five, six, seven . . . (okay, nine) happy things on a tuesday

1. First things first! You’ve probably already heard, but this bears repeating again and again and again:

Colin Firth will be voicing Paddington in the new movie!!


I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I first heard about this last week — actually two lovely writer friends sent me a news link within seconds of each other with the same message: OMG! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?!

And I died because I’ve loved Paddington forever, have read all his books numerous times and own 30+ Paddington stuffed bears and visited Paddington Station and like eating marmalade sandwiches and want a duffle coat and give people hard stares and want to change my last name to Brown and, and . . .

I mean, I was excited enough when I heard P was doing a genuine-for-real movie, but then to learn that of all the actors in the entire world with nice voices it will be COLIN FIRTH saying all of Paddington’s lines! Paddington’s character will be computer generated, but as Colin said, “Paddington will have something of me in his DNA because I’m going to do some sessions wearing one of those helmets with cameras to capture my face muscles, and all that data will somehow be incorporated into Paddington.”

Holey moley, two of my favorite guys morphed into one! Colin Firth face muscles for crying out loud. Too, too much!


One of my friends said, “It’s almost like Colin’s doing this just for you.” SCREAM. Oxygen, I need oxygen! We’ll have to wait till 2015 before the movie comes out. Sigh. And here I thought I couldn’t possibly love Paddington or Colin any more than I already do . . .

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2. Today, September 24, is a VERY GOOD DAY for new book releases. Here are three notables worth kicking up your heels for:


Three Big Cheers for Greg Pincus on the release of his debut middle grade novel, THE 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K. (Scholastic, 2013)! Though I’m familiar with Greg’s poetry via The Late Bird (2012) and Gottabook, his social media chops via The Happy Accident, and his culinary skills via my 2010 Poetry Potluck, I’ve yet to read any of his fiction. This book even has its own theme song, and equally as important, there’s pie! Check it:

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Happy Pub Day to Virginia author and National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine! Her YA historical novel set in the 70’s, SEEING RED (Scholastic, 2013), is a powerful story of family, friendship and race relations in the South. I loved and featured two of her previous books, Mockingbird (2010) and The Absolute Value of Mike (2011), so I’m really looking forward to digging into this one.

Publisher’s catalog description:

Life will never be the same for Red Porter. He’s a kid growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Rocky Gap, Virginia.

Red’s daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business, a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store rolled into one, where the slogan — “Porter’s: We Fix it Right!” — has been shouting the family’s pride for as long as anyone can remember?

With Daddy gone, everything’s different. Through his friendship with Thomas, Beau, and Miss Georgia, Red starts to see there’s a lot more than car motors and rusty fenders that need fixing in his world.

When Red discovers the injustices that have been happening in Rocky Gap since before he was born, he’s faced with unsettling questions about his family’s legacy.

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And Happy Book Birthday to my fave cupcake, pie and cookie baking Oregon author friend Lisa Schroeder! She’s published another sweet treat for fans of It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets — FROSTING AND FRIENDSHIP (Aladdin, 2013)! No surprise that I’ve been especially anxious for this one, which is a story about Lily, who’s friends with both Isabel and Sophie from the first two books:

Publisher’s catalog description:

Has Lily bitten off more than she can bake? Another sweet treat from the author of It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets.

On a scale of one to ten, twelve-year-old Lily Hubbard is a zero when it comes to baking. Her cookies turn out salty, her cakes tend to lean, and things are always overcooked. When Lily is invited to be a part of the mother-daughter book club called The Baking Bookworms, she is excited and terrified. It seems like she is the only one who didn’t inherit the baking gene.

But she does have the music gene, which is why she’s forming a band that will audition for their school’s annual Spring Fling. If, that is, Lily can balance her priorities. Because Isabel, one of the Baking Bookworms, has asked Lily to help plan a surprise birthday party for their mutual friend, Sophie.

Soon, Lily finds herself knee-deep in sugar and sheet music as she tries to juggle her responsibility to her bandmates AND give her friend the best party ever.

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3. There are also three other noteworthy books released earlier this month you should check out:


Award-winning YA author Jennifer Hubbard has just published her third novel, UNTIL IT HURTS TO STOP (Viking, 2013). I love Jennifer’s beautifully nuanced, multi-layered, emotionally resonant character-driven stories, and especially admire authors writing realistic fiction addressing difficult topics (grief/suicide) as she did in her first two books, The Secret Year (2010) and Try Not to Breathe (2012). Her new book examines the long term effects of bullying.

Publisher’s catalog description:

In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick. Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?

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Grace Lin fans will be pleased to see a new early reader about the adorable twins Ling and Ting. In LING AND TING SHARE A BIRTHDAY (Little, Brown, 2013), the six-year-old sisters share gifts, cake, and wishes. I love these sweet stories and the charming illustrations — isn’t childhood supposed to be a time of innocence? Now I really want red shoes and green shoes and a checked dress.

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Award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani just published LITTLE MISS MUFFET (Sky Pony Press, 2013), another charming addition to her extended nursery rhyme series. Can’t wait to see what clever elements she’s added to surprise and delight eager munchkins with her unique version of this classic tale.🙂

Publisher’s catalog description:

Poor little Miss Muffet. She just can’t seem to catch a break! All she wants to do is eat her curds and whey in peace. But, when a rather terrifying spider appears, she desperately scurries away. Frantically searching for some much-needed solace, she ventures outside, only to be startled by a vivacious frog, a squawking crow, and easily the largest moose ever seen! What else could she possibly encounter outside? And will she ever get back to the safety of her tuffet?

Rediscover this adored, classic nursery rhyme with delightfully charming illustrations by acclaimed author and illustrator Iza Trapani! Incorporating all the directional words kids need to learn early on in this silly story, Trapani creates a wonderful rendition of a perennial favorite that’s sure to have kids hoping for the little miss to find a safe space from all those fearful creatures.

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4. In case you need a chocolate fix and possibly missed it, here’s the link to Paper and Salt’s recent post about Roald Dahl, featuring interesting tidbits about his love for chocolate and a recipe for Frozen Homemade Kit-Kat Cake. Yummers!


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5. Finally, love love love “All Good Slides Are Slippery,” a piece by the inimitable Lemony Snicket from the September 2013 issue of Poetry Magazine, in which he presents a children’s poetry portfolio with poems not made for children, since he is “suspicious of anything written specifically for children.”


All the poems (accompanied by Chris Raschka’s fetching illustrations) are new to me, as well as several of the poets. Snicket’s comments are equally as entertaining: “Carl Sandburg is an American man who doesn’t live anywhere, due to death.”

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Okey dokey.
Happy Tuesday!
lalalalalalalala . . .
Wait. Colin Firth’s facial muscles??!!!!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

27 thoughts on “five, six, seven . . . (okay, nine) happy things on a tuesday

  1. Wow, that is a lot of happiness. I smiled through every line.

    And I think we should plan a gala to see that movie! You may need friends to keep you in your seat. Did you know I’m good at wrestling down happy people?


    1. LOL — oh, can you tell I’m excited?🙂 Wrestling down happy people — I didn’t know you were so skilled at that, Jeannine. A gala might definitely be in order — everyone would have to wear duffle coats to the premiere though . . .


    1. Happy Book Birthday, Lisa! I am SO happy you’ve written another book about baking and friendship. Just got my copy and started reading last night🙂. I like the name Lily.


  2. I am so excited about Paddington. (Do I dare sneak my Paddington into the theater with me?) I do like Colin Firth (I know, you’re going “LIKE? LIKE? NOT ADORE?!), but I am actually really impressed with all the other casting–it looks absolutely perfect. Yay!


    1. I agree — the casting is wonderful. Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Brown is especially cool (throw in a little Downton Abbey while you’re at it!).🙂

      We shall have to do something to elevate your CF “like” to LOVE. hmmmm . . .


  3. Heehee. A little excited, are you? That does seem like serendipitous casting.

    Thanks for the heads-up on these great-sounding books.

    One other good thing about September 24: It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday. (Not as exciting as the other news, though.)


  4. I added many of these wonderful books to my ever-growing list, Jama. The baking story sounds very sweet (no pun intended) and the book “Until It Hurts To Stop” is quite intriguing. I will find Grace Lin’s and Iza Trapani’s books for sure for the grand-girls-they look so special. I’m happy you’re happy! What a lovely day you had!


    1. You’re right. Now I feel like rereading the entire Series of Unfortunate Events books again. I miss reading about Sunny biting the table. I think she’s my favorite character. Who do you like?


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