soup of the day: spaghetti smiles by margo sorenson and david harrington (+ a pasta recipe)!

Ciao a tutti! Hello Everyone!

Today we’re happy to be celebrating the official release of Spaghetti Smiles by Margo Sorenson and David Harrington (Pelican Publishing Co., 2014).

This playful, lip-smacking story has been cooked up with just the right ingredients: a book lovin’ boy, a crazy-fun uncle, lots of savory, tomato-y, kiss-your-fingertips Italian food, the joys of reading with family, and the importance of a close-knit community.

But more about the book in a minute.

First, a few party accoutrements. πŸ™‚

Please put on this spiffy pizza hat:

and these oven-warmed pizza socks:

Now, if you’re not into socks and like to walk on the wild side, slip your footsies into these spaghetti stilettos (bite me!):

Finally, to keep things neat, Mr. Cornelius would like you to wear this wee bib:

Please keep yourself thusly attired for the duration of this post. If you like, nosh on mini pizza while you’re reading. πŸ™‚

via Favorite Recipes

Lookin’ good, bambini! Party on!

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A Very Good Book

There’s nothing young Jake loves more than to pop over after school to his Uncle Rocco’s Italian Restaurant to read stories together, chow down on delicious food, and play crazy food games like spaghetti pick-up-sticks, bowling with mozzarella balls, and juggling ravioli.

But one day Uncle Rocco tells Jake they may not be able to read together anymore. The business next door has moved, and if a new tenant isn’t found soon, Rocco will have to close his restaurant.

Jake volunteers to help Uncle Rocco find a new neighbor for his “crazy, mixed-up restaurant.” He stops in at the bank, post office, and gas station, hoping one of the owners would be willing to relocate.

But though Ms. Cash, Mr. Stamply, and Mr. Pumper all love eating and playing at Rocco’s (“his spaghetti is still the greatest!”), they’re afraid the craziness might interfere with business as usual (“rows of pizzas baking in the bank vault,” “pepperoncini on envelopes instead of stamps,” “gas pumps would pump tomato sauce instead of gas”).

Jake thinks it’s hopeless until he spies a new bookstore. Can he convince fun-loving Mrs. Page to move her store to the middle of town, right next to Uncle Rocco’s?

Hungry readers will likely crave their favorite Italian dishes after seeing David Harrington’s bold and vivid illustrations of pizza faces, drippy tomato sauce, airborne ravioli and slurpy spaghetti. The cartoony caricatures of the townspeople with their flabbergasted expressions ramp up the humor and will elicit gastronomically induced giggles with every page turn (I wonder where Mrs. Page gets her hair done). πŸ˜€

Kids will wish they had an uncle like Rocco, who loves food, playing and reading stories just as much as they do. And it would be fun to live in Jake’s neighborhood, where people are approachable and friendly, and whenever you like, you can bowl with mozzarella balls or anticipate piles of pasta on bookstore shelves. Don’t miss this tasty read. Fantastico!


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Margo Sorensen especially enjoyed writing Spaghetti Smiles, not only because she’s a big fan of Italian food, but because she lived in Southern Italy between the ages of 3 and 7.

In addition to a favorite family recipe, she also sent along some interesting personal photos. I especially like the pic of Margo holding a book she received for her 6th birthday. Do you think she dreamed of becoming an award winning writer and educator back then? πŸ™‚

Margo (age 5) driving a little car in the port of Bari
Schoolroom in Rome, Italy (2004)
Margo’s favorite plate from Positano
Margo’s cooktop with the Bialetti “Little Man” Moka Espresso
Margo (age 6) holding her birthday book.
Margo’s favorite villa view in Tuscany (2004)
Italian farmers market in Alba.


Cheese lovers, rejoice! Wouldn’t a plate of Margo’s pasta with Fontina, Asiago, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano taste good right about now? Buon Appetito!


(serves 3 or 4)

  • 3/4 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated plus more for adding at end
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (or 1/2 cup Ricotta Salata, grated)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream plus more if needed for creamy consistency
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Pennette 8 ounces
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Pour heavy cream into a large pan over medium heat. Add butter. Add cheeses and simmer until they are melted, about five minutes. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Sprinkle some coarse salt when it boils and add pasta to boiling water. Cook for 10-12 minutes or till al dente. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to pan and mix well. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with parsley and black pepper. Sprinkle freshly-grated Parmigiano on top.

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Now, please join me in congratulating Margo and David on their deliciously playful book. Feel free to slurp loudly in your best Italian accents, or if you like, dive directly into the bowl for a few backstrokes. Keep your bibs about you, but mind you don’t eat your spaghetti stilettos.

Today’s Special: Felice Pastina Alfabeto (liberally seasoned with love, joy and laughter)

Did you think I’d forget dessert? Spaghetti and Meatballs Cupcakes for everyone!

via Sweet Little Thang

After you’re thoroughly sugared up, sashay on down to your local indie or click through to your fave online bookseller to score your very own copy of Spaghetti Smiles.

If you go to a bricks-and-mortar store, I think it best to wear something red, white and green, and if it’s warm where you live, a top with spaghetti straps would be totally de rigueur. Do I even have to tell you to wear a bushy mustache like Uncle Rocco’s?

Singing a few bars of “O Sole Mio” in the checkout line or talking the book up to other customers while wildly waving your hands is good too. If you’re hoping for a discount, mention the secret password “Ravishing Ravioli” to the cashier. πŸ™‚


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written by Margo Sorenson
illustrated by David Harrington
published by Pelican Publishing Company, 2014
Picture Book for ages 5-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: cooking, food, restaurants, relatives, books and reading, learning, humor, town life.

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β™₯ Margo Sorenson’s Official Website

β™₯ David Harrington’s Official Website

β™₯ More Soup of the Day posts here.

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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. Trot over in your spaghetti stilettos and join the fun. πŸ™‚




* From Spaghetti Smiles by Margo Sorenson, illustrated by David Harrington, text Β© 2014 Margo Sorenson, images Β© 2014 David Harrington, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

**Giovanni Baby Bib “Mangia” via Italian Children’s Market

**Pizza Socks via Foot Traffic

**Pizza Hat via Costumes of Nashua

**Spaghetti Shoe Sculpture by Robert Tabor (Sole Sensations)


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

57 thoughts on “soup of the day: spaghetti smiles by margo sorenson and david harrington (+ a pasta recipe)!

  1. Spaghetti Smiles looks like a delicious, joyous book! I can imagine kids wanting to read it over and over. Little Margo has a great smile.
    What is on the top of those cupcakes? I’m wondering about the meatballs specifically. Also, tomato bowling is genius! Especially with those breadsticks.


    1. It’s definitely a fun, delicious and joyous book :).

      If you click the spaghetti and meatballs image, it’ll take you to the recipe. The “meatballs” are actually hazelnut chocolates covered with strawberry preserves, and the “mozzarella” is actually grated white chocolate.


  2. Such a fun book and post, Jama! The spaghetti stilettos are outrageous and must be worn before the dessert shoes from yesterday’s post! I’m going to check out this title ASAP! Bravo to Cornelius for his mad bowling skills, too. =)


    1. Yes, you’re right — spaghetti stilettos before the cake ones. One could conceivably have an entire bakery shoes meal. I know that french bread slippers exist. Now all we need are salad shoes. πŸ™‚


  3. Jama, grazie mille for posting such a meraviglioso review! I loved your creativity and whimsicality — as always! Reading your blog is such a treat; being subscribed means I always have something memorable and meaningful to read. I’m honored to be back here with you. Aloha!


  4. Ha!!! Loved this post. And really want those socks. The shoes?? Not so much, but what a hoot. What a fun, fun book!!! And that pasta looks amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed this post so much!! The book looks adorable as do the socks and especially the stilettos. Liked the photos of Margo too!


    1. It’s so much fun to read everyone’s comments on Jama’s post; she is truly an artist in both words and pictures, isn’t she? Grazie mille for your very nice comment on the kidlet pics, Vicki! *blush* An older friend from that era just emailed me the little car picture was taken in front of the Albergo di Nazionale in Bari. I didn’t know that, being only five and having forgotten!


  6. I am thrilled with the email I just received! Not only is Margo a talented writer but a lovely lady so looking forward to buying several of her new book I too love pasta!!!


  7. Dear Margo, thank you for thinking of me and sending me this post. I love the idea of mixing reading and food. As a Board member, I will be involved in a reading program this Friday with the Health Clinic. The clinic tries to provide age appropriate reading material for all children seen at the end of their exam. Again, thanks for thinking of me. Keep up the good work!! Lydia Buckley


  8. Jama,

    I left a comment on the wrong page, so I am writing this again to let you know how very creative you are and what a wonderful job you did to help show of Margo’s Spaghetti Smiles. Love the pictures. Great post! So much fun! I will mention you next week on my blog. I will be doing a post about the book and I think a book give-a-way.



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