nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Recently I’ve been on a Becca Stadtlander kick, browsing her work online and catching up with the children’s books she’s illustrated so far.

You might know her from David Elliott’s On the Wing (Candlewick, 2014), Eugenie Doyle’s Sleep Tight Farm (Chronicle Books, 2016), or maybe even the two Classics Unfolded titles she’s done — The Secret Garden and Pride and Prejudice (these are 14-scene concertina fold-out books).

I particularly love her still life paintings. Her fine lines, delicate details and pleasing compositions lend a unique beauty to everyday objects.

And isn’t this butterfly painting gorgeous?

You can purchase prints at her Etsy Shop and greeting cards at Red Cap Cards. And do look for the books she’s illustrated if you’re not already familiar with them. Just lovely!


2. New Book Alert! Just released today is Don’t Ask a Dinosaur by Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Louie Chin (Pow! Kids Books, 2018):

Don’t Ask a Dinosaur is about a party that goes wildly awry when a pack of dinosaurs with very unique physical attributes attempt to help set up.

Written in a masterfully-executed rhyme, the book presents a cavalcade of lesser-known dinos and pairs their odd characteristics with little tasks that are hilariously impossible because of those features. “Don’t ask Deinocheirus to set the forks and spoons,” because his hands were enormous, “Therizinosaurus cannot blow up balloons,” because he had very long claws. In the end they find the one thing everyone can help do is to blow out the candles on the cake…but will it create yet another mess?

I’ve seen a sneak peak of this crackerjack picture book, and know kids will LOVE it! Great read aloud, vibrant, energetic illos and loads of fun for dinosaur fans of all ages. Yes, there are loads of dinosaur books already out there, but this one does introduce readers to some cool lesser known creatures, and the humor hits the mark for the target audience. Plus, there’s CAKE!! Read this wonderful interview with Deborah and Matt at Today’s Little Ditty, then check out the rest of the Official Dinosaur Blog Tour (book giveaway at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme today)!

Happy Pub Day to Deborah, Matt, and Louie!


3. When regular bingo feels a little too pedestrian, why not opt for a round of Royal Bingo, illustrated by Holly Exley (Laurence King Publishing, 2017)?

This majestically illustrated bingo game features portraits of 64 royal icons from around the world. Spot famous faces like William and Kate, or meet some less familiar figures such as the playboy prince Wenzeslaus of Liechtenstein.

Royal Bingo brings a fun twist to the traditional game, with all the European royal families represented, along with some more exotic courts such as Jordan, Brunei and Malaysia.

Each royal is further brought to life in the accompanying booklet, which details their personalities, foibles, gaffes and romances. Who will reign supreme?

I mean seriously — doesn’t this sound like a hoot? Educational and entertaining, in a blue blood kind of way, (yay, BLUE!). How many people know all the European royal families? Besides, when was the last time you and your family put aside your cell phones and played a non-electronic game together (yes, they still exist). 🙂


4. Another New Book Alert!!  Alphabet Boats by Samantha R. Vamos and Ryan O’Rourke (Charlesbridge, 2018) officially hits shelves today!! Hooray!

Set sail and learn the ABCs with a boat for each letter!

Discover twenty-six types of vessels, from the more common–canoe and motorboat–to the unusual–umiak and Q-boat. Just like in Alphabet Trucks and Alphabet Trains, colorful art includes the letters of the alphabet hidden (and not-so-hidden) in supporting roles in the illustrations. The text features familiar as well as unusual boats from around the world, packing in tons of instant kid appeal, and upper and lowercase letters are integrated into the action of the art rather than solely in the typography. Back matter includes age-appropriate facts about each featured boat.

You probably know I’m already a fan of this series, having previously featured both Alphabet Trucks and Alphabet Trains at this blog. I do have a decided weakness for alphabet books in general, but when they include snappy rhymes and clever illustrations with upper and lower case letter “characters” doing fun stuff, I simply cannot resist. So happy to see that Samantha and Ryan have teamed up again for this new picture book. Don’t miss it!

Happy Book Birthday, Sam and Ryan!


5. Okay, stop with the puppy dog eyes and lean hungry look. I haven’t forgotten your foodie fix. Are you ready for a chocolate Rubik’s Cube? Not just any chocolate Rubik’s Cube, but a fully functional one.

Tony Fisher is a British puzzle designer who holds the Guinness Record for creating the world’s largest Rubik’s Cube. Fisher began collecting rotational (or “twisty” as he calls them) puzzles back in the early 80’s. Then he began making his own. If you visit his YouTube channel, you’ll see he’s created not only the world’s largest, but also the world’s tiniest Rubik’s Cube — as well as cubes made of cheese and ice.

This short video shows basic steps for making his chocolate version, and you’ll also see him solving the puzzle (while munching on extra chocolate cubes). Smart man — I’m sure regular consumption of chocolate has enhanced his overall intelligence. 🙂


6. Mais, oui. Jacques Pépin! Love watching his cooking videos on PBS whenever I get the chance, and I’m also a big fan of his art. I did share several of the prints for sale at his webpage The Artistry of Jacques Pépin awhile ago; just wanted to share some of the new pieces today. He has both original paintings as well as limited-edition, signed prints available, and they come both framed and unframed.


“Le Pique-nique” (Gallery-Size Signed Artist’s Proof Lithograph, Limited Edition of 13 pieces)
“The Harried Chicken” (Limited Edition Signed Print)
“Blue Abstract #1” (one of a kind original painting)
Set of 6 giclée prints of Jacques’ hand-drawn and hand-lettered menus.
“Blue Tablecloth” (Limited Edition Signed Print)
“Urbanization 2” (one of a kind original painting)


Magnifique! A portion of the proceeds from sales goes to groups promoting culinary education and sustainability, including the Jacques Pepin Foundation.


7. Have you ever found yourself with the irresistible urge to go shopping after reading a Cool Things Roundup at this blog? If so, maybe this coin purse says it all for you:

No? How about this one, then?

Don’t even want to think about money?

Well then, you can’t go wrong with an adorable screen printed doggie dish towel:

Check out these items and more at Blue Q — a somewhat irreverent site whose motto is “We Only Want You to Be Happy.” (Be forewarned: some products do use the b, f, and s-words.)


8. Are you familiar with Sanae Sugimoto’s work? She was born in Tottori, Japan, and attended art college in Kyoto, where she now lives and works as an illustrator. Her most recent works are rendered in traditional Japanese black and orange inks.

She’s inspired by Western literature and music, and her pictures tell wondrous stories via fine, delicate, detailed pen work. So unique and distinctive!

See more at her website. Wish I could read Japanese!


9. Love to run across adorable needle-felted animals. Svetlana Toys has some real cuties available. These are handmade in the Ukraine by Svetlana Atamanskaya.

I would think the most challenging part of making these would be creating an appealing or endearing facial expression. A piece can be meticulously crafted, but if it doesn’t “come alive” with personality, it wouldn’t be as attractive to potential buyers.

Could you resist these faces?




Finally, it’s BLUE SONG time. How about this heart wrenching little number by Keith Urban? Good for indulging your angst, crying in your beer, and resisting the urge to turn on a ceiling fan.



Okey dokey






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** Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

24 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Love this blog! I love Blue Q as well! I got my Dick and Jane wallet and tote bag from them! Lastly, I love that Harried Chicken print! Don’t we all have those kind of days?! Happy Tuesday! Why not read a picture book today!


  2. Thank you so much for sharing the news about “Dinosaur,” Jama! I wish you were closer, so you could share some of our homemade dinosaur cake at tonight’s launch party – I posted a pic on FB. Also a thank you for sharing Ryan’s news about “Alphabet Boats” – he’s our neighbor, a couple of towns over from Deb & me, and he does some terrific work. (I don’t know if you follow him on FB, but last year he did a series of classic book covers, just as an exercise, and posted them all – you should check them out!)

    Well, gotta go…in addition to the book birthday celebration at my blog, I now need to go make a chocolate Rubik’s Cube! 😉


    1. I saw one or two of Ryan’s classic book covers, and enjoy following him on FB. He works on such interesting projects besides the book illustrations. Tabatha and I definitely want you to make a chocolate Rubik’s cube. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A delightful round-up as always. Love Becca’s butterfly painting, the doggie dish towel, and Sanae’s work. And congrats to the creators of the new books–they look terrific! ❤


  4. Favorites: Pepin’s “Harried Chicken”. His work is wonderful! As are those darling Svetlana Toys, oh they are inviting! I have Matt’s book on the way, know it will be fun. And the song was a lovely ending, Jama. Happy Tuesday to you!


    1. Pepin’s art makes me happy. I especially love his hand-lettered/illustrated menus. He’s been making these for all his dinner parties for years and years (and all the guests sign them). Someday they will be in a museum.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe that Matt could make a chocolate Rubik’s Cube, but I will just have to look at it in wonder! Wow! I haven’t listened to the song yet, but it is going through my head now just from seeing it mentioned 🙂 Love that tiger vase at the top of the post. Thanks for all the cool things!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another lovely series of paintings! And MY change purse there. I SEE YOU, JAMA-j.
    The Royal Bingo looks amusing (Although – Jordan, Malaysia and Brunei are “exotic?” As compared to what?) and the FELTING – wow. Those animals are extremely lifelike! I’m just trying to LEARN how to felt; I will feel happy if I can get a ladybug that looks reasonably cartoon-like!!!

    Some people have mad skills. Thanks for sharing these.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So COOL to be featured in “Nine Cool Things on A Tuesday” – love it! Thank you for the book birthday wishes for “Alphabet Boats.” I had a school presentation this morning and left our home early this morning. I just took a look at social media around noon and discovered Ryan and I are included! So wonderful! Another Book Birthday gift to us!
    I also love Becca Stadtlander’s work – and especially the illustration you featured with the woman applying lipstick. Her kimono or robe appears to blend in almost seamlessly with the background wallpaper – so beautifully done.
    I’m wondering if Royal Bingo includes Megan Markle. I love “Who will reign supreme?” Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

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