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Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

Put on your aprons, lab coats and best bibs!

Ann McCallum and Leeza Hernandez, who tessellated our taste buds and dispelled our fear of polygons, fractions and tangrams with their delightful Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds (Charlesbridge, 2011), have just published a wonderful companion cookbook featuring six edible science projects.

In Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds (Charlesbridge 2014), they serve up a bit of geology, chemistry, astrophysics and forensics, successfully turning “toil into tasty and drudgery into delicious.”

EYSH 6-7

When you think about it, the kitchen is the best laboratory around — a fun place to experiment with various ingredients and methods with delectable and sometimes surprising results. Ann’s recipes give upper elementary kids a chance to learn about The Scientific Method, Atoms and Molecules, Properties of Matter, Inherited Traits, Rocks and Minerals, and Our Solar System with hands-on activities in a familiar setting.

Author and Recipe Maven Ann McCallum shows off Atomic Popcorn Balls (photo by Tom Fedor/The Gazette)

A little puzzled about atoms, elements and molecules? Munch on a batch of Atomic Popcorn Balls. Ever wonder why oil and vinegar don’t like to mix? Dip some veggies into a honey barbecue sauce dressing while contemplating density. And what are black holes, anyway? See how gravity swallows up sausage bits right in your muffin tin. And I can’t think of a more appetizing way to understand sedimentary layers than by making a pan of pizza lasagna.  :)

Atomic Popcorn Balls photo by Ann McCallum

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Dear Mr. Firth,

You must allow us to tell you how ardently we admire and love you.

To celebrate your 54th birthday, we’re serving up a 3-course repast here at Alphabet Soup: a brand new picture book, a spot of tea, and you.

Whether as Fitzwilliam Darcy or Mark Darcy, you truly take the cake. May we be so bold as to say you are stunning wet, dry, and everything in-between?

And boy, can you rock a cravat and waistcoat.

We remain your loyal fans, wishing you the best birthday ever.

With deep affection and hearts a-flutter,

Every female in the world with a pulse
xoxoxoxo

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♥ FIRST COURSE ♥
Goodnight Mr. Darcy by Kate Coombs and Alli Arnold

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an earnest writer and a department store sniffing artist in possession of talent and wit must be in want of a good parody.

For award winning author Kate Coombs and award-winning illustrator Alli Arnold, a send-up of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice à la beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon was just the thing to set their bonnets a-twirl.

In the great ballroom
There was a country dance
And a well-played tune
And Elizabeth Bennet –

So begins this tidy tale of moonlight and romance, as all are gathered at the Netherfield Ball — Lydia and Kitty looking pretty, Mr. Darcy surprised by a pair of fine eyes, Jane with a blush and Mr. Bingley turned to mush, and let’s not forget a certain gossiping mother and a father saying ‘hush’.

(click to enlarge)

Those familiar with Pride and Prejudice know that the Ball is a crucial scene — where Darcy has singled out Elizabeth, and caught off-guard, she agrees to dance with him. They are allowed to engage in unchaperoned conversation (gasp!), their unguarded repartee ever-so-temptingly weakening their resolve.

In Goodnight Mr. Darcy (Gibbs Smith, 2014), Kate has retained the simple rhyming structure and lulling cadence of Brown’s Goodnight Moon, but with a brilliant tongue-against-blushing cheek makeover that outlines all the delectable aspects of the prim and proper Darcy/Lizzy conscious coupling from ‘cute meet’ at the dance to mutual mooning over each other at home to happily ever after. The Mr. Bingley and Jane pairing adds a bit of ‘mushy’ humor boys will appreciate, while the whole concept of a fancy dress ball with tipping of top hats, flitting of fans and oh-so-civilized how-de-do’s will have special appeal to girls.

(click to enlarge)

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Callooh! Callay!

How to Behave at a Tea Party is officially out today!

What happens when opinionated Julia tries to teach her carefree little brother, Charles, how to behave at a tea party? This sweet and silly take on the classic manners theme is filled with sibling antics, laugh-out-loud moments, big imagination, and plenty of heart, making it perfect for readers of modern classics such as Fancy Nancy and Ladybug Girl. It’s also great for parents of tantrum-throwing preschoolers looking to impart some wisdom on how to cope with life’s surprises.

Julia wants nothing more than to teach Charles proper tea party etiquette, but things are not going as planned. The tiny sandwiches have been gobbled up by the dog, Charles is using sugar cubes as building blocks, and the neighbor kids have eaten the centerpiece. Will Julia and Charles find a way to play together?

Happy Pub Day to Madelyn Rosenberg and Heather Ross!

Dust off your fancy hats, polish your silver teaspoons and get ready to put the kettle on. Review coming soon right here at Alphabet Soup!

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

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Toronto-based author Monica Kulling is here today to talk about Spic-and-Span!: Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen (Tundra Books, 2014), the sixth title in her award winning Great Idea series which features marvelous inventors.

I must admit my prior knowledge of Lillian’s life was limited to Myrna Loy’s portrayal of her in the 1950 movie, “Cheaper by the Dozen.” Though I assumed she must have been an extraordinarily energetic and supportive person to be married to fellow efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth and co-parent a rambunctious passel of kids, I did not know the extent of her brilliant accomplishments as an industrial engineer, psychologist, professor, inventor and author in her own right, especially following Frank’s death from a heart attack at the age of 55.

The Gilbreth Family

In Spic-and-Span!, we first see how Frank and Lillian worked together in the early 1900’s to “show factory workers how to get the most done in the least amount of time.” Using a motion picture camera to film tasks, they were able to spot unnecessary movements, helping workers find the “one best way to do every job.” Of course they also implemented the Gilbreth system in their own household, streamlining everyday activities like brushing teeth, making beds, etc.

Art © 2014 David Parkins (click to enlarge)

But once Frank died in 1924, Lillian was faced with the monumental challenge of raising 11 children on her own and finding work at a time when factories wouldn’t hire a female industrial engineer, even one with over 20 years of experience. Eventually she was hired by Macy’s to improve its cash room operations, and later by the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company to improve kitchen design.

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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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