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“Truth is so rare, it is delightful to tell it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

I’ve been curious about Emily Dickinson’s relationship with children ever since learning that she used to lower baskets of gingerbread to the neighborhood kids.

That’s why I loved Burleigh Mutén’s delightful verse novel Miss Emily (Candlewick, 2014). It gave me a good sense of how Dickinson might have interacted with four of the children in her life: her niece and nephew Mattie and Ned (who lived next door at the Evergreens), and the pastor’s kids Mac and Sally, who lived across the street.

This fun and suspenseful adventure, where Emily and the children disguise themselves as gypsies to catch a glimpse of the midnight circus train, is told from Mac’s point of view. It is clear the kids all adore Miss Emily and she, them, united as they are in imaginative play and a singular brand of friendship.

Illustrations copyright © 2014 Matt Phelan

I’m so pleased Burleigh is here today to tell us more about writing and researching Miss Emily. I daresay “the children’s laughing goddess of plenty” herself would be quite pleased with this story, as it celebrates her fondness for children and the importance of remaining true to one’s inner child: therein lies the truth about who we really are and should always strive to be.

Look sharp! The circus train is here. All Aboard! :)

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Hello my pretties, how are you?

Mr. Cornelius and I are back just in time to celebrate our 7th Blog Birthday here at Alphabet Soup!

Let’s see: seven years, 2 blogging platforms, 1500+ posts, 5 million images, 732 cookies, 354 cakes, 891 pies, 176 bowls of soup, 149 author/illustrator recipes, and the smartest, most loyal, most culturally literate, hungriest blog readers on the planet (not to mention good looking). :D

Who could ask for more?

Well, I constantly ask myself these seven questions:

  • Is Alphabet Soup still relevant?
  • Do I still have something worthwhile to say?
  • Is it normal for a fossil perky young woman to play with alphabet pasta in bowls of tomato soup?
  • Shouldn’t Colin have called me by now?
  • Am I learning something new with each post?
  • Am I crazy to be gluing M&Ms onto the sides of candy bars and making flip-flop cookies with Nutter Butters?
  • Would I miss all my cool online friends if I stopped blogging?

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“Black Bear-y Pie” by Shawn Braley (available as a print or greeting card)

Ah yes. The time has come once again to sniff out a few more pies take a little summer blog break.

I’m looking forward to relaxing, tackling my TBR pile, and inviting Mr. Firth over for some intellectual conversation. :)

But before I sign off, wanted to mention three upcoming titles I’m especially excited about. They all hit shelves on that magical day, August 5, 2014:

 

1. Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta (Candlewick, 2014).

Secret lives, scandalous turns, and some very funny surprises — these essays by leading kids’ lit bloggers take us behind the scenes of many much-loved children’s books.

Told in lively and affectionate prose, this treasure trove of information for a student, librarian, parent, or anyone wondering about the post–Harry Potter children’s book biz brings contemporary illumination to the warm-and-fuzzy bunny world we think we know.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for this one for at least five years, since I’m a big fan of all three authors’ blogs. It will be somewhat bittersweet since Peter is no longer with us, but it will be good to read his words again and remember how much we all admired his rapier wit and finely honed children’s literature chops.

Do check out the cool new Wild Things! website, where Julie and Betsy will be posting “cutting room floor” stories daily up until release date, and where you’ll find their blog tour and personal appearances schedule.

 

2. Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds by Ann McCallum and Leeza Hernandez (Charlesbridge 2014). 

Hungry readers discover delicious and distinct recipes in this witty companion to Eat Your Math Homework. A main text explains upper-elementary science concepts, including subatomic particles, acids and bases, black holes, and more. Alongside simple recipes, side-bars encourage readers to also experiment and explore outside of the kitchen. A review, glossary, and index make the entire book easy to digest.

Remember when Ann and Leeza dropped by to tell us all about Eat Your Math Homework? Happy to see they’ve created another cookbook with a science theme. I hope to try one of the recipes and report back next month. :)

 

3. Spic and Span!: Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen by Monica Kulling and David Parkins (Tundra Books, 2014). 

Born into a life of privilege in 1878, Lillian Moller Gilbreth put her pampered life aside for one of adventure and challenge. She and her husband, Frank, became efficiency experts by studying the actions of factory workers. They ran their home efficiently, too. When Frank suddenly died, Lillian was left to her own devices to raise their eleven children. Eventually, she was hired by the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company to improve kitchen design, which was only the beginning.

Lillian Gilbreth was the subject of two movies (Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes), the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and the first female psychologist to have a U.S. postage stamp issued in her honor. A leading efficiency expert, she was also an industrial engineer, a psycologist, an author, a professor, and an inventor.

Sounds good, no? Will be featuring this one next month, too!

Happy Early Book Birthday, Betsy, Julie, Peter, Ann, Leeza, Monica and David!!

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GIVEAWAY WINNER!

Yes, yes, I know you’re anxious to hear who will be receiving a brand new copy of Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad.

We bribed Scotland Yard with 1,283 Chocolate Almond Cupcakes to help us locate the erudite, ever reliable M. Random Integer Generator. From past giveaways you probably know he is in such high demand that he’s taken to fleeing at a moment’s notice, globe-trotting with famous chefs and Italian clothiers, and geocaching himself just for fun.

All in the name of suspense (it beats a simple drum roll any day).

This time he remarked on the poetic beauty of the entrants’ given names, particularly swooning over favorites “Emmeline,” “Tanita,” and “Michelle.”

Mon Dieu! He actually fell in love with them all, and was indeed at sixes and sevens over having to pick just one winner.

And it is: KIRSTEN LOPRESTI!!

CONGRATULATIONS, KIRSTEN!!! Please send your snail mail address to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so we can send your book out to you pronto!

Thanks one and all for entering the giveaway. Anyone wishing to rendezvous with M. Generator, please send a telegram to: 81 rue de l’Université, Paris. Ooh-la-la!

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“Vacation” by Toby Fonseca (available as a print, notecard, mug, phone case and rug)

Okay, I’ll see you around mid-August or so. Enjoy the rest of your summer — have fun and eat a lot of treats!

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Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

Look what’s officially hitting shelves today!

This charming, whimsical tale very loosely inspired by the real life friendship of Julia Child and Simone Beck is cooked to fingertip-kissing perfection and definitely has my name written all over it.

I literally squealed with delight when I first saw Julie Morstad’s scrumptious, I-could-just-eat-you-all-up ink, gouache and Photoshop illos — so many adorable details and the childlike sophistication is oh-so-français. :)

True, this book had me at the cover, but when I read Kyo Maclear’s spritely celebration of good food, friendship, fearlessly pursuing your passions, growing young, and never forgetting how to have a marvelous time, I could almost hear the real Julia’s rousing cheer, chirrup and hoot of approval. After all, it was she who said, “That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.”

In Julia, Child (Tundra Books, 2014), we meet cooking buddies Julia and Simca, who firmly believe it’s “best to be a child forever” and are therefore dismayed by all the big, busy, hurried, “wary and worried” grown-ups around them.

Art © 2014 Julie Morstad

What to do? Cook special ‘growing young’ recipes, of course. They whip up a delectable feast complete with “fluffy clouds of cheese soufflé,” “perfect loaves of crusty baguette,” and “a golden compote of fresh peaches, sweet as summer sunlight . . . ” Magnifique!

The big busy people devour every morsel, but something isn’t right. Talk about greedy and grabby! Can the girls come up with another recipe to turn these adults into sensible children once again?

I’m so pleased Toronto-based author Kyo Maclear is here today to talk about this mouthwatering story, her best job ever, and what she’s learned from her children. Put on your best bib, help yourself to some Wonder Seeds, and bask in the joie de vivre. Bon Appétit!

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I’m happy to welcome dear friend and award winning author Margo Sorenson back to Alphabet Soup today. :)

The good news is that her middle grade historical novel, Tori and the Sleigh of Midnight Blue (first released in paperback back in 2003), is now available as an ebook!

Eleven-year-old Tori and her family are struggling with the Great Depression in North Dakota, and the death of her beloved Papa has been the severest blow of all. To aspiring writer Tori, everything is changing for the worse—her friends are acting too grown-up, and her little brother Otto invades her privacy. When a Norwegian bachelor-farmer begins courting Mama, Tori writes in her journal that her life will be ruined. What will Tori discover about forgiveness and acceptance as she tries to keep her life from changing?

I enjoyed learning about Scandinavian customs through this beautifully written novel, which reminded me of childhood favorites like All-of-a Kind Family and the Little House Books, where family ties, simple pleasures and a strong sense of community sustain the characters through difficult times.

In the chapter “Missing!”, Tori reluctantly helps her mother roll lefse for Thanksgiving. She usually loves making the traditional flatbread, but this would be their second Thanksgiving without Papa, and besides, she was angry that Mama had invited suitor Bjorn Oppestadt to dinner. How dare she? He wasn’t family!

Today, Margo talks about rolling lefse with her own family. It sounds like such delicious fun. Adopt me, please :).

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