nine cool things on a tuesday

1.  Nothing cozier than settling down in your favorite armchair, book in hand, cat purring, tea and cake at the ready (don’t you love the blue and white china?). 🙂

Self taught UK artist Lucy Almey Bird grew up in rural Somerset, and likes to paint domestic scenes from everyday life. I love the “kinder, gentler” tone of her pictures, many of which show people reading and relaxing, enjoying the fresh air, or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.

Pretty details catch your eye, such as the patterns on clothing or wallpaper, and intricately drawn leaves, branches, or wildflower blossoms. 

The child of creative parents, Lucy was encouraged to draw and paint from an early age. Regular trips to museums and art galleries ignited her passion for art. She works primarily with acrylic on board, and you can order prints by emailing her via her website.


2. New Picture Book Alert! Just released March 30, 2021: Be a Tree! by Maria Gianferrari and Felicita Sala (Abrams, 2021)!

A lyrical, gorgeously illustrated look at the majesty of trees—and what humans can learn from them.

Stand tall. 
Stretch your branches to the sun. 
Be a tree!

We are all like trees: our spines, trunks; our skin, bark; our hearts giving us strength and support, like heartwood. We are fueled by air and sun.

And, like humans, trees are social. They “talk” to spread information; they share food and resources. They shelter and take care of one another. They are stronger together.
In this gorgeous and poetic celebration of one of nature’s greatest creations, acclaimed author Maria Gianferrari and illustrator Felicita Sala both compare us to the beauty and majesty of trees—and gently share the ways in which trees can inspire us to be better people.

As someone who lives in the woods, and who’s also a big fan of both Maria’s and Felicita’s work, I am extra excited about seeing this one. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Be a Tree! has already received **starred reviews** from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, who said, “This book has the advantage of lyrical, accessible poetry and vibrant watercolors from an ever changing palette.”

Sigh. I may have to go outside and read this book to our trees. 🙂

Congratulations, Maria and Felicita!


3. kiBooka Relaunch! Remember back in December, when I mentioned the new kiBooka webpage created by Newbery Author Linda Sue Park?

Its purpose is to showcase the work of Korean American (and Korean diaspora) authors and illustrators. It was initially a page linked to Linda Sue’s website, but now kiBooka is a separate site with its own URL! 

You’ll find many new additions to the ever-growing roster, which is divided into picture book, middle grade, and young adult categories. There’s still a new featured author every week, and recently, Linda Sue started a “Mask-up!” campaign.

She wanted to project a more positive image of the Korean American community in response to the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country. Because Korea has had one of the more successful responses to the pandemic largely due to compliance with universal mask wearing, she invited kiBookans to submit photos of themselves wearing masks and holding their books. You can view these photos by clicking the “Mask-Up!” link on the website’s home page.

Thanks again to Linda Sue and Vicki Palmquist of Winding Oak for creating kiBooka, a wonderful, much needed resource for educators, librarians, booksellers, homeschoolers, and book loving people everywhere!!


4. Speaking of cool Korean American writers, check out D.C. area author Frances Park’s lovely essay, “Between Us,” at Eat, Darling, Eat, an online community that explores mother/daughter relationships through the universal language of food. Frances recounts fond memories of cooking with and sharing delicious restaurant meals with her mom (the mention of kimchi, mandu, and tteok will make your mouth water). 

Frances with her mom

It’s a poignant piece touching on family history that paints a portrait of a loving mother who at times could be “more military than maternal,” as we learn a little about the hardships she endured before coming to America. It also speaks to their special bond and cooking as an expression of love. 

I was not aware of Eat, Darling, Eat before reading Frances’s piece and I look forward to reading more of the reminiscences shared there (they welcome stories and recipes from all). Can’t wait to peruse their recipe archive (“Between Us” includes a recipe for Chop Chae). Yum!


5. Have I introduced you to the newest Alphabet Soup kitchen helper? Meet Grogu, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, a.k.a. The Child. 

If you’re a Mandalorian fan, then you’re all too familiar with him. We don’t subscribe to Disney+, so I haven’t actually watched the series, but since I kept seeing this little guy all over the internet I decided to do a little investigating. 

Len is actually the big Star Wars fan in our house, but I have to admit that after seeing Grogu in several YouTube videos, I grew attached to him right away. He is absolutely adorable!

Perhaps the clincher was the scene where Grogu steals blue macarons from a classmate. See if you don’t find him irresistible:

Grogu came our way via Santa this past December. So far he’s been very well behaved, even brought along his own tea. We need to make him some blue macarons, though. Good thing there’s a video showing us the recipe (yes, macarons are tricky to make, but there’s also a simplified, more kid-friendly “blue sugar cookie” recipe near the end.

We Love Grogu!!


6. I know you’re hungry. Here’s something new to drool over: Recipes from the World of Tolkien: Inspired by the Legends, by Robert Tuesley Anderson (Thunder Bay Press, 2020).

If you’ve ever wondered what a Hobbit, an Elf, or a Dwarf might eat in a day’s meals, this cookbook is for you! Whip up some tasty fare with recipes that cover all six mealtimes from the realm of J.R.R. Tolkien. Divided by the time of day, these recipes use modern ingredients and culinary techniques, and American measurements. A great resource for Lord of the Rings parties, this book is a perfect way to experience real food that tastes like a fantasy!

This one’s gotten loads of positive reviews, most of them citing how easy and tasty the recipes are. Although there aren’t any color photos of finished recipes, the book does contain some lovely illustrations, something that’s fine with me when it comes to literary cookbooks. 

Even if I never make any of the recipes, I’m looking forward to reading this cookbook and exploring the tastes and smells of Middle-earth. After all, it’ll give me a chance to channel my inner hobbit and vicariously enjoy six meals a day. Coney Stew, Pork Pie, or Honey Cake, anyone?


7. New Verse Novel Alert: Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger by Margarita Engle (Atheneum, 2021), was just released March 23!

Acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells a painful, poignant story of love in a time of hunger inspired by her own family’s struggles during a dark period in Cuba’s history.

The people of Cuba are living in el período especial en tiempos de paz—the special period in times of peace. That’s what the government insists that this era must be called, but the reality behind these words is starvation.

Liana is struggling to find enough to eat. Yet hunger has also made her brave: she finds the courage to skip a summer of so-called volunteer farm labor, even though she risks government retribution. Nearby, a quiet, handsome boy named Amado also refuses to comply, so he wanders alone, trying to discover rare sources of food.

A chance encounter with an enigmatic dog brings Liana and Amado together. United in hope and hunger, they soon discover that their feelings for each other run deep. Love can feed their souls and hearts—but is it enough to withstand el período especial?

It’s always a treat when a new Margarita Engle book comes out. A former Young People’s Poet Laureate and the author of many award winning verse novels, memoirs, and picture books, she’s one of the most prolific and versatile writers in the field of children’s and young adult literature. As you probably know, she’s a master of the verse novel form.

Your Heart, My Sky has already received a coveted **starred review** from Kirkus, who said, “Engle’s words masterfully convey an evergreen human truth: that, in the end, we want to be able to live and love to our hearts’ content. A deeply touching read that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.”

Sounds like a must read to me. This one’s for ages 12 and up. 🙂

Congratulations, Margarita!


8. New Poetry Anthology Alert! Just released March 23, 2021: How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews (Storey Publishing, 2021).

More and more people are turning to poetry as an antidote to divisiveness, negativity, anxiety, and the frenetic pace of life. How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hopeoffers readers uplifting, deeply felt, and relatable poems by well-known poets from all walks of life and all parts of the US, including inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ross Gay, Tracy K. Smith, and others.

The work of these poets captures the beauty, pleasure, and connection readers hunger for. How to Love the World, which contains new works by Ted Kooser, Mark Nepo, and Jane Hirshfield, invites readers to use poetry as part of their daily gratitude practice to uncover the simple gifts of abundance and joy to be found everywhere. With pauses for stillness and invitations for writing and reflection throughout, as well as reading group questions and topics for discussion in the back, this book can be used to facilitate discussion in a classroom or in any group setting.

Just received my copy and am blissfully and intently making my way through the beautiful poems. Just like Crews’s first anthology, Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection (Green Writer’s Press, 2019), this new one provides inspiration, spiritual nourishment, and hope, just when we need it most.


9. Finally, some fun new thingamabobs from our friends at Genuine Fred, who continue to provide us with functional objects that make us smile.

Clippity chip clip: As far as I’m concerned, one can never have too many chip clips in the house. We already have quite a few, but somehow, every time I need one, they’re otherwise occupied. 

Hmmm, I think chip clips that look like actual potato chips are brilliant. It’s one of those simple ideas you wish you’d thought of yourself.  Seems so obvious, right?

Potato Clips come in sets of four (they also have Tortilla Clips). Love them!


Have you been making any mistakes lately? Probably not, since you’re practically perfect in every way. 🙂 But. 

Just in case you need to erase something, you’ll enjoy it more if you use one of these foodie erasers.

Fred offers macaron and wiener erasers, depending on whether your preference is sweet or savory. 

They look just about good enough to eat, don’t they (please don’t)? 

These would make fun Happy Spring surprises for loved ones working or schooling from home. Here’s your chance to rub people the right way (tee hee). 😀


Our blue song this week is four and half minutes of dreaminess: a duet of “Blue Velvet” with Tony Bennett and k.d. lang. This track was included on Bennett’s 2011 album, Duets II, which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

I’m a longtime fan of both Bennett and lang, whom I saw in concert twice. Both are consummate artists who are the epitome of smooth. Relax, close your eyes, and enjoy.











BIDEN BLUE (Did you notice both Joe and Jill have blue eyes?) 😀


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**Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Well, you hit me in the heart with every part today, Jama. I’ve never seen KD Lang, but have seen Tony Bennett, a favorite for all time! KiBooka is new to me, have bookmarked it! Baby Yoda visits me sometimes with Ingrid, I adore anything Tolkien and I have & love How To Love the World & just got Margarita’s new book from the library. (‘Be A Tree” is on its way!) Thank you for starting my Tuesdays just right! Have a wonderful day!

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