Dozens and dozens of recipes alongside good-enough-to-eat photos teach you how to prepare these savory mollusks raw, grilled, fried, baked, in a gumbo or in a pie. Recipes from all the greatest restaurants in our oyster-loving city will have you in your apron in no time – or at least making a reservation for your next rendezvous.

Calendar l Practice your Pilates with this 2010 calendar featuring aptly-named poses at 12 local landmarks including Rock ‘n’ Bowl, Café du Monde and Audubon Park. Spontaneous Zest & Pleasure celebrates just that in our quirky fun-filled city. Mamas of this project Alice “Dallas” McNamara and Alyce Morgan Wise are contributing funds from each purchase to Gulf Restoration Network. It is a great way for the Pilates aficionado and New Orleans enthusiast to start off the year healthy and happy.

–Alisha Murphy

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