nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Oh, how I love UK illustrator and screen print maker Alice Pattullo! Based in East London, she’s a Brighton University graduate and is inspired by British folk tradition, superstition, and mid-century design, while striving to create a nostalgic aesthetic in her own work through colour choices and composition.

She collects folklore, junk and “all sorts of ephemera from the dusty history books of the British isles.” I love how she’s simultaneously preserving parts of authentic heritage while breathing new life into it.

Of course I especially enjoy her foodie pieces — it’s like reading pages from old cookbooks or discovering vintage posters or advertisements.

She’s done a lot of commercial work for clients such as Country Living, Bon Appetit, V&A, Sainsburys, Urban Outfitters, and Crabtree and Evelyn. She’s also self-illustrated several titles, such as this Animals ABC book,

in addition to illustrating books written by others, the newest of which, The Butterfly House by Katy Flint, is due out April 2, 2019:

You can purchase Alice’s screen prints directly through her website or via several online galleries. It’s so much fun to browse all her designs!


2. New Book Alert!! Get ready to slurp some MAGIC RAMEN: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang and Kana Urbanowicz (little bee books, 2019)!! Just released March 5, this one promises to be a delectable read, especially if you like instant noodles and ever wondered who invented it:

Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods.

You may remember we featured Andrea’s other picture book, The Nian Monster, a couple of years ago (yum, sticky rice cake!). We look forward to gorging on eating in the name of research some instant ramen so we can best be prepared to review Magic Ramen. Nothing more fun than noodling around . . . Stay tuned!



3. HOT HOT HOT . . . and spicy! In the mood to tantalize your taste buds while channeling a little nostalgia?

Check out Golden Girls Hot Sauces!

If you’ve watched the award-winning TV sitcom, you know Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia spend a lot of time in the kitchen — not so much cooking, per say, but cooking up fun adventures while commiserating about the ups and downs of living in Miami during their golden years.

The thing about them is they never really “grew old,” and continued to spice up their lives in unimaginable ways. They would probably be tickled pink to see there’s a new 4-pack set of hot sauces named after them. Bea Spicy and Desert Rose are jalapeño hot sauces, while Sicilian Fire and Hot Slut are habanero.

Supposedly Sicilian Fire and Hot Slut (named after Blanche, natch) are for those who like to emulate fire breathing dragons, while those who prefer a little less heat might prefer Bea Spicy and Desert Rose.

Made and bottled in Arizona, the set makes a fun gift for any Golden Girls fan. Thank you for being my hot and spicy friend!

Wonder how this stuff would taste on cheesecake? Let’s swig it! Get it here.


4. Heads up Moomin fans! Have you seen the new Moomin line of women’s t-shirts over at Uniqlo?

With warmer weather coming soon, it’s time to score some fun threads. Summer has come to Moominvalley via textile designer Masaru Suzuki.

You can proudly wear your Moomintroll(s) in an all-over print or single center-of-shirt or hem design. Cool way to channel Tove Jansson’s classic books. Want!


5. Adorable, cuddly, furry, feel-good book alert! Have you seen the recently released Borrowing Bunnies: A Surprising True Tale of Fostering Rabbits by Cynthia Lord, John Bald, and Hazel Mitchell (FSG BFYR, 2019)?

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord likes fostering rabbits―or, as she fondly calls it, “borrowing bunnies.” This is the heartwarming true story of the author’s own journey with two very special rabbits.

In the spring of 2016, Peggotty and Benjamin were saved by Maine’s Cottontail Cottage Rabbit Rescue after their previous owners had neglected them. But before the two Netherland Dwarf rabbits could be adopted, Cynthia had to help them learn to trust people and feel safe inside a home. The bunnies slowly settled in, enjoying their clean pens, nibbling new foods, and playing with fun toys, while Cindy’s husband, John Bald, photographed Benjamin and Peggotty’s every step toward adoption. At that time, hundreds of viewers were drawn to Cindy’s Facebook page to watch their progress. Now, she has adapted the rabbits’ true story into a picture book that explores love, responsibility, empathy, and letting go―along with fostering’s many surprises, both big and small.

Young readers will delight in watching these bunnies thrive while also learning a few fun animal facts. With Cindy’s pitch-perfect blend of warmth and real-life experience, Borrowing Bunnies is a new classic in narrative nonfiction.

First, how can anyone resist that adorable bunny on the cover!?

Second, I’m a longtime fan of Cindy’s picture books and middle grade novels, and have been following her rabbit fostering adventures on Facebook for years. So happy that she decided to publish a picture book about her experiences with Benjamin and Peggotty! I’ve also admired her husband John Bald’s photography since she shared his work on LiveJournal in the days of yore, as well as Hazel Mitchell’s wonderful picture books (we featured One Word Pearl here). Hazel’s illustrations add just the right touch of whimsy and fun.

Finally, animal-loving kids and grown-ups will enjoy learning from this book, especially since it’s based on a remarkable true story. It may even inspire them to seek out animal fostering opportunities in their own communities.


But don’t hop away just yet, because today is official release day for Cindy’s latest middle grade novel, Because of the Rabbit (Scholastic Press, 2019)!!

On the last night of summer, Emma tags along with her game warden father on a routine call. They’re supposed to rescue a wild rabbit from a picket fence, but instead they find a little bunny. Emma convinces her father to bring him home for the night.

The next day, Emma starts public school for the very first time after years of being homeschooled. More than anything, Emma wants to make a best friend in school.

But things don’t go as planned. On the first day of school, she’s paired with a boy named Jack for a project. He can’t stay on topic, he speaks out of turn, and he’s obsessed with animals. Jack doesn’t fit in, and Emma’s worried he’ll make her stand out.

Emma and Jack bond over her rescue rabbit. But will their new friendship keep Emma from finding the new best friend she’s meant to have?

Newbery Honor-winning author Cynthia Lord has written a beautiful and sensitive book about being different and staying true to yourself.

Because of the Rabbit has already earned **starred reviews** from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Can’t wait to read it!  If you’re familiar with Cindy’s books, you know she never disappoints. Such a good writer!

Both bunny books make perfect Happy Spring/Happy Easter gifts, too. 🙂

Happy Book Birthday, Cindy!!


6. Paddington Paddington Paddington!! The 70-something resident Paddingtons are thrilled about the new Paddington Nickelodeon TV series coming out in 2020.

Aimed at preschoolers, it is being produced by Heyday Films and Studiocanal, same folks who brought us the two brilliant Paddington movies. Ben Whishaw, who voiced Paddington in the films, will return for this new small screen venture.

The series will be fully animated in 3D, and will feature a younger Paddington, with each episode framed with letters written to Aunt Lucy, telling her about what he’s learned on his daily adventures.

Only problem is 2020 seems like such a long time to wait, especially since we don’t yet know if there’ll be a Paddington 3 movie. Solution: consume as many marmalade sandwiches as possible in the interim, and don’t forget to tip your hat.


7. Heads up home decorators and people who like to sew: Did you know you can purchase wallpaper, fabric, and gift wrap featuring the endpaper art from several of Paul O. Zelinsky’s picture books?

I have been blown away by Mr. Zelinsky’s genius for decades. Among awards and honors too numerous to mention, he received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for three of his books: Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumpelstiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995). He was given the Carle Honor Award for Illustration in 2018.

I had seen photos of Paul wearing a cool shirt made from his Z is for Moose fabric, but didn’t realize until recently that you could actually purchase that fabric in addition to others. Think of the possibilities besides clothing: throw pillows, curtains, book bags, etc.!

And if you’re planning to wallpaper a kid’s room or kitchen, what could be better than to be surrounded by award-winning children’s book art?

I was happy to see that the most recent designs come from his latest book, All-of-a-Kind-Family Hanukkah, written by Emily Jenkins (2018). This picture book just won the 2019 Sydney Taylor Award for Young Readers (we featured it here, complete with latkes recipe).

The little potatoes, cooking utensils and frying pans full of latkes are just too cute. Now if I only had a sewing machine . . . I can spring for the gift wrap, though. See all available products at Paul’s Spoonflower shop.


8. Must sing the praises of this really lovely new anthology that came out last fall: FAMILY CELEBRATIONS: Poems, Toasts, and Traditions for Every Occasion by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling (Andrews McMeel, 2018).

This wonderful collection of over 240 pieces honors and celebrates families with beautiful words of wisdom, inspiration, encouragement and insight.

Need a poem to toast the newlyweds, or mark a landmark birthday or anniversary? Would you like to make mealtimes more special with a unique blessing, or read about other people’s favorite family traditions? I guarantee you’ll want to adopt many of them. This book covers most of the important life events you’ll share with your loved ones, including verses for all the major holidays.


You’ll find short quotes, prayers, or poems by classic writers such as Shakespeare, Socrates, Rumi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Dickens, as well as by contemporary writers like Maya Angelou, Barbara Crooker, Bob Dylan (!), and Charles Ghigna. It was so nice to come across the names of dear online friends as I browsed through the book, and I was curious to learn more about some of the new writers I “met” through their warm, uplifting words.

Here’s one of my favorite poems from the Anniversaries section:


by Charles Ghigna

If the moon rose in the morning
And the sun came out at night,

If the birds swam in the ocean
And each fish became a kite,

If the trees grew upside down
And their roots soared toward the sky,

If the mountains turned to valleys
And the rivers all ran dry,

If our hearts could hear the future
And our eyes could hold the past,

I would love you still forever,
My first love — and my last.



And here’s a sample family tradition from the many interspersed throughout:


by Barbara Younger

Ask guests to announce the job they’d like to have if they could have any job in the world. Barbara, who can’t sing a note, would love to be a Broadway star. Seth wants to give up his career as an engineer and paint huge murals on city buildings. Tamika, who is a bank teller, dreams of creating fanciful wedding cakes. Get to know one another better as you learn the secrets of the heart!


Lots of great ideas in this book! Always good to find new ways to strengthen our bonds with family and friends.

What I like most is that all the pieces are short, accessible, suitable for reading aloud, appropriate for all kinds of families and not restricted to any one faith. And, it’s a small book — a 5″ x 6″ trim size — very handy to have around or carry with. It packs a lot into 216 pages and is the perfect gift book that recipients will turn to again and again.

You may remember that a few years ago I interviewed Nancy Tupper Ling about her picture book Double Happiness (illustrated by Alina Chau). Her most recent picture book is The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful (illustrated by Andrea Offermann (2018).  Wonderful, empowering read!!

In Family Celebrations, Nancy shares two family traditions and a Halloween poem. Love her International Thanksgiving Dinner! Enjoyed seeing her put on her editor’s hat again with June Cotner (they previously collaborated on Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion (2014)).

Don’t miss this gem!


9. Every once in awhile, I like to check up on past Indie Artist Spotlight guests just to see what they’ve been up to. Do you remember when Debbie Ritter of Uneek Doll Designs dropped by in 2013? Yes, that was awhile ago, but she’s been going strong ever since with her amazing clothespin dolls. Back then, she had over 600 doll listings — lots of literary figures as well as famous people of all stripes from music to movies to artists.

I noted that in addition to individual dolls, she’s been creating more dioramas. Here are some pieces that caught my eye this time around:


Lucy Maud Montgomery


James Joyce




Harper Lee


Debbie is also now offering original paintings:



She hasn’t slowed down one bit! Visit all her goodies at her Etsy Shop. You’ll be amazed at just how many dolls she has for sale.



Finally, our BLUE SONG: Something a little different, an escape to fairy tale land, with a tune sung by Lily James in Disney’s “Cinderella” (2015). This version of “Lavender’s Blue (Dilly Dilly)” is based on the 17th century English folk song and nursery rhyme, and is the second time the song has been featured in a Disney film (first time sung by Burl Ives in “So Dear to My Heart,” 1949).

I love Lily James  (first saw her in “Downton Abbey”), and it’s nice to see brief glimpses in the video of Sophie McShera (love her as Daisy in DA), Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. Of course Cinderella’s ball gown is BLUE. Of course. It’s a dream-come-true color, is it not? Enjoy.











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**Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

20 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Smiling big, Jama! I could list each and every one! I especially love that first grouping from Alice Pattullo, keeping some old traditions in her lamplight like that about the apron strings! And the books by Cynthia Lord, plus I know about the ramen book, haven’t gotten to it yet. And this Family Celebrations book looks so sweet. Charles Ghigna is terrific! Thanks for each part -a wonderful start to my Tuesdays!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Tuesday, Linda!! Glad you like Alice Pattullo too. The cake illo reminds me a little of Isabella Beeton’s cookbook. It was fun to page through Family Celebrations and come across familiar names. It’s the perfect gift book.


  2. MAGIC RAMEN is indeed a delectable and poignant tale! Andrea is my good friend & crit partner, so I was lucky to have seen this beauty evolve into the lovely book that it is! And Kana’s art is just perfect.

    I also loved Borrowing Bunnies–such a sweet story!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to hear, Maria — it’s so cool that kids will be able to learn all about who invented instant ramen. And as for Cindy’s books, I can’t resist bunnies (I was born in the Year of the Rabbit)!


  3. Yah! A new Cindy Lord middle grade novel! Adding it to my list. I’m so glad I clicked on your link today, Jama. And the picture book with photos by her husband sounds fab, too.

    Thanks, and happy Spring, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your posts just REFRESH, Jama. Lovely. And I’m reallllly regretting how long it’s taking me to learn to sew. Mr. Z’s fabric is AMAZING! And I know several people who need a Moomin tee! Thanks for sharing all the beauty and joy on this gray day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I learned to sew a long time ago but never bought my own sewing machine. It was fun but I never had the desire to continue. Happy Tuesday! It’s sunny here — hope some of it shines your way soon.


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