Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

Guess who’s celebrating her 60th Anniversary this month?


She isn’t 60 years old, silly. She’ll always be SIX. And a city child. Who lives at The Plaza.

But 60 years ago, the first Eloise book was published: Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grownups by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight. It became an instant phenomenon and was followed by four sequels: Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime, Eloise in Moscow, and Eloise Takes a Bawth. To date, these five original titles as well as other books based on the Eloise character and the art of Hilary Knight have sold an estimated 6 million copies. :)

Here’s what I like

my Eloise bookshelf

Here’s what you should do

make a splawsh

Whenever things get the teensiest bit dull, I skibble and skiddle and oh-so-artfully sklathe through any of the Eloise books.

Here’s what she taught me

live LARGE



eat oatmeal every morning or you’ll dry up


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

Tear the ticket.
Load the freight.
Sound the whistle.
Raise the gate.

Clank! Chug-chug! Whoosh!

Alphabet trains.

Art © 2015 Ryan O’Rourke (click to enlarge)

All Aboard, Letter-lovin’ Railroad Buffs!

Author Samantha R. Vamos is here to tell us all about her clickety-clack-cool new rhyming picture book Alphabet Trains (Charlesbridge, 2015)!

Not too long ago, we had so much fun cruising and vrooming through Alphabet Trucks (Charlesbridge, 2013), that we were pretty excited when this shiny new book hit the rails.

Since I’m especially fond of trains (blame it on the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and the fact that I met my husband in London while he was designing a railroad in Algeria), I was anxious to ask Samantha a few questions about writing and researching this 26-track gem.


A is for Auto Train,
Load your car on the rack.

B is for bullet train —
high speed on welded track.


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Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Welcome to the Big Top!

In the center ring, behold the rotund Circus Chef as he pulls off the most amazing feat of all: feeding all the circus performers!

(click to enlarge)


I’ve never turned a cartwheel, and I’m dizzy in high places.
I couldn’t ever be a clown — I don’t make funny faces.

But put me in the kitchen, and I think you’ll be delighted.
Join us for a circus meal. Everyone’s invited.

I handle special orders and unusual suggestions.
And if you have an allergy, just come to me with questions.

Put me in the kitchen, where the coffee’s percolating.
I’ll mash and melt with pleasure. I can’t keep the circus waiting!

My days are long and sweaty, and the chaos never ends.
But still, I find I’m most content when cooking for my friends.


Don’t you love him already? For each picky palate, for each quirky personality, this chef aims to please.

For the Ringmaster who’s always on the go, a picnic of salami and mini baguette stashed in his top hat. For the homesick Ukrainian Strongman, babushka’s vushka recipe. And if you must feed a Juggler who likes to juggle (rather than eat) anything that’s round? A square meal, of course!


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Huzzah, Fine Friends, Huzzah!

Put on your deerskin skirts and mantles, your finest waistcoats and breeches, your linen aprons, your three-cornered cocked hats and buckle shoes.

‘Tis a banner day for those of us who like to eat our homework. :) Yes, the third book in the popular Eat Your Homework series by Ann McCallum and Leeza Hernandez officially hits shelves today!!

You may remember how these clever, ravenous ladies tessellated our taste buds (Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds (2011)) and cooked up culinary magic in the kitchen lab (Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds (2014)). With their lip smacking recipes, easy-to-digest info and fetching illustrations, these books quelled math phobia and demonstrated scientific principles at work in our everyday lives.

And now, with Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds (Charlesbridge, 2015), Ann and Leeza serve up six chewy slices of America’s early history by highlighting events and food from 1620 – 1789. That would be from the time the Pilgrims landed in America till George Washington became our first President. :)

Wrap your lips around some Thanksgiving Succotash while reading about the arrival of the Pilgrims and how the Wampanoag people taught them to hunt and grow food in the New World. Sweeten your understanding of the thirteen original colonies while getting down with some Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt. Nosh on Lost Bread while considering what was behind the French and Indian War.

No lesson on slavery and Southern plantation culture would be complete without a tall stack of Hoe Cakes, and when there are rumblings of discontent about unfair British taxation and 45 tons of tea get dumped into Boston Harbor, you’ll want to fortify yourself by joining the patriots for coffee and Honey-Jumble Cookies in the taverns where they’re making big plans. Finally, when it’s time for full-out war and signing the Declaration of Independence, nothing better to get you riled up than an Independence Ice Cream food fight!


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What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

Is it that steamy mound of creamy mashed potatoes, begging for a generous splash of savory gravy? Grandma’s candied sweet potatoes or Aunt Beverley’s green bean casserole? Maybe for you it’s all about the turkey itself with its golden brown crispy skin — moist when you slice into it, even better with cornbread stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce. Can’t forget the pies — homemade pumpkin or apple? Yes, please!

Safe to say, this traditional holiday meal wouldn’t be quite as delicious without all the sharing — the sharing of cooking, baking, and serving tasks, and of course, having family and friends sitting around the table to devour every last bite.

(click to enlarge)

Pat Zietlow Miller’s delectable new picture book, Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story (Schwartz & Wade, 2015), invites us to step back into the 19th century to feast with a lively family of 10:

Mama, fetch the cooking pot.
Fetch our turkey-cooking pot.
Big and old and black and squat.
Mama, fetch the pot.

An enthusiastic young boy coaches each member of his family on a specific task: Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads the dough, Brother bastes the turkey, Grandpa boils the cranberries, Grandma bakes pumpkin pie, Auntie mashes potatoes, Uncle pours cider, and even Baby’s got a job — to “be a sleeping mouse.” With his brother and sister, the boy also makes paper pilgrim hat placemats, and when all is finally done, he calls everyone to the table. Yum!


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