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Bonjour! Êtes vous affamé? (Hello! Are you hungry?)

I don’t know about you, but after reading the yummy recipes in Kids Cook French (Quarry Books, 2015), I’m starving! At this very moment, I would love to feast on Claudine Pépin’s Spring Menu: Eggs Jeannette with a Salad, Chicken Breast with Garlic and Parsley, Sautéed Swiss Chard, Parsnip-Potato Purée, and Almond Cake. Mmmmmm!

You may know Claudine from any one or all three of the James Beard Award-winning PBS cooking series she appeared in with her father, legendary French chef Jacques Pépin. It is natural that Claudine (an accomplished home cook and wine educator who married a chef), should publish a cookbook for kids, since she grew up with fine cuisine and now cooks most nights for her 11-year-old daughter Shorey.

Art copyright © 2015 Jacques Pepin

True to Claudine’s guiding philosophy — that there’s no such thing as “kids food,” only “good food” — Kids Cook French doesn’t look or read like a children’s cookbook. You won’t find rebus-like directions in large print with little measuring spoons, or yet another “recipe” for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This is not to say that the recipes are overly complicated, only that adult supervision is required for what are clearly family projects.

Claudine (center) with Shorey, Rollie, Jacques and Gloria (by Tom Hopkins).

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Fanciful, imaginative, cheery and charming — The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes by Deborah Ruddell and Joan Rankin (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015) is precisely my cup of tea. Add mouthwateringly irresistible to the mix and there’s no doubt this exuberant celebration of food has my name written all over it.

I love Ruddell’s fresh take on perennial kid favorites like watermelon, strawberries, raisins, milk shakes, apples, brownies, mac and cheese, cocoa and birthday cake. Grouped by season, the poems take us from spring’s Strawberry Queen in her elegant red beaded suit, to summer’s cool pinkness at a Watermelon Lake with its “pale green shore” (and little black seed boats!), to a toothsome autumnal stop at the Totally Toast Cafe (4 flavors of marmalade), and finally to marvel at “The World’s Biggest Birthday Cake,” the stuff of your wildest winter dreams. Yum!

With generous measures of humor, sensory detail, exaggeration, cheekiness, surprise and adventure, Ruddell’s rhyming verses explore mealtime scenarios kids can readily identify with: the yucky appearance but lip smacking tastiness of guacamole, the picky eater (ogre) who’ll only eat one kind of food, the universal love of mac and cheese with its superstar status, eating comfort foods on gray days, lusting after someone else’s dessert, and the all-important dilemma of whether to eat that last brownie (um, yes!). Of course we mustn’t forget the momentous “Arrival of the Popcorn Astronauts,” a prime example of child-like whimsy at its best:

The daring popcorn astronauts
are brave beyond compare —
they scramble into puffy suits
and hurtle through the air.

And when they land, we say hooray
and crowd around the spot
to salt the little astronauts
and eat them while they’re hot.

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Double your oven mitts, double your fun! (A natty flame-proof suit wouldn’t hurt either.)

Charles Ghigna (“Father Goose”) is an award winning poet, author, speaker and nationally syndicated feature writer.

Tea time in his Alabama tree-house (photos by Debra Ghigna).

 

☕ Cuppa of Choice: “I love tea! I drink a cup of hot green tea nearly every day. One of my favorites is Uncle Lee’s 100% Organic Green Tea. I brew two tea bags in a cup of hot water and sometimes add a squeeze of lemon. I also love to play Tea Party on the porch with our four-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte Rose. She always makes sure I hold up my pinkie just right.” ;-)

☕ Hot Off the Press: Springtime Weather Wonders Series (Hail to Spring!, Raindrops Fall All Around, Sunshine Brightens Springtime, A Windy Day in Spring (Picture Window Books, 2015).

☕ Visit Charles Ghigna’s Official Website

☕ ☕ ☕ Lovely poem Charles wrote for his wife (his favorite HotTEA):

 

TEA TIME

for Debra

Like tea bag paper,
gauzy and thin,
we steep in the dark
letting love in.

The longer we steep,
the stronger the brew;
tea party perfect,
in love with you.

~ copyright © Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.

 

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Lee Bennett Hopkins is an award winning author, poet, editor, anthologist and the recipient of the Christopher Award and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Medallion for “lasting contributions to children’s literature.”

Tea Time at home in Cape Coral, Florida (photos by C. Egita).

 

☕ Cuppa of Choice: “Tea, a drink I adore . . . I like varied teas, but particularly Twinings of London Ceylon Orange Pekoe.”

☕ Hot Off the Press: Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner (Abrams, 2015). 

☕ Visit Lee Bennett Hopkins’s Official Website

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♥ More HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry here.

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

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

Today, for your feasting and ogling pleasure, the brilliant work of UK-based designer, illustrator, hand lettering artist and typographer Rob Draper.

His specialties include creative typography and layout for print, branding and typography/lettering for apparel, large scale typography/murals, and art direction.

Love his unique “canvases” — pencils and erasers, for example.

His Coffee Time and Napkin Time series, part of his current obsession to draw and hand letter on discarded everyday objects, are especially cool.

Did you ever think a paper cup, coffee stirrer, napkin, paper towel or piece of toilet tissue could be so amazing?

Of course my absolute favorites are his use of actual food.

See more of Rob’s work at his website, Instagram, or tumblr.

Happy Tuesday!

♥ More alphabetica here.

 

 

alphabet iconCertified authentic alphabetica. Made by hand just for you with love, ink, and lotsa cups.

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

Please help yourself to a cup of tea and a bite of peach cream cheese danish.

Happy first Poetry Friday of April, and Happy National Poetry Month!

Though I always look forward to Poetry Month, April is now bittersweet because it’s the month my mother died. Even a year later, it hasn’t fully sunken in. I think of her daily, remembering so many little things — her love of stripes, her big laugh, the sound of her chopping garlic and green onions in the kitchen.

I don’t think about the thin frail woman she was at the end, but the strong, energetic, busy person she was throughout most of her life — always a good sport, the one everybody could depend on to get things done.

It’s true what many people say — part of you fears you may forget the person you lost, and sometimes you feel guilty for happily getting on with things. This universal feeling is beautifully expressed in Christina Rossetti’s poem. Remember when the Dowager Countess Violet shared a line from it with Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey Season 4? Even as we happily celebrate holidays such as Easter with loved ones, we inevitably think of those we miss.

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