a mixed platter of literary cookbooks for holiday gift giving

Elsa Beskow (Emily and Daisy, 2009)

 

It’s November and the holidays are upon us!

And guess what? I’ve FINISHED all my holiday shopping!!!

Stop screaming, I’m just kidding. 🙂

I know this might be true for some of you super organized types out there. But alas, I’m not one of them. The problem with shopping is that when I start looking for things to give other people, I find a million things I want for myself.

Holiday shopping = Danger, Will Robinson.

Though I may be a teensy bit partial, to me the best gifts to give or receive are literary cookbooks, especially if they’re illustrated. You get the best of both worlds — good stories + tasty recipes. What better way to get families to read, cook, and eat together?

Today’s roundup includes books I’ve reviewed, several from my Wish List, and a few I’ll be featuring here in the near future — a mix of new + older titles. Hope you find something to your liking for the big or little people on your list. Sip your coffee or tea and enjoy!

*

🍰 A MIXED PLATTER OF MOUTHWATERING COOKBOOKS FOR LITERARY FOODIES 🍩

🎄

Continue reading

[review + giveaway] Agua, Agüita (Water, Little Water) by Jorge Tetl Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

“A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, could explain the universe to us.” ~ Lucy Larcom

Listen. Raindrops patter on the roof. A tossed pebble plops into a pond. Water burbles over smooth stones in a stream. Big waves crash onto the shore — foamy ebb bubbles and sloshes, smaller waves lap.

Water — life giver, wonder, miracle.

In his beautiful new trilingual picture book, Agua, Agüita/Water, Little Water (Piñata Books, 2017), award-winning author and poet Jorge Argueta describes the life cycle of water from the perspective of a single drop.

My name
is Water
but everyone
calls me ‘Little Water.’

I like
to be called
‘Little Water.’

*

Mi nombre
es Agua
pera todas
me conocen por “Agüita”.

A mí me gusta
que me llamen
“Agüita”.

Little Water explains how it is born “deep in our Mother Earth,” gradually climbing along rocks and roots through light and darkness until it reaches the surface, becoming visible as droplets resting on spider webs, flower petals and the tips of leaves. Little Water is a “sigh of morning dew” singing “a sweet, tender and strong song.”

Drop by tiny drop, Little Water becomes a river, a lake, an ocean. Then it climbs to the sky, turning into a cloud until it returns “singing to our Mother Earth.”

I love Argueta’s spare lyrical free verse, his metaphor of song and music, and most of all, his use of personification to give voice to nature, a voice that’s endearing, intimate, and sometimes whimsical.

I am one color
in the morning and
another in the afternoon.

Soy de un color
por la mañana y
de otro color en la tarde.

Children will delight in following Little Water’s wondrous journey and seeing the interconnectedness of all living things. They will like hearing Little Water speak directly to them, one small friend to another sharing the secret of its existence, and with personal connection comes awareness, appreciation and caring for Mother Earth.

Alcántara’s luminous, jewel-toned illustrations reinforce the sense of continuity, fluidity and constant motion with their concentric circles and ripples. As raindrops make ever widening circles on the water, we are reminded that even small things can have an impact, as they transform themselves into larger elements with powerful repercussions.

We see many “little waters” bubbling up deep from the ocean floor, entangled amongst roots, flowing through verdant landscapes, tinted by the sunset, cascading down rocky cliffs, caressing the shoreline. Finally, there is the “water bird” described in Argueta’s final stanza, a graceful, blue winged creature symbolizing life itself.

As in many of his books, Argueta expresses his affection and deep reverence for Mother Earth. Water is perhaps her greatest gift, essential to the web of life, as soft as it is forceful, mysterious and pervasive:

I am all colors
and have no color.
I am all flavors
and have no flavor.
I am all shapes
and am shapeless.
I am Water,
I am Little Water.

*

Soy de todos los colores
y no tengo color.
Soy de todos los sabores
y no tengor sabor.
Soy de todas las formas
y no tengo forma.
Soy Agua,
soy Agüita.

In addition to Spanish and English, Argueta’s poetic ode is presented in the back of the book in Nahuat, the language of his Pipil-Nahua ancestors in El Salvador — a great way to introduce readers to a fascinating ancient culture. Here’s a taste of it:

Nutukay At
Maya ha muchi
Nech ishmatit guey atchin

Naja Nugustú
Manéchilguiya
Atchin

In addition to sparking interesting discussions about the importance of water and identifying its different manifestations, Agua, Agüita will likely inspire young readers to write their own poems about the wonders of the natural world, perhaps personifying their favorite parts of it.

Beautiful and awe-inspiring with its own brand of charm, don’t miss this lovely, informative book, which holds special appeal for those who enjoy blending poetry with science.

*

AGUA, AGÜITA/WATER, LITTLE WATER
written by Jorge Tetl Argueta
illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara
translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
published by Piñata Books/Arte Público Press, October 2017
Picture Book for ages 4-7, 32 pp.
*Junior Library Guild Selection
**On shelves October 31, 2017

*

📘 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 📕

The publisher has generously donated a copy of the book for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, November 8, 2017. You may also enter by sending an email with WATER in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!

*

The lovely, warm and welcoming Linda Baie is hosting the Roundup at TeacherDance. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Have you eaten all your Halloween candy yet? 🙂


*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2017 Jorge Tetl Argueta, illustrations © 2017 Felipe Ugalde Alcántara, published by Piñata Books/Arte Público Press. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

Chatting with Author/Illustrator Melissa Iwai about Pizza Day (+ a recipe and giveaway!)

Few words elicit more mealtime cheers than:

“LET’S HAVE PIZZA!”

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Just hearing the word ‘pizza’ you’re suddenly starving for peppers, mushrooms, onions, and olives (okay, pepperoni and sausage) enmeshed in a savory tomato sauce and ooey gooey melty cheese, happily resting atop a thin and crispy or thick and chewy crust. Oh yes!

There’s just something about rolling your pizza cutter over the outer edge of crust and hearing that little ‘crack’ as you free that first hot slice. Then you blow on it just a little before taking your first bite of savory goodness, pulling a long string of mozzarella and gobbling it up quickly so you get it all in your mouth.

If you’re a pizza lover, you’ve come to the right place. Brooklyn-based author/illustrator Melissa Iwai is here to tell us all about her brand new, freshly baked picture book, Pizza Day (Henry Holt, 2017) , which officially hits shelves today. Yum!

Pizza Day is especially geared for hungry preschool munchkins, and is a tasty companion book to Melissa’s wildly popular Soup Day (Henry Holt, 2010). While his mother is away at work, an eager young boy and his father pick fresh veggies and herbs from their garden to make a pizza from scratch.

Accompanied by an adorable puppy named Caesar, they gather juicy red tomatoes, basil sprigs, carrots, onions and a green pepper, all grown from seeds they planted in the Spring.

Father and son wash the vegetables, then make the pizza dough, measuring and stirring ingredients, kneading the dough, then letting it rest and rise. Vegetables are chopped and added to the sauce, which is left to simmer on the stove while they enjoy playing together outside.

Continue reading

a trio of fall favorites: cats, corpse, crisp

‘Tis the season of apples, pumpkins, black cats and twisted tales, so we’re getting our Fall on this week with a three course meal of old favorites.

I suppose one could say this post is equal parts miao, morbid, and mmmmm. 🙂

*

PRIMO: THE SONG OF THE JELLICLES

I love cracking open my Edward Gorey version of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Not only does it remind me of when we saw Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Cats” in London many moons ago (I’ve been licking my paws and prancing about ever since), but of the pleasant after dinner walks Len and I used to take around our old neighborhood.

You see, two streets down and around the corner we were usually greeted by a Jellicle Cat. A fine fellow he was, all tuxedo-ed up for the ball under the bright moonlight. He was both sleek and adorable, having washed behind his ears and between his toes (he knew we were coming). A Fred Astaire of cats, we think of him still.

I love this reading by T.S. Eliot himself:

*

Continue reading

clover robin’s charming paper collages

Brush, dab, paint. Snip, snip, trim. Arrange, layer, rearrange.

It’s fun imagining collage artist, designer and illustrator Clover Robin creating another stunning piece in her Greenwich, London home. With her cat Winnie as companion and muse, she indulges her love of nature and all things botanical “inspired by a childhood of woodland walks and countryside rambles.”

Clover grew up in Devon and studied at Leeds College of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins. Home studio aside, she particularly enjoys being on location:

I’m pretty much at my happiest when I’m working in my sketchbook and looking directly at the scene or subject I’m creating.

She recently traveled up and down the west coast of America, documenting the beautiful vistas she viewed from the passenger side of the front seat. Where most artists would do pencil or ink sketches in their notebooks, Clover collaged as she went. Pretty amazing!

She hopes to tour the Nordic countries on her next road trip. 🙂

Continue reading