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Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

In my kitchen there’s a chalkboard that says, “I’ve never met a pie I didn’t like.” Ever since birth (i.e., 23 years ago), I’ve been on an eternal quest for pie (who, me?).

So it should come as no surprise that whenever a good pie book jumps out of the oven, I like to be first in line. :)

Today, with the help of three furry pastry chefs, we’re peeking under the crust and sampling some of the goodness in The Good-Pie Party,  a delectable new picture book officially hitting shelves today by Liz Garton Scanlon and Kady MacDonald Denton.

Liz and Kady have cooked up a gentle, reassuring story about making the best of a sad situation and celebrating the lasting bonds of friendship.

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“He who chases his own tail has a full circle moment.” ~ Issa Shih Tzu

Ahhrrrooooo!

I’ve got my nose in the best book!

Why Do I Chase Thee: Classic Poetry for Dogs from Elizabeth Basset Browning and Other Canine Masters by Jessica Swaim and Chet Phillips is tail-waggin’ brilliant and totally blows my ears back. Can you dig it?

Finally, finally, dogs have their day and their say. For far too long, silly humans have discounted their random bow wows, arfs, woofs, yips, and yaps. Here’s proof that some of these mutts were actually sniffing out sonnets and licking limericks with the best of them.

Make no bones about it, this snappy little volume features sixteen of the most celebrated poetic pooches of all time, including four-time Poolitzer Prize winner Rover Frost, iambic puptameter whizzard William Shakespaw, haiku master Issa Shih Tzu, and the somewhat repentant Dogden Dash, who knows just what to do with a rhymed puplet:

SPECIAL DELIVERY

Judging by their ankles, here’s my educated guess:
The FedEx man tastes better than the guy from UPS.

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Happy Almost Spring!

1. Don’t you love our current blog header?  The collage of pretty tea-themed images is by April Rose Illustration, the brand of UK-based watercolour artist and illustrator Siobhan Harrison. Siobhan graciously granted me permission to share a bit of her work, and it makes me happy every time I click on Alphabet Soup and see that lovely teapot, teacup and those yummy cakes.

Copyright © 2014 Siobhan Harrison/April Rose Illustration

Siobhan’s delicate watercolour florals have been used on products ranging from note cards, packaging, gift wrap, greeting cards and book covers, extending through to homewares / kitchen ware and table top ceramics. She’s also illustrated over two dozen children’s books which have been published worldwide.

You can find out more about her work at April Rose Illustration, Siobhan Harrison Illustration, April’s Illustration Blog, and Siobhan’s Sketch Blog. Crafty types may also wish to check out her product page at the Trimcraft website, which features lots of craft supplies and project ideas. Of course you can also follow Siobhan on Twitter and Facebook.

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2. I enjoy keeping tabs on all our Indie Artist Spotlight interviewees. Love this teapot and teacup lamb watercolor by Deidre Wicks at Water in My Paint,

Original watercolor available at Etsy.

and these adorable wee bunnies by Bossy’s Feltworks:

Adopt a bunny at Etsy!

Both are perfect to get you into the Spring/Easter’s coming mood!

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Happy President’s Day!

Can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than by singing the praises of Maira Kalman’s brand new picture book biography about Thomas Jefferson.

I pretty much adore everything Maira does, and I’ve been fascinated by our red-haired, violin-playing, wine-guzzling, pea-loving, Renaissance Man foodie President ever since I first visited Monticello years ago.

In Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything (Paulsen/Penguin, 2014), Ms. Kalman has accomplished the seemingly impossible, capturing the genius, complexity, contributions, contradictions, and affecting humanness of our third President in just 40 glorious pages.

Her disarming conversational narrative, peppered with just the kind of offbeat detail kids love, is fueled by a contaigious enthusiasm for her subject. She begins:

Thomas Jefferson had red hair and some freckles (about 20 I think), he grew to be very tall and oh yes, he was the third President of the United States . . .

What was he interested in?

EVERYTHING.

I mean it.

EVERYTHING.

She mentions Jefferson’s love of books, music, flora and fauna, and that he could speak seven languages. She spotlights the ingenious design of his beloved Monticello,”a Museum of his Mind” with its famed vegetable garden, citing Jefferson’s advocacy of a mostly vegetarian diet. Though he lived a good life, “full of work and love,” it was tinged with sadness: his wife Martha died young and four of their six children didn’t live to adulthood.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

She details Jefferson’s role as a Founding Father and author of the Declaration of Independence, brilliantly humanizing other illustrious figures like Franklin, Adams and Washington via singular details: Ben’s crazy great hat, John’s fiery temper, George’s false teeth. Then it’s all about Jefferson’s presidency (Louisiana Purchase, Lewis & Clark Expedition), before sensitively introducing the topic of slavery.

The man who said of slavery
“This ABOMINATION MUST END”
was the owner of about 150 slaves.

The MONUMENTAL MAN had MONUMENTAL FLAWS.

She tells it straight and true, and does not shy away from mentioning that Jefferson likely had children with Sally Hemings, and what a sad thing it was when people felt the need to hide their background by passing for white. Her despair over these painful issues and puzzlement over Jefferson’s hypocrisy are deftly conveyed in a way that respects young readers and will likely win their trust.

I love how Maira’s hand-lettering alternates with the standard font to highlight asides, personal thoughts and select facts. These words just brim with personality, keeping things from sounding too textbook-y, ultimately strengthening the intimate bond between author and reader.

Illuminated and expanded by vibrant and whimsical gouache paintings rendered in striking jewel-tones, Kalman’s account of Jefferson as President, scholar, statesman, architect, scientist, botanist, connoisseur, author, inventor, and plantation owner is recommended for readers of all ages who appreciate spirited storytelling and creative nonfiction infused with wit, wisdom, and the excitement of discovery.

Who better to tell about the man who was interested in “everything” than a writer and artist who herself is endlessly curious and so brilliant at curating the idiosyncratic ‘everythings’ she encounters in her own life?

If you want to understand this country and its people and what it means to be OPTIMISTIC and COMPLEX and Tragic and Wrong and Courageous, You Need to go to Monticello.

Walk around the house and the gardens.
The linden trees might be in bloom, filling the air with their delicious perfume.
Maybe you will lie down under a tree
and fall asleep thinking about
LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of EVERYTHING.

Five Big Soup Spoons for this one!

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♥ Call Me Ms. Pudding ♥

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Emma modeling an Orla Kiely for Uniqlo floral t-shirt.

I can’t remember whether it was “La Petit Patisserie” or “The Flower Shop” that initially caught my eye, only that it was love at first sight and I wanted more.

I soon discovered that the artist behind these winsome and enchantingly feminine illustrations was none other than 20-something-year-old Emma Block of London, England.

Click to see the process behind “The Flower Shop”

Inspired by vintage clothing, 30′s jazz, 50′s illustrations, old photos, travel and people watching, Emma’s work is delightfully retro and thoroughly modern at the same time. Using paint, colored pencil, ink, cut-paper collage and Photoshop, she creates charming, spritely, a little bit quirky, always refreshing pictures in an inimitable style that has a distinctive handmade quality about it.

“La Petit Patisserie” is available as an archival print via Etsy.

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