nine cool things on a Tuesday

1. Happy November! To warm us up, enjoy Korean artist Selynn Lee’s cozy animal paintings. Her earthy brown-rust palette is very autumnal and a nice way to anticipate Thanksgiving.

Selynn currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany, and is all about creating pictures that depict joy and make her laugh.

She loves to travel internationally and learn new languages. She’s been drawing animals since childhood.

Her art caught my eye because of my love of foxes and bears. I like the idea of different animal species peacefully co-existing. 🙂

To purchase cards, prints, and stickers, visit SelynnDraws (Etsy). Larger prints are available at InPrint.  Most recent work may be found at Selynn’s Instagram.


2. New Book Alert: Just released at the end of September is The Little Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (Crown BFYR, 2022):

Nobel Peace Prize winners His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu share their own childhood struggles to show young readers how they can thrive and find joy even during the most challenging times in this picture book adaptation of the international bestseller The Book of Joy.

“If you just focus on the thing that is making you sad, then the sadness is all you see. But if you look around, you will see that joy is everywhere.”

In their only collaboration for children, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu use their childhood stories to show young people how to find joy even in hard times and why sharing joy with others makes it grow. The two spiritual masters tell a simple story, vibrantly brought to life by bestselling illustrator Rafael López, of how every child has joy inside them, even when it sometimes hides, and how we can find it, keep it close, and grow it by sharing it with the world.

Sprung from the friendship, humor, and deep affection between these holy men, the book is a perfectly timed and important gift from two revered spiritual leaders to children. It is a reminder that joy is abundant—no matter what challenges we face—and has the power to transform the world around us even in the darkest of times.

This is certainly a much needed message in these trying times. I wasn’t familiar with The Book of Joy (2016), and will have to look for it. So glad there’s now a children’s version illustrated by award winning artist Rafael López (genius)! Looking forward to reading both books.

Congratulations, Rafael!


3. Easy as pie! To me, November is pie month. I guess it’s because of Thanksgiving, where pie is the best part of the meal. 🙂

No matter the flavor, there’s always a tiny smidgen of guilt when indulging. Not so when it comes to these adorable handsewn felt pies by Kelsey Mariani. 

What could be cuter than having a calorie-free slice smile at you? Goodbye, guilt, hello, BFF. 

Especially cool: Kelsey will personalize your pie slices. Choose a flavor (blueberry, cherry, pumpkin, lemon, key lime, chocolate, blackberry, raspberry), then opt for a lattice crust or topping (whipped cream or meringue). It looks like you can also order a jingle pie.

Not into pies? Kelsey will fix you up with cookies, wine and cheese, donuts, PopTarts, pizza, or a variety of fruits. Yes, they’re all smiling at you. 🙂 Whet your appetite at Kelsey’s Etsy Shop, KMChefCrafts. Fun for play or display!


4. Heads up, Billy Collins fans! Look what’s coming out November 15: Musical Tables (Random House, 2022):

From the former United States Poet Laureate and New York Timesbestselling author of Aimless Love, a collection of more than 125 small poems, all of them new, and each a thought or observation compressed to its emotional essence.

“Whenever I pick up a new book of poems, I flip through the pages looking for small ones. Just as I might have trust in an abstract painter more if I knew he or she could draw a credible chicken, I have faith in poets who can go short.”—Billy Collins.

You can spot a Billy Collins poem immediately. The amiable voice, the light touch, the sudden turn at the end. He “puts the ‘fun’  back in profundity,” says poet Alice Fulton. In his own words, his poems tend to “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.”

Now “America’s favorite poet” (The Wall Street Journal) has found a new form for his unique poetic style: the small poem. Here Collins writes about his trademark themes of nature, animals, poetry, mortality, absurdity, and love—all in a handful of lines. Neither haiku nor limerick, the small poem pushes to an extreme poetry’s famed power to condense emotional and conceptual meaning. Inspired by the small poetry of writers as diverse as William Carlos Williams, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, and Charles Simic, and written with Collins’s recognizable wit and wisdom, the poems of Musical Tables show one of our greatest poets channeling his unique voice into a new phase of his exceptional career.

3:00 AM

Only my hand
is asleep,
but it’s a start.

You can’t get through a Collins book without smiling and feeling good about something, often something that wouldn’t have occurred to you. I’m looking forward to reading this new one, to see how he handles very short poems. Condense, compress, distill!


5. Another New Book Alert: True You: A Gender Journey by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner (Clarion Books, 2022) came out in September.

There are different ways to show and be who you are in this affirming photographic picture book that offers a celebratory and informative look at kids and their wide-ranging gender identities.

“Sometimes it’s hard when kids say you have to be a boy or a girl when you’re not. Everyone should feel safe to just be who they are.”

Girls, boys, neither, both, or just not sure. Kids are kids! There are different ways to show and be who you are.

It’s up to you—how you feel, how you dress, how you act, how you play, learn, and love.

Who is the true you?

With the permission of their parents, the children in this photographic picture book were recorded and transcribed by authors Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner as they were photographed. These powerful testimonials paired with a spare narrative and vibrant, joyful portraits offer up a humanizing and moving exploration of kids and how they feel about their true selves.

I was happy to learn about this book, one that tackles a controversial subject. We all know there are kids out there who would benefit from reading it, and we also know there are schools in this country that are banning titles like these. All the more reason to spread the word far and wide. It’s hard enough growing up. Let’s give kids a fair chance to celebrate who they truly are.

Congrats to Gwen and Shelley. Thank you for making this book!


6. Now Serving: Yes, yes, I know you’re starving by now. How about some tasty food illustrations by Disha Sharma

Disha is a multidisciplinary illustrator who specializes in food and botanical illustrations. She creates images for editorial and package design, branding and advertising.

She works mainly in watercolor with other mediums such as gouache, pencils and Procreate.

Don’t you love the vibrant colors and attention to detail? Sometimes we don’t appreciate the physical beauty of our favorite foods until artists give us a chance to take a closer look.

Visit Disha’s website, MarkdishaDesigns, her Instagram, or her Behance page for lots more. She welcomes both private and commercial projects. If you’d like to exercise your creative muscle, check out Disha’s classes (Watercolor Essentials, Watercolor Botanical Painting, Paint to Patterns on Adobe Photoshop) on Skillshare. 


7. Food for Thought: Ever jump to conclusions? Make hasty assumptions or be too quick to judge? Check out this new picture book, which has a message applicable to kids and grown-ups alike: But Perhaps, Just Maybe . . . by Tuvia Dikman Oro and Menahem Halberstadt (Green Bean Books, 2022):

A beautifully-illustrated picture book for young readers, that teaches children to have the patience to look past annoyances, and not judge people too quickly.

Duck and Hedgehog wheel their broken bicycles to Mrs. Hoopoe’s Bicycle Shop to their flat tires fixed. Suddenly, Cat whizzes past them on her motorcycle, leaving Duck and Hedgehog choking on clouds of dust. Duck is annoyed, but Hedgehog suggests that maybe Cat is rushing off to see her injured sister.

Afterwards, Duck and Hedgehog have to navigate around a rock rolled into the street by Mr. Billy Goat. Once again, Duck is irritated, but Hedgehog wonders if Mr. Billy Goat was trying to fill a pothole in the road. When Duck and Hedgehog, tired and hungry, want to snack on raspberries along the way, they discover that Mrs. Fox has picked all the fruit. 

Duck is understandably grumpy, but Hedgehog imagines Mrs. Fox might have picked the berries to share with friends. Finally, at Mrs. Bird’s Bicycle Shop, Duck and Hedgehog catch up with Cat, Mr. Billy Goat and Mrs. Fox. 

As everyone enjoys raspberry juice together, Duck realizes that Hedgehog was right all along, and that his friends each had good reasons for unintentionally creating the earlier problems!

This book made me smile because I recognized myself: I’m often like Duck, but would like to be more like Hedgehog. 🙂 Patience, patience — such a virtue. This story is a good reminder that there are sometimes good reasons for everyday annoyances. Maybe the world would be a better place if we made a conscious effort to give others the benefit of the doubt?


8. Holiday Goodness: Check out the John Parra Wondershop Collection at Target! We are big fans of John’s picture books and also loved the USPS Delicioso Forever Stamps he designed several years ago. Now we’re excited that we can also enjoy his colorful art this holiday season with a line of gift wrap, gift bags, gift boxes, greeting cards and a ceramic keepsake ornament.

Isn’t it more fun and meaningful when you know who the artist is behind the paper products you purchase? 

John’s collection is available online and in Target stores beginning this month. While you’re at it, why not purchase a copy of John’s latest book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son (Paula Wiseman Books/ S&S, 2022)? It earned three **starred reviews** and would look fabulous covered in John’s giftwrap or presented in one of his cool gift bags. Extra special present for a special someone. Happy Holidays!

Author-illustrator John Parra.


9. Tasha Tudor Fans: With the year winding down, it’s time to think about 2023 calendars (how time flies!).

Featuring 12 (11″ x 14″) pages with illustrations from Tasha Tudor’s whimsical world. Illustrations taken from First Poems of Childhood, Around the Year, A Child’s Garden of Verses, Betty Crocker’s Kitchen Gardens, Fairy Tales from Hans C. Andersen, A Book of Christmas, Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook, Five Senses, and more. 

This calendar hangs by a sturdy metal spiral.  The calendar pages are blank on the back. What a pretty way to mark the days. Order yours here.


🌺 BONUS COOL THING: Children’s book illustrator Jane Dyer, who won our September Bundle of Joy Giveaway, recently sent me a special thank you photo showing her handmade needle-felted dolls posing with all the goodies. That’s Elderflower (red jacket) seated to the left of the Downton Abbey tea tin. She and the Blossom Babies have gathered for a special tea party (I spy Snowdrop, Hellebore, and Hyacinth, among others, all with AS pencils!). Don’t you love Elderflower’s kitchen? And check out the artsyletters “Raven and Cauldron” notecard hanging on the wall, too. 🙂

Not only did Jane make the dolls, clothes, shoes and accessories (with wool from her own sheep), she also made some of the props. No end to her many talents! If you haven’t already seen her wonderful book Teaflet & Roog Make a Mess (written and photographed by friend and neighbor Jeanne Birdsall), you must — Jane made all the dolls and animals for it.

Thank you so much, Jane!!


🐻 One More Bonus Cool Thing: All the Paddingtons left at Royal Residences in memory of the Queen (1000+) have been gathered, steam cleaned, and donated to Barnardos, Camilla’s children’s charity. Here’s the Queen Consort with some of them:

You may remember when the Queen made a video with Paddington for her Platinum Jubilee. But even before then, Paddington figured in royal life. When Prince William was born, he received a Paddington plush toy he loved so much, that when Prince George was born, PW ordered one for him from Harrods. And of course, Catherine danced with Paddington at Paddington Station (2017). PW was especially touched to see Paddingtons among all the flowers left for the Queen. Isn’t it wonderful that the future King has a soft spot for our favorite bear from Darkest Peru? He’s just that kind of bear.

Watch this video to learn more about Paddington’s connections to the royal family:


This month’s Swoon Tune is Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” the title song from his album released in November 1992. Can’t believe it’s been 30 years!!

It’s a standout for me because I distinctly remember absolutely loving it from the very first time I heard it. Usually it takes a couple of listens for a new song to really take hold of me. Not this one. The melody felt so natural and artless – a love song with a dreamy ethereal feel about it.

Young wrote the song as a tribute to his wife Pegi Young, with whom he is dancing in the official music video. Linda Ronstadt did the background vocals. The moon motif was important to Young, with its quasi-religious undertones.

The arrangement is perfection; love the soft brush strokes of the drums and the steel guitar which comes in every now and then. This tune captures the essence of romantic love and celebrates the longevity of relationships.

Enjoy the official music video, followed by Foxes and Fossils’s brilliant cover. I was happy to discover F&F during the pandemic. They are now my favorite cover band (if you’re not familiar with them, you must visit their YouTube channel). Maggie Adams sings lead on “Harvest Moon.” Beautiful job.













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18 thoughts on “nine cool things on a Tuesday

  1. I think that reading this post at the top of my day fills me with joy. What wonderful “things” were shared. Thank you, Jama. From the artwork to the steam cleaning of teddy bears, I am delighted and ready to charge into the details of middle school. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear it, Linda! I can’t imagine how long it took to steam clean 1000 teddy bears. My “dusty” bears have been giving me the stink eye lately. I need to vacuum some of them since steam cleaning is a little too labor intensive for me. 😀


  2. I just ordered several copies of The Little Book of Joy for gifts, Jama, & took a long while to read your post because I had to keep ordering or noting some of the shares. My library has the books! I have a wonderful library! There was a young girl at the bookstore who wanted me to find some fox books for her last week. I wish I could share those fabulous fox paintings with her. They, and the other animals, are so sweet. Every bit is a delight, especially eating my lunch with Neil Young! Ha! Tuesdays with you are always a pleasure!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m late to the blog today. But instead of reading quickly with my coffee, I’m savoring it on my sofa in the late afternoon! I really love that song too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Super excited for the new version of the Book of Joy. What a lovely collaboration – I do appreciate these young reader versions of some really neat adult books. I also appreciate the reminder of Billy C’s new book – I hear it’s NOTHING like his usual poetry, and I cannot wait.

    Liked by 1 person

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