[review + recipe] I’m Feeling Blue, Too! by Marjorie Maddox and Philip Huber

 

Look! Just what we all need: a new BLUE book!

Yep, this one’s got my name written all over it, and I simply had to share it with you today.

Safe to say, most, if not all of us — young, old, somewhere in-between — have a crazy-making case of the pandemic blues. It may come and go, but some dark shade of it always seems to linger in the back of our minds. Or maybe we just have the blahs, feel bored or uninspired (confinement can do that to you). No better time to banish the ho-hums and embrace the unique power, beauty, and wonder of blue. ๐Ÿ™‚

In I’m Feeling Blue, Too!, a poetry picture book written by Marjorie Maddox and illustrated by Philip Huber (Resource Publications, 2020), a young boy celebrates the essence of blue, discovering its presence in the world around and within him.

A sequence of 13 poems drives the narrative, which takes place on a summer’s day from morning to night. The opening poem is a wake-up call for all:

 

Hey you,

got those summertime slumps,
down-in-the-dumps,
life-full-of-bumps,
bad-news blues?

Time to get up
and shake up
the woulda-coulda-shouldaโ€™s.
Time to get the โ€œcanโ€™t-do-nothin’โ€ out of blue.

Time to zap the sad
with some kaleidoscope clues.
Come on, whistle for Blue
and get moving!

Get ready. Get set. Guess blue!

*

Who wouldn’t be cheered and motivated by such upbeat, toe-tapping, finger-snapping, alliterative, (and yes!) bluesy lines? And how much do I love that the dog’s name is Blue? ๐Ÿ™‚

We follow our young explorer as he searches for those “kaleidoscope clues,” an open invitation for the reader to join him as he dons a “color of cozy” sweater and eats blueberry pancakes and muffins for breakfast (“yum that hits your stomach with a happy sigh”), before venturing outside for “Legs like springs,/arms like wings” bouncing on the trampoline, where he grabs a piece of sky.

Awake yet? BLAST OFF BLUE!

 

 

Next it’s time to contemplate the majesty of the ocean by diving right in and riding “the waves of wet wonder.” We’re reminded not to be fooled by those clear drops of water, as,

This liquid’s a magician
that grabs the sky’s hue

and turns miles of moisture
into the true blue of fun.

Yeah, I’m all in!

There are quieter moments too, taking the time to be still and appreciate the natural world: a bouquet of blue blossoms, a bluebird whose whistle “sings spring,/sings sky” while delivering “another sweet treat of crickets, mulberries, and bees” to its nestlings, or listening to the “voice” of a dragonfly whose “flutter flaps summer,/and hums to the blue firs/and strums with cicadas.” Simply bluetiful!

 

 

It’s fitting that the boy squirts a tube of blue paint all over, listing the many blue things he could create with his art (butterflies, bluegills, blue jeans, cold lips, sapphire, moonlight), since the color blue is often associated with inspiration, expansiveness, imagination and creativity.

Extending this theme even more, the boy’s building blocks might inspire a structure requiring precision, patience, weighing and wondering. We see the value of envisioning, considering the possibilities and consequences as he builds a castle of dreams, a good chance to ponder what kind of life he might fashion for himself.

 

 

As night falls, the boy is under the covers, flashlight in hand, as he imagines “steel-blue knights” attacking “nightmarish dragons,” delivering “castles and kingdoms from fiery doom.”

Oh, the magic of creative play, the endless adventures that await as we drift into sleep laden dreamworlds “across landscapes of make-believe!”

You may be surprised to hear that for this book, the pictures came first. Huber actually created the first version of this book while still a college student. Many years later, as a college art professor, he decided to use scratchboard for the illustrations, and then asked Marjorie Maddox, his colleague at Lock Haven University, to help him with the text.

 

 

So for Marjorie, this was largely an ekphrastic project, as she wrote a series of poems to capture the energy, exuberance, playfulness, beauty, and various moods of Philip’s pictures, each one a masterwork of incredible line work, detail, texture, and of course, various shades of gorgeous blue.

Marjorie’s poems are a joy to read aloud with their jaunty rhythms, wordplay, pleasing cadences, sensory detail, and clever use of poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance, rhyme, and onomatopoeia. Readers and budding writers will love the variety of poetic forms, especially the concrete poems: mini word morsels resembling blueberries floating on air, a poem shaped like a large blossom/bouquet featuring the scientific names of blue flowers (with another poem hidden within).

 

 

The bluebird and dragonfly companion poems are lyrical gems, while the paint splat list poem, with words randomly scattered across the page, mimics the drops of splashed paint in the illustration. And what about the trampoline poem, the boy bouncing high into the sky? It contains words that literally rise above their lines! It’s a too-much-fun, up and down, down and up, bouncy blast. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m Feeling Blue, Too! is a fabulous mentor text for poets of all ages who’d like to explore their own favorite colors, in concrete or abstract form, word painting real and/or imagined worlds in which to dwell.

 

 

Score a copy of this book soon if you’d like to taste a morsel of midnight, wear you favorite shade of warmth, bounce high to the azure sky, travel in a bubble, float into an ocean of fantasy. When you fully embrace blue, you can swim in it, hear the hum and whistle of it, breathe in the fragrance of it, feel creatively empowered by it, or dwell in its high fantasy night. Feeling blue, inside and out, from here to there, and back again.

Now how’s that for a case of the feel-good blues? Bye bye doldrums. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yes, I know, you’re still thinking about those blueberries.

*

 

TRUE BLUE BLUEBERRY CRUMB BARS

 

 

Seriously, after seeing the boy’s blueberry elation (arms high in the air, eyes crazed with anticipation), how could we not satisfy our blueberry cravings?

 

 

Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear decided on Blueberry Crumb Bars — easy, stackable, portable, totally yummy, and most important,ย  approved by our favorite doctor. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

After they had fun playing with the blueberries — rolling them hither and yon, tossing them to each other, bowling with them, balancing them on their heads, etc., they set to work.

 

 

Easy as pie, it was just a matter of tossing fresh blueberries with a little sugar, fresh lemon juice and cornstarch for the filling. The same dough is used for the shortbread-like base and crumbly topping, then it’s about 35 minutes in the oven, and voilร !

 

 

 

Now you can feel blue and eat it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Blueberry Crumb Bars

  • Servings: 12 large or 16 small squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

  1. First, prepare your blueberry filling. In a small bowl, gently toss together the fresh blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Set aside, then preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.
  2. With an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and egg. Mix until the dough is moist but still crumbly. Divide the dough in half, and press one half into the prepared pan to make the crust.
  3. Pour the blueberry filling mixture over the crust, then sprinkle the rest of the crumbly dough over the blueberries.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and the dough has browned a bit (do not over-brown and let the crust dry out).
  5. Cool completely before cutting and eating.

~ Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

Take three of these and call me in the morning.

 

*

 

I’M FEELING BLUE, TOO!
written by Marjorie Maddox
illustrated by Philip Huber
published by Resource Publications, August 2020
Poetry Picture Book for ages 5+, 34 pp.

โ™ฅ๏ธ Enjoy this video of Marjorie (looking lovely in blue) reading from the book:

 

*

 

The wee-sourceful and weely talented Bridget Magee is hosting the Roundup at wee words for wee ones. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Stay safe, strong, and be well. Have a good weekend!

 


*Interior spreads from I’m Feeling Blue, Too, text copyright ยฉ 2020 Marjorie Maddox, illustrations ยฉ 2020 Philip Huber, published by Resource Publications. All rights reserved.

**Copyright ยฉ 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

58 thoughts on “[review + recipe] I’m Feeling Blue, Too! by Marjorie Maddox and Philip Huber

      1. More like blackberries I would say. They grow on trees which can get quite huge .We have some growing on our tree now, cos its summer season here in South Africa now๐ŸŒž

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      2. So I did it this morning: made mulberry crumb bars based on your recipe here, and using fresh mulberries from our tree ๐Ÿ™‚ They are scrumptious! With a cup of spiced chai on the side. Maybe I will include the result in a post on my blog in future. Will link back to your post here of course ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again — definitely a do-again

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  1. Oh you beautifully blue lady! (my second favorite color after orange is blue) I can’t wait to check out Maddox’s new book – blast off blue! Thank you for the nummy blueberry bar recipe, too. And I can’t wait for the US to turn blue after Nov 3. (He-who-shall-not-be-named is the only time orange is ugly)

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    1. I do wish “he who shall not be named” hadn’t given orange a negative connotation — otherwise it’s a fun, quirky color and I can see why you love it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ssshhhh — don’t tell anyone, but despite my obsession with blue these last several years, green is actually my favorite color — my house has a lot of green decor. I find it a creative, restorative color. But yes, the US MUST TURN BLUE after November 3!!!

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  2. Your post is, in a word, stunning. That gorgeous book, then your amazing photography (especially love the display of “blueberry elation” with blueberries scattered about, as if in the air, the boy reaching up) – glorious. Then – I couldn’t believe it!- Fauci! An awe-inspiring visual adventure with a new treasure at every turn. When I started reading I recalled a teenage friend whose mother was told to paint his room something other than blue; it was too depressing. But now, after those illustrations, those poems, your creative showcasing… blue beckons the spirit to higher, deeper, fantastical, imaginative places – indeed, the very antidote to doldrums! Don’t the sky and sea know blue’s healing power…

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    1. Thanks for your very kind and generous words, Fran. I’ve been on a blue streak ever since the 2016 election, so this book really struck a chord. I enjoyed sharing it with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A case of pandemic blue, “… some dark shade of it (blue) always seems to linger in the back of our minds,” seemed to hit me this morning but the first poem of “I’m Feeling Blue, Too” is a great wake up call. Thanks for starting out your post with this, Jama. As always, your posts are filled with amazing content and yummy treats. I love this quote from the video, “The universe waiting for you to paint…” Ready to enter the blue sky world of autumn for a nature walk…

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    1. Yes, though the book was written before the pandemic, it certainly has taken on new meanings for me as well and new ways to look at the color blue! I relish those walks, most certainly.

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  4. I was wondering who your favorite doctor was…and then I saw him. ๐Ÿ™‚ This looks like a wonderful book, and the recipe pairs with it delightfully. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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      1. Thanks for the kind words, M. Dr. Fauci definitely takes the cake/crumbs — in serious competition with my secret husband Colin F. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  5. Oh, Jama, this book is definitely for YOU! It’s new to me so thank you very much for sharing. I love Marjorie’s book, INside Out about writing and love this story of how the book came to be. The art by Phlip Huber is gorgeous. I love the picture of the boy “a circle to somewhere”, really each one and the poems are just right for the art you shared with them. Thanks much for another special post.

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    1. Yes, Philip’s scratchboard art is gorgeous, and Marjorie did a fabulous job of creating poems for each of his pictures. How can you go wrong with BLUE?!!? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Jama, this sounds like a book I need to get. Thank you for sharing it today. Your blueberry crumb bars look so yummy. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Oh, and I love the photo with Fauci. He is my hero!

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  7. Just like the blueberry pancake and muffin โ€œyum that hits your stomach with a happy sighโ€, your post is a rich, delicious treat this morning! I feel energized, inspired, and determined to get this books into my hands soon. Thanks for a fabulous review, a tantalizing new recipe, and a wonderful start to the day.

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  8. Now how do you turn the idea of feeling blue into a celebration of fun? Come here to read about Blue Too. Oh, what a fun post. I really do need to read these poems. And, the blueberry crumble is calling me…I mean calling me on a blue phone. A fun post with good details to sink my teeth into. Thanks, Jama!

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      1. I always have blueberries on hand (and, of course, this book), so I especially loved the real blueberries spilling across the page of blueberries flying through the air. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. Jama – what a post! I’ve been busily trying to shake my blues, and remembering that poetry 9and especially Poetry Friday) is such a wonderful tonic. Also rapidly remembering that Poetry Friday leads to much book-buying, and this one is now on my wish list. Thankyou!

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  10. Fascinating that the art came first! Thank you for these upbeat blues. A young person came to our door recently saying she was going to be making blueberry ice cream and did we want to buy any? Enterprising! (We said yes)

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  11. Oh… the bars! They are calling me! I once visited an island in Rainy Lake on the border between MN and Canada. There were wild blueberries ripe for the picking, and we picked and ate. They were small, but so much more flavorful than the domestic ones. I have wanted to relive that feast over the years, and now this book and your photos bring that wish back to me. Thank you for sharing this book and your fab recipe!

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  12. Thanks for sharing the news about Marjorie’s book, Jama – I remember seeing bits & pieces of it when I hosted her for her “Inside Out” poetry book earlier this year, and it looked intriguing. Very interesting about how it came about, and the fact that it’s a mostly ekphrastic-type of collaboration!

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  13. This book looks like a wonderful cure for the pandemic blues. The poems you highlighted are full of joy, Jama. And such gorgeous art! Congratulations, Marjorie!

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    1. Yes, a much needed cure for the pandemic blues. Philip never could have imagined, all those years ago when he first conceived of this book, that the story would resonate for very different reasons.

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