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Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

I’m happy to welcome dear friend and award winning author Margo Sorenson back to Alphabet Soup today. :)

The good news is that her middle grade historical novel, Tori and the Sleigh of Midnight Blue (first released in paperback back in 2003), is now available as an ebook!

Eleven-year-old Tori and her family are struggling with the Great Depression in North Dakota, and the death of her beloved Papa has been the severest blow of all. To aspiring writer Tori, everything is changing for the worse—her friends are acting too grown-up, and her little brother Otto invades her privacy. When a Norwegian bachelor-farmer begins courting Mama, Tori writes in her journal that her life will be ruined. What will Tori discover about forgiveness and acceptance as she tries to keep her life from changing?

I enjoyed learning about Scandinavian customs through this beautifully written novel, which reminded me of childhood favorites like All-of-a Kind Family and the Little House Books, where family ties, simple pleasures and a strong sense of community sustain the characters through difficult times.

In the chapter “Missing!”, Tori reluctantly helps her mother roll lefse for Thanksgiving. She usually loves making the traditional flatbread, but this would be their second Thanksgiving without Papa, and besides, she was angry that Mama had invited suitor Bjorn Oppestadt to dinner. How dare she? He wasn’t family!

Today, Margo talks about rolling lefse with her own family. It sounds like such delicious fun. Adopt me, please :).

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“Your work should be in praise of what you love.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best cooks know that sometimes it’s those intangible ingredients that can make or break a recipe.

A certain slant of light, a sprinkling of happy anticipation, a generous cup of love. Two people can prepare the same dish with notably different results. That’s because cooking is a transformative process — part magic, part spiritual, part meditative. Every cook brings his or her own je ne sais quoi to the table.

In Mr. Emerson’s Cook by Judith Byron Schachner (Dutton, 1998), we see what happens when Irish cook Annie Burns finally discovers what special ingredient she must use to help employer Ralph Waldo Emerson regain his appetite.

Emerson lived at “Bush House” from 1835-1880. Here, he raised his family, wrote his most important works, and entertained leading transcendentalists like Thoreau, the Alcotts, and Elizabeth Peabody.

Fact and fiction are interwoven in this beautifully written gem of a story, which takes place at Emerson’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, where he lived with his second wife Lidian and their three children.

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Remember how excited I was to hear that Colin Firth was going to voice Paddington Bear in the new movie to be released Christmas Day in the U.S.?

The other day I saw the official movie trailer and something felt wrong. Can’t explain it — the bear on the screen looked like Paddington, but he didn’t feel like the character I had grown to love so much from reading Michael Bond’s books. I know how more often than not, the book is usually better than the movie. And the producer of this project did say they were going to put their own spin on the character. But still.

See for yourself:

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Okay, maybe I’m just used to the Paddington puppets from the old TV series. Or maybe I’m stuck on the Paddington of my own imagination. Maybe I like him so much I’d be disappointed no matter what.

Now I’ve learned that Colin Firth has left the film. Apparently it was mutually agreed that his voice didn’t suit the on-screen character they had created (who so far feels more like a “Ted” than a child-centric bear).

Sigh. Wonder who will take Colin’s place. No one can, really.

Sigh.

I really need a marmalade sandwich.

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Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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When is a hot dog more than just a hot dog?

When it’s served on a silver tray to the first reigning British monarchs to ever set foot on American soil!

Yes, that’s precisely what happened when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the United States in June 1939.

The King and Queen arrive at Union Station (June 8, 1939).

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Eleanor Roosevelt decided to host an all-American picnic at Top Cottage, their beautiful countryside retreat overlooking the Hudson River Valley in Hyde Park, New York.

All illustrations © 2014 Victor Juhasz

In Hot Dog!: Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014), Leslie Kimmelman recounts how the indefatigable First Lady planned the picnic and why she felt it was important for both our countries. With Europe on the brink of war and the U.S. in the throes of the Great Depression, this would be a good chance for Americans to set aside their cares for awhile to welcome these special guests. Such a personal gesture of friendship would also allow Americans to see a more human, accessible side to the Royals.

(click to enlarge)

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photo by John Cohen (1970)

Throw me a bone: we’re going to the dogs today in honor of Bob Dylan’s 73rd birthday tomorrow. Ruff!

So, am I the only Dylan fan who’d never heard “If Dogs Run Free”? A 50’s beatnik send-up embellished with Al Kooper’s jazzy piano riffs and Maeretha Stewart’s sassy scat-singing, this oddsauce number was included on Dylan’s album NEW MORNING (1970).

Actually it’s kind of silly to call anything the Archbishop of Anarchy has done “odd,” given his penchant for innovation, reinvention and doing whatever he durn well pleases. Yet this one is indeed unlike anything else in his vast catalog of 600+ songs. It’s spoken word, very Jack Kerouac, black berets, smoky coffee house. It’s so laid back you end up in front.

Hear for yourself:

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IF DOGS RUN FREE

If dogs run free, then why not we
Across the swooping plain?
My ears hear a symphony
Of two mules, trains and rain
The best is always yet to come
That’s what they explain to me
Just do your thing, you’ll be king
If dogs run free

If dogs run free, why not me
Across the swamp of time?
My mind weaves a symphony
And tapestry of rhyme
Oh, winds which rush my tale to thee
So it may flow and be
To each his own, it’s all unknown
If dogs run free

If dogs run free, then what must be
Must be, and that is all
True love can make a blade of grass
Stand up straight and tall
In harmony with the cosmic sea
True love needs no company
It can cure the soul, it can make it whole
If dogs run free

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*finger snaps*

 So deep, Daddy-O.

 

And there’s more. This song was recently made into a picture book illustrated by Scott Campbell, who took the “kids love dogs” theme and ran amok with an animated visual narrative. Celebrating the free-spirited joys of childhood and championing fearless individuality, there’s not a beatnik or beret in sight — just lots and LOTS of dogs.

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