Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Welcome to the Big Top!
In the center ring, behold the rotund Circus Chef as he pulls off the most amazing feat of all: feeding all the circus performers!
IN THE CIRCUS KITCHEN
I’ve never turned a cartwheel, and I’m dizzy in high places.
I couldn’t ever be a clown — I don’t make funny faces.
But put me in the kitchen, and I think you’ll be delighted.
Join us for a circus meal. Everyone’s invited.
I handle special orders and unusual suggestions.
And if you have an allergy, just come to me with questions.
Put me in the kitchen, where the coffee’s percolating.
I’ll mash and melt with pleasure. I can’t keep the circus waiting!
My days are long and sweaty, and the chaos never ends.
But still, I find I’m most content when cooking for my friends.
Don’t you love him already? For each picky palate, for each quirky personality, this chef aims to please.
For the Ringmaster who’s always on the go, a picnic of salami and mini baguette stashed in his top hat. For the homesick Ukrainian Strongman, babushka’s vushka recipe. And if you must feed a Juggler who likes to juggle (rather than eat) anything that’s round? A square meal, of course!
Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef (Carolrhoda, 2015) is Kate Hosford’s debut poetry collection, and I’m pleased to report it’s got my name written all over it. Whimsically illustrated by Cosei Kawa, the 18 fun, spritely and decidedly delectable poems provide a delightful glimpse of this chef’s unique perspective.
A tireless worker in his towering toque and cookie-studded jacket, he must provide the fuel to keep this bouncing, flying, tumbling, jumping, dancing, balancing, somersaulting entourage in tippy-top form. He must be attentive, keep his sense of humor, make allowances, and like the best of chefs, be fully attuned to their every need.
How does he satisfy the very polite and genteel Clown who throws food at him? Or the high-strung Tightrope Walker who requires a carefully balanced whole foods diet? What to do about a Human Cannonball who eats so many carbs he outgrows his cannon? What about the chili sauce obsessed Fire Eater, or the Flying Fanellis, who must have their daily quota of 🍋 lemon cakes 🍋 to soar on their trapezes and avoid a sugar crash?
And guess what? There’s a SOUP-loving dog! Don’t you think Kate wrote “Little Blue” just for me?
Little Blue jumps through his hoop
If I agree to cook him soup.
Chicken noodle, clam chowder,
Awful soup that’s made from powder.
Cajun gumbo, callaloo.
It’s really all the same to Blue.
But if he doesn’t get his soup,
His perky ears will start to droop.
He’ll trot across the circus ring,
Refusing to do anything.
His frantic trainer begs and pleads,
But Blue is clear about his needs.
He puts his nose up in the air.
He plants his feet. He doesn’t care.
Even if the crowd is bored.
Or if his trainer feels ignored.
So in the end it’s up to me
To cook his soup efficiently.
We serve the soup — he laps it up,
And soon he is a joyful pup.
Now he’ll do a trick or two.
We’ve been well trained by Little Blue.
Oh, I do love this circus chef! A lesser kitchen whiz would have crumbled under this kind of pressure. With a whisk and a stir, and a bake and a boil, the sauciest of smiles and the industry of an army, he proves his mettle and seems to be having a ball.
Most of the poems are written in rhyming couplets, a good form for delivering lively, quick-fire narratives that are fun to read aloud. Kate’s adept wordplay mirrors the agility and showmanship of the performers.
Kawa’s inventive, dreamy illustrations have a naive sophistication about them, and are chock full of interesting details to keep young eyes busy and fascinated. He has a penchant for the minute and surreal, from walking vegetables and mini tightrope walkers to tiny jesters, balloon artists and bunny-toting rickshaws.
And the food! Quite a gourmand’s fantasy come true with flying cakes, puddings, and turnips, platters and dishes of familiar favorites like burgers, pizza and fries, and the more exotic ostrich, warthog, and pygmy toad. Who would eat these things? Our chef even knows how to feed a gourmet lion:
The lion is a true gourmet
Who thinks about his food all day.
He smiles, flashing his incisors,
Just before the appetizers.
First comes antelope pâté,
Followed by a consommé.
HIs entrée is a wild boar.
He wolfs it down and roars for more.
He eats grilled warthog with his claws.
He tears through python with his jaws.
Now he’s hunting for dessert.
He’s started nibbling on my shirt!
I give him ostrich à la mode,
Topped with candied pygmy toad.
He licks his lips and starts to roar.
I hide behind the kitchen door.
“Would you like your cheese plate now?”
But all the lion does is growl.
The food is gone, but he’s still here.
He’s ravenous — that much is clear.
This beast will make me cook all night
To satisfy his appetite!
Satisfy a ravenous lion even if you have to hide behind a door? No order is too tall to fill! 🙂
Feeding the Flying Fanellis oozes kid appeal with its unusual, charming premise, and is sure to please the palates of a wide variety of wild and wooly readers and eaters. When asked in this wonderful Publishers Weekly interview whether she ever wanted to join the circus, Kate said she would have liked to join when she was a girl, probably as an acrobat, given her interest in gymnastics and dance.
Have you ever wanted to join the circus, and if so, as what? After reading this book, I can see that the job of circus chef would be very challenging and a lot of hard work. I think I’d be better at training the dancing bears. Grab a ringside seat so you don’t miss this highly entertaining feast of “circus feats and culinary treats”! 🙂
Did you think I could read this book and not crave lemon cake? Here’s some just for you (oh, the sacrifices I make on your behalf!):
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FEEDING THE FLYING FANELLIS: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef
written by Kate Hosford
illustrated by Cosei Kawa
published by Carolrhoda Books, October 2015
Poetry Picture Book for ages 6-9, 32 pp.
Cool themes: circus, chefs, food, poetry
Check out this cool video featuring some of the performers from the youth-based Circus Smirkus, which Kate has been a fan of for decades. This past summer they did a culinary themed tour.
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🎩 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 🍕
For a chance to win a brand new copy of this book, please leave a comment at this post telling us what you’d want to be if you joined the circus, no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, October 21, 2015. You may also enter by sending an email with “CIRCUS” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced next Friday. Good Luck!
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There’s still time to enter the EAT YOUR U.S. HISTORY HOMEWORK GIVEAWAY, too! Click here for all the details and to read a fun interview with Ann McCallum and Leeza Hernandez!
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🍗 THE SHARING THE BREAD BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNER 🍞
IRENE LATHAM AT LIVE YOUR POEM!
Please send your snail mail address so we can get your book out to you right away.
Big thanks to everyone for entering. Loved hearing about your big love for sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce!
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The lovely and talented Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the Roundup at The Poem Farm. Do a few somersaults, juggle three lemons, and trapeze over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodies on today’s menu.
This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your toques, bibs, and aprons and come join the deliciousness!
*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2015 Kate Hosford, illustrations © 2015 Cosei Kawa, published by Carolrhoda Books/Lerner, 2015. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan and Cornelius Fanelli Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.