I've been so erratic in my blogging that the Book of the Week probably should be re-christened the Book of the Month (or even -- the Book of Whenever I Get Around to It). No worries though.
The A-Z of Needlepoint (ed. by Sue Gardiner and published Country Bumpkin Publications in 2005) is a great needlepoint book for beginners. Admittedly, the introductory section is poor -- too brief by a mile. However, the section on needlepoint stitches is where the book truly shines. There are over 60 stitches featured. They are explained in step-by-step fashion with clear photos and descriptive text. Almost all of the "biggie" stitches (i.e., the most popular/easiest) are included. This book is especially good for visual learners.
Having said that, let me also say that this book may not be for everyone. It does tend to take half a page and six photographs to explain what one good chart can. Some people are chart-o-phobic though. Another problem with the book is that it is not very descriptive when it comes to saying how the stitches might be used.
It sounds as if I am saying more negative than positive about this book so let me re-cap the positives: the photos are excellent, the step-by-step instructions are both clear and comprehensive (I've even referred to them myself on occasion) and the format is approachable (small, spiral-bound).
The book is not comprehensive but if you know all the stitches in this book then you have a head start on most needlepointers. I might even go so far as to say that you know as many stitches as you need to! (Ooops did I say that?)