[review] Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins and Nicole Wong

After watching his grandfather compose a haiku with brush and ink, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?”

Wise and gentle poet Eto answers by taking Kiyoshi on a meditative  walk around their city to demonstrate how sensory perception, mindfulness, imagination, and emotional reflection all play a role in inspiring new poems.

As they stroll along familiar streets, they take note of seemingly ordinary occurrences — a cat perched atop a pile of oranges at the grocers, a flock of pigeons swooping down from a rooftop, a lone teddy bear left behind next to an abandoned building.

For each observation, Eto writes a new poem, to which Kiyoshi responds with new insight. About the oranges, Eto writes:

Hill of orange suns.
Cat leaps. Oranges tumble.
The cat licks his paw. 

Kiyoshi puzzles awhile, and then asks, “Does this mean poems come from seeing things?”

Continue reading

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!

*

Continue reading

something to quack about

QUACK! 

Since spring is Beatrix Potter time in the Alphabet Soup kitchen, thought we’d serve up a blend of old and new, courtesy of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-duck. 

For the last several days, while trying to decide which stories to talk about, we heard a constant quacking in the butler’s pantry. Stray feathers drifted in whenever we opened the front door, and the odd egg or two would appear in unexpected places — next to the toaster, inside the oatmeal box, in front of the clock.

Quite curious, wouldn’t you say?

Well, Clever Cornelius knew eggsactly what was up: Jemima Puddle-duck was jockeying for the spotlight.

Not wanting to quash her quack, we decided to share a newish board book in which she appears with Peter Rabbit, in addition to her classic tale published in 1908. 

A SPRING SURPRISE

In A Spring Surprise, the fifth title in the  adorable Peter Rabbit Tale board book series by Fiona Munro and Eleanor Taylor (Frederick Warne, 2019), Peter and his family are busy preparing for an Easter picnic.

Everyone except Peter knows what they’re bringing. For Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail, it’s blackberry juice, wildflower garlands and jump ropes.

Wanting to bring something just as perfect, Peter goes around asking for suggestions. His mother, who’s making sandwiches, suggests “something sweet,” while Benjamin Bunny (busy with his kite) is in favor of “something fun.” Squirrel Nutkin tells him to “take something that’s a bit different.”

Well, this only makes Peter feel worse because he can’t think of anything sweet, fun, or different . . . until he suddenly spots something small and yellow amongst the bluebells. A flower? No, it’s moving! A butterfly?

“QUACK!”

Ooh, a tiny duckling! He scoops it right up. As he scampers along the path, he sees another, then another and another! Peter knows these ducklings belong to Jemina Puddle-duck, who must be worried sick. When he shows up with them at the picnic, Jemima is ecstatic, and everyone claps and cheers. Peter definitely couldn’t have brought anything sweeter, more fun or different to the picnic. 🙂

Now, despite the missing ducklings, Jemima really likes this story because she gets to do some quazy joyous quacking at the end, and the appearance of her four ducklings kinda picks up right where The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck leaves off.

Do you recall that somewhat harrowing farmyard tale?

Continue reading

the promise of spring, the joy in your heart

“My Little Guardian” by Cristine Mihailescu

Hello, dear friends — Olá queridos amigos!

Let’s celebrate spring with a song. How about some jazzy bossa nova?

You’re probably familiar with Antonio Carlos Jobim’s iconic, “The Girl from Ipanema,” which won a Record of the Year Grammy in 1965, but do you know “Águas de Março” (“Waters of March”)?

In addition to composing the music, Jobim wrote both the Portuguese and English lyrics. With its comely central metaphor, these lyrics could also be considered the coolest stream of consciousness list poem ever.

“At Last Spring Rain” by Gun Legler

It was inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s rainiest month, when sudden storms and heavy winds cause flooding in some parts of the city.

“The lyrics and music have a constant downward progression much like the water torrent from those rains flowing in the gutters, which typically would carry sticks, stones, bits of glass, and almost everything and anything.”

Let the “Waters of March” wash over you with its refreshing, relentless stream of cleverly juxtaposed images, upbeat tempo, and playful spirit. There’s no stopping the river of life.

Continue reading

the enchanting world of Cathy Cullis

Cathy Cullis’s art invites you to enter a world of serenity, quiet beauty, and sometimes, melancholy. Stone cottages and charming homes, cozy interiors, peaceful gardens, solitary figures, and uncluttered still life compositions are rendered in subdued colors or monochrome, speaking of another time, far removed from the busyness of modern life.

I’m intrigued by the people in her pictures. What are their personal stories? Because so many women are depicted, I wonder whether they are content with their lives or yearn for more. Are they extensions of the artist, or characters wholly spun from her imagination?

Cathy is a mixed media artist, writer and poet based in South London, UK. She’s been “a maker” since childhood — a versatile creative who thrives on tactile activity and producing handmade pieces with a discernible personal thumbprint.

Although she studied art and literature as an undergraduate at Brunel University, she considers herself largely self-taught when it comes to visual art, since her studies were mostly theoretical rather than hands-on.

Since earning an MA in Creative Writing (specializing in poetry) from Bath Spa University, most of her energies thus far have been devoted to art rather than writing. Still, her background in literature is evident in the narrative component of her pieces, and how she establishes a kind of regional, historic context for them.

Continue reading