Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

Look who’s here! :)

By now, most of you know I’m a big Jorge Argueta fan. I’ve previously featured four titles from his fabulous bilingual Cooking Poem Series here at Alphabet Soup: Rice Pudding/Arroz con leche (2010), Guacamole (2012), Tamalitos (2013), and most recently, Salsa (March 2015), all published by Groundwood Books.

Today, Jorge is here to talk about Olita y Manyula: The Big Birthday/El gran compleaños (Luna’s Press Books, 2015), a new bilingual picture book that represents yet another milestone in his esteemed literary career as author, poet, publisher and bookstore owner — a semi-autobiographical story that’s especially close to his heart.

Since founding Luna’s Press about 20 years ago, Jorge has published a number of chapbooks by San Francisco poets, but Olita y Manyula is the press’s first children’s book. This charming story features a young girl named Holly (Olita) who travels from the U.S. to visit friends and family in El Salvador. Once there, her aunt, cousin, and two friends excitedly escort her to a special birthday party for Manyula, whose house is within walking distance.

On the way, they stroll through the San Jacinto neighborhood with its colorful painted houses under the “tik-tik, tok-tok” of warm, intermittent rain, laughing and jumping in mud puddles. Rather than divulge any details about Manyula’s identity, the boys instead focus on pointing out several notable landmarks en route (the San Salvador volcano, beautiful Alcehuate River, a cement statue resembling a big handkerchief).


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1. Author and Poet Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose, aka Our Favorite Alabama hotTEA, has some new books out! The Tiny Tales series (four 64-page early chapter books published by Picture Window Books/Capstone, 2015), was inspired by imaginative play with his adorable granddaughter Charlotte Rose.

Kids will enjoy following the adventures of Lucy Goose, Cuddle Bunny, Adeline Porcupine and Bobby Bear. Each title contains 4-5 stories of family and friendship lovingly illustrated by Jacqueline East (Mr. Cornelius was especially excited about Bobby Bear). Read more about Charles, Charlotte Rose, and the genesis of this series in this heartwarming post.

Charles’s new board book, A Carnival of Cats (Orca Books, 2015), was just released at the beginning of September.

There’s a purrrfect little carnival coming to town, filled with adorable cats of all different kinds! In this hint-and-reveal board book, babies, toddlers and cat-lovers alike will enjoy discovering (and guessing) what breed of cat is hiding on the next page. With playful rhyming text from award-winning author Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose®, and beautiful illustrations by celebrated artist Kristi Bridgeman, this exuberant board book will have everyone guessing what cat is that!

Sounds like a fun feline feast for whisker-lovin’ PreSchool and Kindergarten munchkins. Me-wow!


2. Some of you may remember when a certain gray silicone tea infuser named Mr. Tea cavorted in the Alphabet Soup kitchen in search of the perfect teacup.

Lo and behold — Mr. Tea has joined the ranks of the politically correct. He’s gone diverse! Behold the family of different colors, perfect for parTEAing anytime, anywhere in the world.

For two years now, the resident leprechaun and I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Tea’s company. Very daring and extremely playful, Mr. Tea no longer confines himself to teacups, but can be found balancing perilously atop gooseneck water faucets, hanging plant pots, wooden sculptures, and window ledges.

It’s a little “dangerous” to leave anything with a rim lying around, as Mr. Tea will appear out of nowhere just to hang out. We highly recommend adopting your own Mr. Tea. Other than a few rascally antics, he’s quite well behaved, doesn’t talk back, and won’t eat all your cookies.



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Guess who’s having a birthday?

You may remember this pretty-in-pink frosted cutie from Terry Border’s delightful debut picture book, Peanut Butter and Cupcake (Philomel, 2014), where she boinged on a pogo stick and bedecked a castle with colorful sprinkles.

This time it’s Cupcake’s birthday, and she’s planning the perfect themed party with the help of her best friend Muffin. But for every one of Cupcake’s bright ideas (beach party! boat party! makeover session! musical chairs! getting down with the limbo!), Muffin counters with reasons why they wouldn’t work (drippy guests! sick soup! disgruntled burger! squished guest of honor! decapitation . . . gulp).

Talk about a party pooper.

What’s a birthday girl to do? Well, she could follow Muffin through the garden gate. Won’t tell you what happens, but let’s just say it turns out to be the happiest, sweetest, tastiest celebration ever (I wanted to devour all the party guests). Looks like Muffin has topped himself. :)


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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. 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.


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!


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. :)


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).


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!



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.


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.


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?


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*).


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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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!


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

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