nine cool things on a tuesday

1. It’s Spring and time to revel in bright colors, animal friends, and the beauty of the natural world. Why not treat yourself or a friend to a charming archival giclée print by author/illustrator Elisa Kleven?

You can choose from a lovely selection of illustrations from some of her wonderful picture books. Do you recognize the above image from the cover of  Sun Bread? One of my fave foodie books! Wouldn’t it be a perfect print to hang in a nursery? I feel happy every time I look at it. 🙂

Bird and Sunrise




Spider Monkey and Mama

All prints are produced on 100% cotton acid free paper and Elisa will sign and inscribe them for you. These come in various sizes and are available via her website. Check out all the choices and add some gorgeousness to your life! In case you missed it, click here for my interview with Elisa about her newest picture book, The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy.


2. New book alert! Author and literary agent Holly M. McGhee just published her first middle grade novel, Matylda, Bright &Tender (Candlewick, 2017). You probably know that Holly is not a new author; she’s published several picture books and a chapter book series under her pen name, Hallie Durand. I’m a big fan of her delightfully delicious trilogy about Dessert Schneider (I interviewed Hallie about it back in 2011), and I had a lot of fun reviewing her most recent picture book, Catch That Cookie (2014), illustrated by David Small.

So now I’m excited about reading her first novel, which is based on an event from her childhood.

Sussy and Guy are best friends, fourth-graders who share their silliest thoughts and deepest hopes. One afternoon, the two of them decide they must have something of their very own to love. After a trip to the pet store, they bring home a spotted lizard, the one with the ancient face and starfish toes, and they name her Matylda (with a y so it’s all her own). With Guy leading the way, they feed her and give her an origin story fit for a warrior lizard. A few weeks later, on a simple bike ride, there is a terrible accident. As hard as it is, Sussy is sure she can hold on to Guy if she can find a way to love Matylda enough. But in a startling turn of events, Sussy reconsiders what it means to grieve and heal and hope and go on, for her own sake and Matylda’s. By turns both devastating and buoyant, this story is a brave one, showing how far we can justify going for a real and true friend.

Sounds like a very touching read. Be sure to look for this one!


3. Have you seen this cool new poster by Rachel Ignotofsky? Female Activists Throughout History!! Look at the quotes from Malala, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and others. 🙂

These women have fought, organized and protested the inequality they saw around them. This poster celebrates how they helped to create a better future. I hope this illustration inspires you to use your own unique voice to resist and fight injustice.

If her style looks familiar, it’s because she’s the author/illustrator who created the NY Times bestseller Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World (Ten Speed Press, 2016).

The 18″ x 20″  poster is printed with Epson archival pigment inks, and best of all, 50% of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the ACLU in your name!! Outstanding inspiration. Get yours at Rachel’s Etsy Shop.


4. Need a little cookie boost? Check out The United States of Cookies” at Bob’s Red Mill — 50 cookie recipes from 50 bloggers who are from every state in the union. It’s especially fun to see what kind of cookie represents your home state and/or the state you’re currently living in. From Hawai’i, Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies Dipped in White Chocolate, and from Virginia, Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies. I do love my shortbread!

Apple Pie Stuffed Snickerdoodles (New York) from Miranda at Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt
Cranberry and Walnut Pennsylvania Sand Tart Cookies from Liz at The Pretty Life Girls

Of course, since any time is cookie time, and a good cookie is a good cookie no matter what, I’m in favor of sampling all 50 recipes. I’m an equal opportunity cookie eater, how about you? 🙂


5. On a personal note, a little bit about how an old wedding photo of my paternal grandparents ended up in a high school textbook. Several years ago, I was contacted by the University of Hawai’i Curriculum and Research Development Group (CRDG). They had seen my grandparents’ wedding photo here at Alphabet Soup, in a post I had written about my grandmother being a picture bride from Korea. Could I grant them permission to include it in a new edition of The History of Hawai’i, a textbook used in public schools throughout the state?

Third Edition launched in Fall 2016

The image I posted was actually a scan of a photocopy (my uncle owns the original photo). So, they called my uncle who granted permission, and now Pyung Sup and Maria Ahn Kim appear on page 249!

As I mentioned in my post, my grandfather emigrated from Korea in 1904 to work on the sugar plantations on O’ahu. These days, when there is so much talk about immigration, I have only to think of Hawai’i’s awesome diversity. Physically, it may be a small state, but its symbolic importance cannot be overstated: it’s the only state in America where immigrants from so many different countries had to learn how to live together in such a geographically remote, circumscribed space. The inevitable borrowing and blending of cultures and social interchanges helped Hawai’i forge a unique identity — a beautiful example of the concept “stronger together,” and a notable microcosm of the country at large.


6. Speaking of treating yourself to a little beauty this Spring, have you seen Susan Branch’s charming bone china mugs? LOVE them!

She’s designed three different ones, “The Little Things,”

All mugs are printed on front and back. So cute!


and, “In Love with Nature.”

All will hold a generous 16 ounces of your favorite coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. They’re dishwasher and microwave safe, and are being manufactured in the Staffordshire potteries in England. New designs will be brought out, old ones retired, making these small-run treasures highly collectible.

These mugs can now be pre-ordered via Susan’s website shop, and will only be available for purchase there. Estimated delivery is sometime right before Mother’s Day. What are you waiting for?


7. Hmmm, next time you pick up an apple, banana, or carrot, instead of merely peeling it, why not carve it into a work of art? Japanese artist Gaku seems to enjoy doing just that.

Fruit and vegetable carving is nothing new in Japan — the traditional art of mukimono dates back to the 16th century, and is now part of every Japanese chef’s training — to create beautiful garnishes to enhance the presentation of food. If you frequent high end Japanese restaurants, you know that emphasis is placed on appearance (I personally think it makes everything taste better). 🙂

Gaku seems to be taking mukimono to new heights with his elaborate and intricate designs inspired by traditional Japanese motifs, which he creates using an x-acto-knife-like tool. He works against the clock because of the discoloring effects of oxidation. So he must carve each piece in just a few minutes. Check out more of his creations in this video and at his Instagram account.


8. Coming Soon! A new picture book by Julie Paschkis! Magic Spell (Simon & Schuster, 2017) will be released on April 4.

Award-winning author and illustrator Julie Paschkis casts a spell to transform word play into an entertaining and hilarious picture book that’s perfect for reading aloud.

With his trusty assistant, Zaza, by his side, magician the Great Aziz can turn
a dish into a fish,
a rose into a hose,
and a wire into a fire.
But when Aziz turns Zaza’s
wig into a pig—
well, he’s gone too far!

This beautifully illustrated picture book by critically acclaimed author and illustrator Julie Paschkis will have readers laughing out loud at this very silly story, all while learning very basic lessons about word play.

I’ve just seen an ARC of this one, and it’s very clever and funny. Who can resist the dynamic theatrics of the Great Aziz (who’s a whizz!) and his dazzling assistant Zaza? Presto! Abracadabra! Shazam! Get a front row seat for this inventive magic show if you enjoy wild and wonderful wordplay and a really good time. 🙂


9. Okay, where have I been? I thought I had the 411 on all the teddy bears out there doing interesting things. Even Mr. Cornelius, who claims to be on the cutting edge of all things teddy, didn’t know about Misery Bear.

I just happened upon a few stills of this poor fellow on Pinterest recently, at first thinking that a fellow enlightened human was having fun taking pictures of his/her furry friend. Well. It seems Misery Bear is the subject of (so far) 14 short films produced by Roughcut TV and published on the BBC website. He even has his own book!

In short, he’s the saddest, loneliest, and sometimes drunkest bear on the planet. Everything seems to go wrong for him at work, on dates, wherever he goes, whatever he does. Yet — there’s something very lovable about him that makes him irresistible. I guess misery does indeed love company, and when you see some of the things that have happened to him you feel better about your own life. Good old chap, he’s also made some charity videos. See if he doesn’t make you laugh:

Of course now we want our own Misery Bear. Check out more of the MB films here.


Okay, Cutie Pies. Have a good Tuesday, a good week, and


Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


20 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. I love Sun Bread! Such good and happy memories from my little kids..thank you for the hug this morning. And, I must share the United States of Cookies! You have the most interesting and delicious posts. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Sun Bread is a classic! I thought it was fun to see the cookies from all the different states. I just knew macadamia nuts would be included in the Hawai’i cookie. What was your state cookie?


  2. Such cheery, spring-y stuff! Thank you for brightening things on this dreary March day, Jama :).


  3. They are all “cool” things, Jama, but the best thing is about your grandparents making their way into print for so many to read about. That is special! Of course, you always have other wonderful sharing, like Elisa Kleven’s work (love Sun Bread) & Julie Paschkis’ new book. I didn’t know. And, I’m on Matylda’s blog tour for Holly McGhee, posting tomorrow! It’s a wonderful book! Thanks for being “cool” this Tuesday!


  4. Oooh, Elisa artwork and great big mugs! The perfect pairing!

    I’m … wow. I had no idea about the Misery Bear, either. Poor thing!


  5. I enjoyed the whole post and appreciate being included in your round up. I must say – that broccoli is amazing!


  6. That’s so neat that your family photo is now in a school history book about Hawaii!

    The food carving is amazing, although I admit I boggle at the people who have THAT much free time to spare.

    I’m definitely taking a look at the 50 states of cookies!


    1. Apparently the carver has to work really fast, so it doesn’t take that much time to complete each piece. 🙂 And yes, I like having my grandparents in a history textbook!


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