No doubt — this is a crazy, scary, sad, worrying time for everyone. Most of us are sheltering in place and trying our best to adjust to a new reality.
While we are not performing heroic deeds like all the frontline healthcare workers and first responders, grocery store employees and delivery drivers, we can all do our part by simply staying at home.
During tough times, I’m even more grateful for the artists, poets, writers, and musicians who make self-isolation more bearable by generously sharing their talents. What would we do without stories and poems to read, music and podcasts to listen to, movies to watch? Prime example of how healing the arts can be — a good reminder that all of us are in this together.
1. Uber-talented Vermont author/illustrator Ashley Wolff is featuring her border collie Rufus in a new series of “Stay Home, Save Lives” prints. She says this is her way of coping with the new reality and sharing solidarity. Pictured above is “We Are United States Strong.” Ashley also painted all 50 states and one territory.
Each signed, 11″ x 14″ print is made with archival inks on heavyweight 100% cotton watercolor paper. Visit her Etsy Shop or PM her on FB to order your state of choice (she will also personalize upon request).
2. You don’t have to be five years old to enjoy listening to a good story. Many children’s authors have recorded new videos of themselves reading their books. There are so many good ones (Jan Brett reading The Easter Egg, Barbara McClintock reading The Gingerbread Man)! For now, enjoy two favorite food-related picture books we’ve previously featured here at Alphabet Soup.
First, Kerry Madden-Lunsford reading Ernestine’s Milky Way (illustrated by Emily Sutton). Nice to be out in the fresh air with birds chirping in the background and lovable dachshund Olive listening attentively on the steps.
And what could be more comforting than a bowl of soup? Here’s Melissa Iwai reading Soup Day, followed by a quick cooking demo. You’ll want to try making your own. Yum!
♥️ For more more more, check out Kate Messner’s amazing list, “Read, Wonder and Learn!” This page features a passel of children’s authors and illustrators sharing learning resources (including first-chapter and picture book read alouds as well as reading and writing mini lessons). You can search these resources by grade level, or simply scroll down the page for oodles of cool videos. Perfect for kids, parents, and teachers. Check back often, as Kate updates this page every day.
Find stories on Instagram and Facebook including Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag, read by Glenn Close; It’s Hard to Be Five by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, read by Robin Wright; Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon-Pie Adventure by Tony DiTerlizzi, read by Kaitlyn Dever and her dog Banjo; The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak, read by Paul Scheer; If You Give A Dog A Donut by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond and read by Chris Evans; Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison and read by Gabrielle Union.
3. So, have you pre-ordered yours yet? Of course I’m talking about the Dr. Fauci Bobblehead!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown very attached to Dr. Fauci, and look forward to seeing him every day. In the midst of this terrible pandemic, he’s the one I trust for the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Even when the news isn’t especially good, I feel better hearing his gravel-y voice. No spin, no bragging, no false hope. I even joined the Dr. Anthony Fauci Fan Club! 🙂
Anyway, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is producing a 7″ Dr. Fauci Bobblehead (shipping in July 2020), with $5 from every sale to be donated to The American Hospital Association’s Protect the Heroes Campaign to support The 100 Million Masks Challenge.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has become America’s voice of reason as one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. This is the first bobblehead of Dr. Fauci, who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
Thus far, they’ve acquired over $100,000 in donations, with Dr. Fauci being the bestselling bobblehead of all time. More masks for healthcare workers! For more info and to order yours, click here.
4. Hooray! Let’s hear it for Paddington! Yes, he, too, is on board with helping to flatten the curve. Check out this fabulous sequence created by his illustrator R.W. Alley:
Smart bears know just what to do when it comes to social distancing. Follow Paddington’s example (except for, maybe, the sticky paws part). Please take care of your bears. Thank You.
5. Fancy a bit of classic poetry? Eminent actor, director, and producer Sir Patrick Stewart is reading a Shakespeare sonnet every day. You may know that before his stint as Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard, he was with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He’s had quite a storied career spanning six decades. With his sonorous voice and stage presence, he’s the quintessential Shakespearean thespian.
Enjoy his reading of Sonnet 12. This takes me right back to grad school, when I wrote a paper about Shakespeare’s Procreation Sonnets (1-17).
6. Ta da! Precisely what we need to keep us calm, focused and occupied: Coloring Pages! Julie Paschkis is sharing free downloadable coloring pages at her website.
What a lovely way to further appreciate her amazing art. She will post new ones each weekday, available as PDFs. If you’d like to receive a weekly email notification with a link to new pages, contact her at juliepaschkis (at) comcast (dot) net.
See them all here.
7. Music, music, music! There’s a ton of great music being shared online, music that is unique in the sense that the artists are performing in their homes just for us. There’s Joan Baez in her kitchen, Josh Groban in the shower, Keith Urban in his home studio, Lukas Nelson in his bedroom (why didn’t you tell me Willie Nelson’s son was such a talented hottie?) . . .
Many of these are just voice and guitar, very intimate and pared down. I love seeing these musicians just being themselves in their personal spaces.
There are other fabulous quarantine performances by groups who’ve collaborated from their separate homes, like Lady Antebellum. Awesome technology at work. Do visit the CMT YouTube Channel for lots of good songs, and the chance to donate to COVID-19 Relief in Kenny Rogers’ name (organized by MusicCares Foundation).
One of my favorite daily music fixes comes courtesy of Mary Chapin Carpenter. Spending a few minutes listening to her in her lovely home with her dog Angus calms, soothes, and centers. I feel better just listening to her speak — so kind and humble. Here’s an episode from her “Songs from Home” series:
(Listen to the entire series at Chapin’s YouTube Channel.)
Finally, Joan Baez dedicated this song to John Prine just a week or so before he died. “Hello in There” seems so apt for what’s happening now — even sadder now that John’s gone. (Don’t you love the fireplace in her kitchen, and her collection of copperware?) 🙂
8. For you crafty types who like to embroider: Sara Barnes at Brown Paper Bag has designed a cool Little Women themed pattern, featuring a quote from Jo March: “I’m happy as I am.”
The colorful flowers in this pattern are perfect for a much needed dose of spring cheer. Make it and frame it for yourself, or surprise someone in lockdown who needs a little lift.
Check out Sara’s blog post to download the pattern and to read her step-by-step instructions.
9. Although NYC’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is temporarily closed, they’re now offering a series of free online art courses.
Though the classes are art-focused, they are tailored to a broad audience. Samples: “Seeing Through Photographs,” “Art and Ideas: Teaching with Themes,” and “Fashion as Design.”
The “Modern Art and Ideas” course will help interested learners understand modern art through audio interviews with artists, designers, and curators alongside readings and exercises.
A nice way to learn something new at your own pace, to suit your schedule. See the full list of offerings here.
♥️ Bonus Cool Thing: A tasty coloring page courtesy of Pennsylvania artist/illustrator Kendyll Hillegas!
You may remember when I interviewed Kendyll several years ago, and how I’ve raved about her amazing foodie still-life illustrations. From fruit to pastry to botanicals to wildlife, everything looks so real!
She recently posted this free downloadable Bread & Pastry coloring page at her tumblr blog. She’ll be releasing a new one every Saturday for the next 4 weeks, and sharing her favorites on Instagram. Go here to have a little fun with Bread & Pastry!
By the way, if you’re an aspiring artist, check out Kendyll’s online classes, available exclusively at Skillshare.
Finally, for our blue song — here is Miranda Lambert singing “Bluebird” (the current single from her latest album, “Wildcard”). About this song, she says,
I love ‘Bluebird.’ It’s a song like I’ve never written before and I’m so proud to be a part of it . . . Since I wrote it, I’ve been seeing bluebirds everywhere. The bluebirds had always been there — I live on a farm — but I never saw them like I see them now. It reminds me to open my eyes to what’s around me. Now, seeing a bluebird sitting on a branch means so much more to me. I see a little piece of hope there, sitting with wings, and it’s a reminder. I think this is one of those songs where every person takes what they need to from it.
Check out the official video if you like (very glamorous), but for this “Stay Home, Save Lives” Roundup, we’re sharing her lockdown version recorded at her farm in Tennessee.
EAT EXTRA PIE
READ MORE BOOKS
SING MORE SONGS
DON’T LOSE HOPE
BELIEVE IN BLUE
Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.