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Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

“There is such a thing as magic, and the Beatles were magic.” ~ Paul McCartney

All illustrations © 2015 Adam Gustavson (click to enlarge)

I remember February 9, 1964 like it was yesterday — the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show!

There, in my aunt’s living room, I tried to process the heart-swelling moment, the excitement, the energy, the burst-wide-open-never-be-the-same-again feeling. Just look at them! Those Edwardian suits, black pointy boots, cool haircuts! They were good looking, different, charming, revolutionary. I could barely breathe as Paul sang, “Close your eyes, and I’ll kiss you . . . ”

My uncle bought “Meet the Beatles” for me from a record store downtown. I plastered the walls of my bedroom with Beatles pics I had cut out from teen magazines. I collected Beatles bubble gum cards and read everything I could get my hands on about John, Paul, George and Ringo. I began writing faithfully to a new penpal who lived in Liverpool, dreaming of the day when I could set foot on British soil.

I still count my lucky stars that I was just the right age to experience the onset of Beatlemania. As I grew up, so did their music. None of us could have foreseen the lasting impact they’d ultimately have on music history, composition, production and pop culture. Half a century later, they’re still number one.

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via Okan Arts

1. Just in case you missed it, wanted to point all Julie Paschkis fans to the lovely post about her by Patricia Belyea at Okan Arts. What a treat to get a mini tour of Julie’s gorgeous Seattle home and learn a bit more about her passion for quilting. As one would expect, each room is a creative haven with its many colors, textures and charming objets d’art.

via Okan Arts

As you probably know, Julie is a multi-talented force of nature — an award winning author/illustrator, textile designer/quilter, champion pysanky decorator, and a good cook and baker! We’ll be featuring her new bilingual poetry book, Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems (Henry Holt, 2015) soon!

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2. New picture book alert! Lick your chops and open wide for There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight (Random House, 2015) by Penny Parker Klostermann and Ben Mantle!

We all know that “there was an old lady” who swallowed lots of things. Now meet the old dragon who swallows pretty much an entire kingdom! Will he ever learn a little moderation?! This rollicking rhyme is full to bursting with sight gags, silly characters, and plenty of burps! Parents and kids alike will delight in Ben Mantle’s precisely funny illustrations and in Penny Parker Klostermann’s wacky rhymes.

Debut author Penny Klostermann has penned a zany send-up of “there was an old lady who swallowed a fly” that’s a riot to read aloud. She proves her Medievalish muster by featuring a delirious dragon sans decorum whose antics inevitably lead to much bloating and burping (what do you expect when you guzzle and gulp like there’s no tomorrow?). It’s one thing to swallow a knight, a steed, a squire, a cook, and a lady — but a castle and a moat??!! Ben Mantle captures all the gustatory gulping and nonstop nonsense with his colorful, vigorous, high-octane illos. Clippity, clippity, clippity clop to your nearest bookstore and (politely) swallow this one whole. It is, in short, a GAS. :D :D :D (Click here for Dragon’s Blog Tour.)

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3. Shopping for just the right gift for a bookish friend? Check out these cool mugs from The Literary Gift Company. Pick a pre-printed classic or order a personalized mug with any title and author’s name on it (eg., “Pies I Have Loved” by Cornelius Rattigan). :)

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4. On what would have been Princess Diana’s 54th birthday, blogger Tori Avey celebrated the People’s Princess with a batch of her favorite Bread and Butter Pudding as prepared by Chef Darren McGrady, who cooked for the royal family at Buckingham Palace for over a decade before moving into Kensington Palace to cook for Diana and her boys.

breadandbutterpudding

via ToriAvey.com

Like Tori, I remember vividly that fateful Sunday when I first heard the saw news of Diana’s death. Can you believe August 31 marks 18 years that she’s been gone? How Diana would have doted on Prince George and Princess Charlotte if she were alive today! The Bread and Butter Pudding was a special treat in Diana’s otherwise health-conscious diet.

You may remember my mentioning Chef McGrady in a previous post about the famous Chocolate Biscuit Cake favored by both Prince William and the Queen. The Bread and Butter Pudding recipe is included in Chef McGrady’s wonderful cookbook, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen (Thomas Nelson, 2007), a must-read for all royal watchers. For now, visit Tori’s webpage for a virtual taste and step-by-step recipe instructions and photos.

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5. Having a baaaaad day? Then you need a Mary Kilvert sheep fix! This Somerset-based artist has created a distinctive line of sheepish homeware products reflecting her love of the English countryside. She first began making miniature needle-felted sheep back in 2008, inspired by a fictional character she created called Baatholomew, who knitted himself a colorful jumper (sweater) so he could stand out from the flock. Naturally all the other sheep copied him by knitting jumpers too (different colors and patterns to reflect their distinctive personalities).

bluesheep

sheeptray

Sheep-Plate-462x462

eggcup

maryshopexterior

Mary’s shop in Somerset.

sweetpea

Well, wouldn’t ewe know it? As soon as word got out about Mary’s baaaaad sheep (whose fleece was white as snow) — they became an instant success, and very soon their likenesses began appearing on plates, mugs, dishes, aprons, tea towels, stationery and bags. Adorable and fun! Visit Mary’s website for more (don’t worry, if sheep are not your thing, she has some equally irresistible doggy stuff). :D

marydogstuff

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6. One of the books I read and especially enjoyed during my summer blog break was Anne Bustard’s debut middle grade historical novel, Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont USA, 2015). There are so few children’s books set in Hawai’i, even fewer that explore the subject of bullying in which the victim is a white character among ethnically diverse kids.

anywhere cover

It’s 1960 and Peggy Sue has just been transplanted from Texas to Hawaii for her father’s new job. Her cat, Howdy, is stuck in animal quarantine, and she’s baffled by Hawaiian customs and words. Worst of all, eighth grader Kiki Kahana targets Peggy Sue because she is haole–white–warning her that unless she does what Kiki wants, she will be a victim on “kill haole day,” the last day of school. Peggy Sue’s home ec teacher insists that she help Kiki with her sewing project or risk failing. Life looks bleak until Peggy Sue meets Malina, whose mother gives hula lessons. But when her parents take a trip to Hilo, leaving Peggy Sue at Malina’s, life takes an unexpected twist in the form of a tsunami. Peggy Sue is knocked unconscious and wakes to learn that her parents safety and whereabouts are unknown. Peggy Sue has to summon all her courage to have hope that they will return safely.

This story will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. Peggy Sue’s voice is engaging and compelling, and I found myself remembering those times when I felt intimidated by tough, mean girls who hung out in the restroom smoking, giving anyone who dared to enter a menacing stare. The book also brought back pleasant memories of taking hula and sewing lessons, and basking in the warmth and talkiness of extended family. Of course it felt good to “return” to a familiar setting and culture. Be sure to check this one out!

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rattyspicnic

7. Would you like to host (or virtually attend) a Harry Potter themed dinner party? What about a nice Wind in the Willows picnic, a Peter Rabbit Easter Brunch, a Queen of Hearts Tea Party, or a Hobbits Party complete with seed cakes, scones, apple tarts and mince pies? Sound good? Head over to Food in Literature, a thoroughly delicious and inspiring site hosted by Australia-based blogger Bryton Taylor. Bryt serves up recipes based on some of her favorite books (mostly children’s and YA fantasy), along with great craft and entertaining ideas. She is especially fond of Harry Potter (hear that, Julia?), but also whets the reader’s appetite for noshes à la Sherlock Holmes, The Great Gatsby, Mad Men, Ulysses, Pride and Prejudice, and The Da Vinci Code. Both printable recipes and video demonstrations can be viewed at Bryt’s site. Here’s a sample video of Bryt making Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee:

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8. Heads up, teapot collectors! Talk about cute as a button. LOVE these Avoca Button Print teapots. They’re available in 2-cup or 6-cup sizes and are made in Ireland. Top off the fun with a set of button ceramic mugs. :) Want.

avocateapot

button mugs

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Wishing you an eventful, delicious, inspiring last-week-of-August! Be kind. Keep smiling. :)

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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8 Paddingtons for 8 years of blogging

Hey, Boo. We’re baaaaaack!

Another August, another blog birthday. Alphabet Soup is now 8 years old!

Recently, my 16-year-old niece Julia, (crazy-good YA book reviewer at Peach Print and A Perfection Called Books) asked me why I started blogging. Isn’t it obvious? Because I’m nuts.

What other possible reason to spend hours days cranking out posts for invisible, sometimes imaginary readers licking their lollipops out in the ether?

Well, come to think of it, there are several good reasons:

  1. A lifelong love of books
  2. Creative expression
  3. A habit of eating
  4. A hungry mind
  5. Colin Firth, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, et. al.
  6. Curiosity and self discipline
  7. Good excuse to set the table and play with teacups and teddies
  8. Cultivate positivity in a harsh world

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1. Loving the bright and colorful screen printed greeting cards and paper goods by The Seapink, a NewYork-based design studio owned by Boyoun Kim and Sue Jean Ko. These talented gals originally met several years ago in printmaking class at the School of Visual Arts and bonded over their mutual love for silkscreen printing. Their cards and prints exude a cheerful childlike innocence and are just the thing to brighten up any occasion.

Of course I especially love their food and tea time designs, but their animals and flowers are equally happy-making. Check out their website and Etsy Shop for more. :)

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2. Tolkien fans will enjoy this scenic tour of Hobbiton recently featured at Literary Vittles. You probably know the Lord of the Rings films were shot in New Zealand. Thanks to blogger Alina and photographer Greg, we can all enjoy a peek of The Shire movie set with notable quotes from the books! What a gorgeous, magical place — you kind of expect Bilbo Baggins, Mr. Frodo or Sam to pop out at any moment. Best thing about hobbits? Hairy feet and big appetites. :)

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3. From Epicurious, “57 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Cook Right Now.” Lots of great tips here and it was fun to see which things on the list I’m already doing. The suggestions range from the very simple “Buy a new kitchen sponge,” to the interesting “Buy your avocados at a Mexican grocery store,” to the sensible “Bake your pies in glass pans,” to the slightly eyebrow-raising “Get your knives professionally sharpened.” Cause there’s always room for improvement, right?

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#52 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

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“Isn’t that the only way to curate a life? To live among things that make you gasp with Delight?” ~ Maira Kalman

A.

Ah-hA!

TheRe You Are.

Are you ready
to REAd the

Alphabet?

perhAps you should
put on youR
ThinKing
CAP
(but don’t think too much)

Pretty much everything Maira Kalman does makes me gasp with delight.

I don’t know how she does it, or why it happens, but with each new book that delight intensifies. I am convinced she must eat magical cakes or a proliferation of napoleons prepared by exceedingly handsome mustachioed pastry chefs, or as in the case of this particular picture book, artfully burnt toast and ginger tea (steeped in whimsy).

In Ah-hA to Zig-Zag, her new alphabet book written especially for kids and the forever young at heart, the letter A stands for CAP, F for a hat From France that is “fluffy and frothy and fantastic and funny,” and Q for “quite the toaster.”

Though the book cleverly spotlights “31 Funny Excellent Beautiful Surprising Helpful Amazing Objects” from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC (to celebrate its re-opening in December 2014), only three objects actually begin with their corresponding letters — Pocket, Umbrella, and Zig-Zag (Chair). 

But that’s just what makes this book so totally Maira. Instead of the conventional, “A is for Apple” format, this alphabet à la Maira is an idiosyncratic commentary, an affectionate conversation with YOU where she free associates with her chosen objects in funny, unexpected, and surprisingly profound ways. We get a good dose of those 26 beautiful letters alright, along with a fascinating design history primer spanning centuries.

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