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Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

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. Ooh-la-la! There’s a new Crêpes by Suzette picture book app! I’d featured Monica Wellington’s charming story set in Paris back in 2010, so I was happy to learn it’s now been transformed into a fully interactive multimedia experience:

Take your children on a trip to Paris: meet Suzette, the crêpe maker, and her artistic customers in this fun, educational, interactive picture-book app.

As Suzette sells her delicacies over the course of a day, you will be treated to the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, from Nôtre-Dame to the Eiffel Tower. Suzette’s customers along the way are inspired by works of art, such as da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Degas’s Little Dancer. You will learn to speak key French words and phrases—with a perfect accent, bien sûr! You can also listen to the narration in five additional languages: French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Japanese. And at the end of the day, a crêpe recipe and DIY cooking lesson await you! As delicious as Suzette’s crêpes, this book app will captivate children—and parents— who will want to make the trip to Paris themselves. Bon voyage!

Immerse yourselves in French culture, with language, food, music and art:

– Interactive Paris map, with fun extras

– Videos of Paris and pictures of its landmarks

– Great introduction to famous paintings and sculptures

– Crêpe recipe and video cooking demos
– English narration read to you by the author

– Interactive hotspots for practicing French

I played with the app and enjoyed all the delightful features, especially being able to tap any of the human or animal characters on the screen to hear them say the French key words. The videos take you right to the places mentioned in the story, and it’s fun seeing how crêpes are made. A great armchair-traveling introduction to this beautiful city featuring sights, street sounds and music that’s designed for Apple and Android devices. Visit Monica’s website for purchase links.

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2. Love this SLJ Roundup: “Read It, Make It, Eat It: Great Picture Books with Recipes.” Joy Fleishhacker features eleven tasty titles with great hands-on activities to expand the literary experience. We’ve featured most of the titles here at Alphabet Soup, most recently Baking Day at Grandma’s, Gingerbread for Liberty!, Salsa, A Fine Dessert, and Rainbow Stew. Yum!

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3. Do you like to knit? How can you resist this adorable Yoda Tea Cosy? The pattern is available for instant download via TeaCosyFolk on Etsy. I imagine any tea warmed by this cosy will make you a wise person indeed. :)

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4. How about “51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature”? BuzzFeed compiled this list awhile ago, but it’s certainly worth rereading to be reminded of great novels or poems you’re familiar with or some you might want to read because of the excerpts. A couple faves: “I would always rather be happy than dignified” (Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre), and “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” (Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).

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5. I’m a sucker for food art and like the idea of New Jersey artist Jae Yong Kim serving up donuts that never get stale. His are made out of ceramic and sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, white gold and gold luster. Delicious colors and designs!

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6. Ever wonder about the bone china the Crawleys use in “Downton Abbey?” I like to watch the episodes multiple times particularly to study the tableware. I’ve finally identified the china used for library tea times as well as formal meals in the dining room. It’s Spode Stafford White, a beautiful Georgian design with scalloped rims and 22-carat gold accents. It would be lovely to own a cup and saucer in this pattern as a memento of the series, which will end with Season 6 airing in the U.S. January 2016. Next I want to identify Dowager Countess Violet’s tea time china pattern — so pretty! I suspect it’s a Spode design as well.

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7. Check out UK author Christopher William Hill’s “Top 10 Fictional Feasts.” The grandson of a baker who claims to have grown up obsessed with food, he shares excerpts along with his personal thoughts about the books. I’ve only read about half of the titles, the usual ones by Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, and Lewis Carroll, and must admit he’s piqued my appetite for a serving or two of Enid Blyton, whom he calls the Nigella Lawson of children’s authors.

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8. Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky . . . As a panacea for those restless nights in cheap hotels and saw-dust restaurants with oyster shells, treat yourself to a set of J. Alfred Prufrock Coffee and Tea notecards from CS Literary Jewelry. Just curious: have you measured out your life with coffee spoons?

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9. For the woman who has everything, consider this handcrafted taco-shaped clutch by Charlotte Olympia. Made of raffia and suede, it is lined with satin and embellished with Swarovski crystals and embroidered silk organza. Stash your bills in this cute little number and at 50% off, it will only take a small bite out of your budget (*cough*).

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10. Are you familiar with Sweet Ambs Cookie Art? Amber does exquisite work and her decorating tutorials are fabulous. Click here to see all her tutorials, including Rainbow Cookies, Emoji Cookies, Tie-Dye, Pansies, and Marbled Royal Icing. Here’s a fun sample video — “How to Decorate Cupcake Cookies”:

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11. Finally, check out this “How to Make Gummy Lego Candy” video by Grant Thompson, The King of Random. He’d been experimenting on and off for a few years and came up with a recipe using corn syrup, gelatin, water, and Jello. Have fun making these stackable snackables with your kids!

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HAPPY TUESDAY AND HAVE A GREAT WEEK!

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wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!

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

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Fancy a plate of ants and worms, a bowl of lilac nectar, or some crabs and shrimp?

Maybe a bowl of chili or a BLT on whole wheat is more to your liking. :)

Whatever your pleasure, just come right in and take a seat! No reservations required. A good appetite, healthy curiosity and sense of humor are all you need to enjoy If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, a delectably charming picture book by Ellen Fischer and Laura Wood (Scarletta Kids, 2014).

I must confess this book had me at the cover. I was instantly intrigued by all the possible scenarios suggested by the title, and how often does one see a lovable armadillo noshing on a plate of spaghetti and meatballs?  I could already tell this would probably be one funny feast.

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Do you know Lidia like I know Lidia?

photo by Diana DeLucia

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed tuning in to her various PBS cooking shows and browsing through her numerous cookbooks. Besides being a celebrity chef and bestselling author, Lidia Bastianich is a successful restaurateur (4 eateries in NYC, one in Pittsburgh, one in Kansas City), and part of the team who opened Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine market/mall in NYC. She has an exclusive line of high-end cookware and serveware (Lidia’s Kitchen) for QVC. With her daughter Tanya, she launched Nonna Foods, a platform for distributing LIDIA’S pastas and sauces, and with her son Joseph, she produces fine wines at two vineyards in Italy. In short, this woman has a LOT on her plate!

But who knew she also wrote children’s books? I only recently discovered her delightful Nonna Tell Me a Story series, a delightful blend of semi-autobiographical stories and kid-friendly family recipes.

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Once, when we were living in England, Len and I discovered some wild blackberry bushes growing in Wimbledon Common across the street from the school where I was teaching. I was excited because I’d never even seen a blackberry in person before, let alone eat one, and I remembered that famous last line from The Tale of Peter Rabbit:

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

The ones we picked were a little sour, but good with sugar and a dollop of cream. Because of that fond memory, I’ll always associate blackberries with England. I also like to tell the story of how because we didn’t have a whisk or rotary beater in our little flat, Len whipped the cream with a fork! I knew then I had to marry that man with his power arm. :)

Thus enamored of blackberries, I recently devoured a gorgeous new picture book by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall featuring A Fine Dessert called blackberry fool, a decadent English sweet dating back to the 16th century consisting of blackberries, cream and sugar.

In this wholly delectable story, we are treated to not one, but FOUR servings of blackberry fool prepared by four families from four different centuries. Such a tasty slice of food and social history! The families all follow the same recipe steps, but of course ingredient sourcing, methods, tools, and technology change through time. They’re united by their love of this dessert and the joy, anticipation and satisfaction that come with making it. No surprise — they all love to lick the bowl — viable proof that some things never change. :)

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