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If you’re feeling a little thirsty, you’ve come to the right place.

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (Millbrook Press, 2014)Irene Latham’s first poetry collection for children– is officially hitting shelves on Monday, September 1!

With fifteen beautifully crafted poems, Irene invites us to meet a fascinating variety of animals who frequent a water hole on the African grasslands.

Whether it’s those charming little meerkats standing guard in a nearby burrow, a tentative giraffe acrobatically positioning itself at water’s edge, a herd of playful zebras cavorting in a metaphorical “rugby tangle,” or a solitary rhino venturing out for his moonlight drink, we can easily see what a busy, life-sustaining place this is from dawn to dusk.

Written in free verse and rhyme, Irene’s spare, evocative poems are by turns lyrical, whimsical, informative, amusing, enlightening, reflective and reverent. She did a brilliant job of zeroing in on precisely those aspects of animal personality and behavior that best lend themselves to poetic interpretation. Each verse is paired with a nonfiction note offering further details about how the animals thrive and function in the ecosystem, illuminating interdependence, survival and diversity.

Anna Wadham’s gorgeous illustrations convey the many moods of the savanna, sometimes rust orange and warm, sometimes jade green and refreshing, other times dreamy cerulean and soothing. Her emotive renderings nicely complement the verses, indeed welcoming the reader to “this vital place/where earth and sky convene,” inspiring us to wander, meander, and freely appreciate this unique poetic celebration of wildlife and habitat.

I especially enjoyed hearing from the new-to-me oxpeckers, whose comical poem I’m sharing today, along with the ethereal “Impala Explosion,” a stunning example of how terse rhythm and neat rhyme can perfectly capture the animals’ spirit and movement.

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If you want a paleta, raise your hand!

Mango? Lime? Coconut? Strawberry? Pineapple? What do you fancy? We need one last tasty lick before summer ends.

Carmen Tafolla’s story makes me want to visit the girl narrator’s barrio — where “the smell of crispy tacos or buttery tortillas or juicy fruta floats out of every window, and where the paleta wagon rings its tinkly bell and carries a treasure of icy paletas in every color of the sarape.”

What Can You Do With a Paleta? is pitch perfect storytelling. Dr. Tafolla captures the fun, anticipation and utter deliciousness of this favorite Mexican ice pop treat, the very essence of summer and childhood.

And I LOVE the way she reads her story aloud. You’ll see what I mean:

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Wasn’t that great? My favorite part is the blue mustache. :)

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7 cool things on a monday

“Seven days without laughter makes one weak.” ~ Mort Walker

Copyright © 2014 Margie Moore

1. Big thanks to children’s book illustrator Margie Moore for allowing me to showcase her adorable “Mouse’s Kitchen” in my blog header this month. Since I had to crop some of the illo to fit the header space, thought I’d post the original so you can see some of the details at the bottom. Margie says she did this watercolor for Babybug Magazine. FYI, Margie is CakeSpy Jessie Oleson Moore’s mother. Sweets and awesome talent run in the family! :)

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2. Heads up, Poets: Richer Resources Publications is seeking poems about food and eating for a new anthology to be published in 2015. You can submit up to 3 original poems (simultaneous and previously published okay). Deadline: November 1, 2014. More here.

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3. Have you heard about the brand new BookDragon Book Club? It’s presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and hosted by Terry Hong and HapaMama’s Grace Hwang Lynch, who invite you to join them each month for tasty reads by notable Asian Pacific American authors. They will announce a new book the first Tuesday of each month and then hold a live virtual conversation with the author on the last Tuesday. In between, they will post reviews, guest posts, resources, etc., with lots of chances for discussion and interaction.

Their inaugural title is Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh (Beth) Nguyen. It’s been getting rave reviews and Terry Hong says it’s one of her top 3 favorites for 2014 thus far. It sounds intriguing — a connection between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Vietnam? Click here to learn more about the club and watch Beth’s welcome video.

The live virtual chat with Beth (and with fellow readers, bloggers, etc.) will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, August 26) at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.

4. Speaking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, novelist and biographer Pamela Smith Hill will be teaching a free online course via Missouri State University that runs from September 22 to December 1, 2014. Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work & Writing Life, “will expand your understanding of the literary themes, style, and historical underpinnings of Wilder’s Little House series.” Click here for full course description and enrollment information.

 

Some of you may know that Pamela Smith Hill is also the editor of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography (South Dakota State Historical Society, 2014), the much anticipated previously unpublished autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, to be released on November 20, 2014. Learn more about this exciting book at The Pioneer Girl Project site.

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5. If you’re a fan of haiku and haibun, check out Penny Harter’s guest post, “Circling the Pine: Haibun and the Spiral Image” at The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog. We’ve had the pleasure of featuring the work of both of these fabulous poets here at Alphabet Soup, and are pleased to mention their new books:

Penny’s The Resonance Around Us (Mountains & Rivers Press, 2013), just came out last Fall, and Adele’s new book, A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All (Welcome Rain Publishers, 2014) will be out in December, and is now available for pre-order.

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6. Because of my interest in the handmade and heart-made, and because the spoon is my favorite utensil, I find Josh Nava’s 365 Spoons project very cool. This Nashville woodworker is hand carving a spoon from local wood every day in 2014. You can follow Josh’s progress on Instagram. Here’s a short video showing him at work:

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7. Last, but certainly not least, in case you missed this short film about Maira Kalman from Gael Towey’s wonderful “Portraits in Creativity” series, I’m sharing it here. I love that Maira thinks everyone is “deeply eccentric,” and that she’s playing a duck in Isaac Mizrahi’s production of “Peter and The Wolf.”

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Happy Monday, All!

I hope at least 7 good things happen to you this week — that you write 7 good words, share 7 kind words with others, and reflect on 7 things you’re thankful for. :)

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

 

“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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