nine cool things on a tuesday

1. It’s Poetry Month, so why not celebrate with a cool handmade magnet by Robyn Hood Black of artsyletters? This beauty with the one and only Edgar Allan Poe features an authentic postage stamp issued to commemorate Poe’s 200th birthday in 2009. It’s collaged onto a 2″ x 2″ painted canvas board with a magnetic disc on the back. Imagine Poe’s eyes following you from the fridge! 🙂

Nevermore for Poe? How about a lovely Emily Dickinson magnet, which features an 8 cent stamp issued in 1971?

I also love this OOAK Found Poem mixed media/collage piece. The image is from the May 2015 issue of Woman’s World, and features a lovely lady from a 1915 talcum powder advertisement. Two vintage topaz-colored glass hearts dangle from the bottom of the fancy vintage dark bronze color metal frame made in Italy. There’s a chain attached to the back for easy hanging.

Read more about these items and check out all the other goodies at artsyletters (gift packs, bookmarks, cards, prints, jewelry, etc.). Treat a poetry loving friend (or yourself) to a special gift this month!


2. New Book Alert: Today is official release day for Terrific Tongues! by Maria Gianferrari and Jia Liu (Boyds Mills Press, 2018)!

This fascinating and whimsical nonfiction picture book uses humorous comparisons and playful artwork to teach children the unusual ways that a variety of animals–from woodpeckers to snakes to bats–use their tongues to find food, eat, and clean themselves.

In this nonfiction picture book, kids will learn about the woodpecker, which uses its tongue to burrow for insects under tree bark; the okapi, which can wash its face and ears with its tongue; and the octopus, which uses its tongue to drill holes in shells. Through debut illustrator Jia Liu’s bright, playful collage artwork, readers can imagine what it would be like to have a tongue like a sword, like a straw, or like a party blower, among many other silly and illuminating comparisons. The back matter expands on each animal tongue’s unique abilities and includes information about other fun tongues, too.

Sounds like a fun book on a fascinating subject. Washing your face and ears with your tongue is quite a feat, and I admit I wouldn’t mind having a tongue like a straw: efficient and ecologically responsible. 🙂 Can’t wait to see this book!

Happy Pub Day, Maria and Jia!


3. Another New Book Alert: Book 3 in the wildly popular Jasmine Toguchi chapter book series is officially out today! Welcome to the world Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl by Debbi Michiko Florence and Elizabet Vukovic (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018):


It’s talent show time at school, and eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is excited to show her stuff. But as she thinks about her strengths―tree-climbing, mochi making, collage―none of them feel quite right to perform on-stage. Jasmine’s friends already have a talent: Tommy yo-yo’s, Daisy dances, and Linnie plays piano. Plus, Maggie Milsap (aka Miss Perfect) is saying she’ll have the best talent.

When Jasmine’s mom introduces her to the taiko, a traditional Japanese drum, Jasmine finally finds an activity that feels just right. But will she be good enough at taiko in time to beat Maggie Milsap?

Join Jasmine as she discovers her talent―and the difference between being the best and trying your best.

I loved Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth and can’t wait to read this one!

* Check out the special Jasmine Toguchi Swag Bag Drawing!

Includes silk-screened bag created by illustrator Elizabet Vukovic, 2 author-signed Jasmine paperbacks (Books 1+2), 1 author-signed hardcover of Drummer Girl, Jasmine flamingo t-shirt and more!


For a chance to win all these goodies, simply email a copy/photo of your sales receipt for Drummer Girl to: jasminetoguchibooks (at) gmail (dot) com by April 25, 2018. Earn an extra entry by sharing your Amazon review link on social media.

Happy Pub Day, Debbi and Elizabet!!


4. I don’t know about you, but I am wildly excited about the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. I think the entire world is craving a happy occasion for a change. When it comes to breathtakingly beautiful pageantry you can’t beat the British, and this time the bride is American. WooHoo!

Why not feed your anticipation with a Harry and Meghan Coloring Book or Paper Doll set? Oh, how I love to play . . .

Here’s the Harry and Meghan: A Love Story Coloring Book by Yorkshire artist Teresa Goodridge (Dover, 2018):

Their love captivated the world — now the royal romance will inspire your imagination! The engagement of dashing Prince Harry of Wales and beautiful American actress Meghan Markle made headlines and their wedding in May of 2018 is sure to do the same. You can be part of the excitement with 30 beautiful and ready-to-color illustrations that capture the magic of their heartwarming love affair. Plus, the pages are perforated for easy removal and display.

And here’s the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan Paper Dolls set (Random House — release date April 10, 2018):

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry at Windsor Castle in May 2018. With these paper dolls, you can cut them out and dress them up in their engagement outfits, the camping outfits they might have worn while hanging out in Botswana, what they might wear to a glamorous Hollywood party, the unicorn onesies we’re sure they wear at home in their cottage, and, of course, what they might wear on the big wedding day itself! Mix and match their outfits as you learn more about their whirlwind romance!

So fun! Both items are nice commemoratives for royal watchers of any age. Pip pip and Cheerio!


5. I know, I know. We’re just about mid-way through and I can hear your tummy rumblings. Food, you must have food! Do I know you, or what? 🙂

So, I happily present this: A Cheeseburger Made Entirely Out of Cheese created by Tastemade. Perfectly logical, so much so, I wonder why no one had thought of it before — and there’s an ultimate purpose to this dairy overload besides clever appearance — wait till the end to see what it is:

Now, THAT’S what I call cheesy fries. 😀


6. Pottery Fix: I’m in love with Hogben Pottery! Handmade in the UK, each piece is individual and unique. The colors are just luscious: cream, eau-de-nil, pink, denim blue. grey or primrose. There are a variety of decorations that are hand sculpted, hand painted, and then applied to the pottery (choose from mugs in two sizes and jugs in three sizes).

Dog lovers will be happy to see there are dalmatians, golden retrievers, black labs, fox terriers, and jack russells. Other sweet decorations include strawberry, pansy, sheep, hen, cat and leaping hare.

I’m attracted to the blissful simplicity of this line — lovely, understated, a bit whimsical and classy. You know you’re not going to get tired of these pieces and since no two are ever exactly the same, this gives them a certain character. They do ship to the U.S. (call for quotes). See more here.


7. I’m still thinking about Simon and Garfunkel after writing a review of When Paul Met Artie by G. Neri and David Litchfield a couple of weeks ago. Enjoyed this video of Art reading a note to his younger self as part of the CBS This Morning series “Note to Self.” Was good to hear the words of wisdom he offered at age 72.

Love the personal photos (his son was adorable), old S&G clips, and reflections on singing and fame. And did you know he’s a lefty?


8. Mice, mice, needle felted mice. Who can resist? Recently discovered Marta Pérez-Solero’s creations at her Etsy shop OliverBrie.

Her pieces have a lot of personality and I like the little accessories that come with. Great detail and you can’t help but imagine stories for these adorable creatures. Now I just need to find a wealthy benefactor to buy me one. 😀


9. Finally, another Poetry Month treat: check out this E. E. Cummings Quote Locket from Busy Beez and Chickadeez. “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)” is one of my fave Cummings poems, and what better way to keep this beautiful line close than in a personal locket?

The quote appears on one side, and a brass heart stamping appears on the other. There’s an ivory Czech glass bellflower and olive green leaf on the front of the locket. Pretty, no? More details here.


For our blue song, here’s Linda Rondstadt with “Blue Bayou,” her signature song which became a big hit in 1977. What a versatile songbird! Sad that she can no longer sing because of Parkinson’s disease.






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Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

2018 National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events Roundup

Happy April and Happy National Poetry Month!

It’s time once again to read, write, share, and simply indulge your love for poetry in every way.

Need some ideas? Visit for the full scoop on how you can participate, including 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 26, 2018), Poem-a-Day, and especially for students and teachers, the Dear Poet Project. Check the state-by-state listings to find poetry-related events near you.

Now, here’s a list of what some kidlit bloggers are doing. If you’re also celebrating Poetry Month with a special project or blog event, or know of anyone else who is, please leave a comment here or email me: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so I can add the information to this Roundup. Thanks, and have a beautiful, inspiring, uplifting, productive, and memorable April!



🌺 Hooray, it’s Progressive Poem time again! Irene Latham at Live Your Poem has recruited 30 poets for her seventh(!) annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. This is a wonderful community writing project where a poem travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a new line. Elizabeth Steinglass will kick things off with the first line of this year’s children’s poem on April 1. Here’s the full schedule of participating bloggers:



2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 April at Teaching Authors
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
30 Doraine at Dori Reads


🌼 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem will also be featuring ARTSPEAK!: Harlem Renaissance. This year’s poem-a-day project was inspired by Nikki Grimes’s ONE LAST WORD. Irene will be writing ekphrastic poems in response to some of the paintings created by Harlem Renaissance artists.


🌷 Renee LaTulippe will be hosting Community Collections at No Water River:

This year I asked 31 poets and verse novelists to contribute a poem and a poetry prompt. The idea is to encourage readers to write their own poems (or prose passages) in response to the daily prompts; and then add those responses to the appropriate blog post. By the end of April, then, we’ll have 31 themed poetry collections written by readers.  

Check out the complete calendar of guest poets. Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle will kick things off today, March 30!


🦖 Over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt Forrest Esenwine will be hosting another month-long Poetry Cubed contest.  Entrants must use the three images he’s provided as inspiration for an original poem. Any poetic form is fine, rhyming or not — the only requirement is that all three images must be referenced in the poem. The prize this year will be a signed copy of the new picture book he’s co-authored with Deborah Bruss, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur.

Matt will also feature interviews with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur illustrator Louie Chin, and poet Amy Losak regarding H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A-Z, which contains poems written by her late mother Sydell Rosenberg.


🌼 From Michelle H. Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty:

In celebration of Today’s Little Ditty’s 5th birthday, we’ve invited dinosaurs to the party! Featuring Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine, authors of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, and a party game ditty challenge that’s bound to make you roar with laughter. The festivities begin on Friday, April 6th.


💐 Jone MacCulloch will be sharing student poetry daily at Check It Out. She hopes to feature students reciting their poetry on Fridays.

She’s also once again doing her annual Poetry Postcard Project, where Silver Star ES students send out illustrated poetry postcards to anyone requesting them. Sign up HERE if you’d like to receive one. This is a wonderful project — ten years running so far — I always enjoy receiving my postcard each April.


📷 At her personal blog DeoWriter, Jone MacCulloch will be sharing haiku and haiga inspired by her own photographs.


🤓 A “Poetry is for Everyone” Twitter Chat will be held on April 9th, 8 pm EST (#NYEDChat combines with #WonderChat). @Wonderopolis #poet friends, @Irene Latham, @Laura Purdie Salas, and @Charles Waters will be guest moderators with Carol Varsalona moderating for #NYEDChat and John MacLeod for Wonderopolis.



🎨 Diane Mayr at Random Noodling will be writing ekphrastic poems in April. She’s challenging herself to write a cherita every day based on paintings by female artists. *A cherita is a three-stanza poem that tells a story. The first stanza has one line that sets the scene, the second stanza has two lines, the third has three lines. Diane welcomes suggestions of “long dead female artists” or links to any of their public domain works which she could use as inspiration for her cheritas (leave a comment at her blog or email her).


🌺 JoAnn Early Macken will be posting a poem or poetry writing tip every day during April — and she’ll also be giving away a copy of her book Write a Poem Step by Step (Earlybird Press, 2012) each day!


🎨 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche will also be writing ekphrastic poems for Poetry Month. She says, “I love art.  Art often gives me an entry point into a poem that I may not have written otherwise.  I find art digs deep into my soul.”


☀ Over at The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s NPM Project is “1 Subject 30 Ways”:

This year at The Poem Farm, I will be writing a new poem every day about the constellation Orion. Every day I will highlight a different poetic technique, a technique used by poets and by writers of other genres as well. After all, the techniques of poets are the techniques of all writers. I will be using my Fall 2017 Heinemann book, POEMS ARE TEACHERS, to lead me as I write all April long.


🌼 At Beyond Literacy Link, Carol Varsalona will be unveiling her winter gallery of artistic expressions, “Winter Wonderland.” She will also be writing digital poems with a springtime theme, and will extend an invitation for her Spring Gallery later in the month.


🍅 Donna Smith at Mainely Write will be continuing her challenge to write a poem for each letter of the alphabet based on a Maine vanity license plate she’s found and taken a photo of since last April. She will attempt to write these poems using poetic forms beginning with their corresponding letters. These are a lot of fun as it’s interesting to see the vanity plates she’s collected and how she creates poems inspired by them. 🙂


Look for “30 Days, 30 Students, 30 Quotes, 30 Poems” at A Reading Year by Mary Lee Hahn. She will be writing personalized golden shovel poems based on quotes submitted by her 5th grade students, a.k.a. “The 2017-2018 5th Grade Hahn Squad.” She asked them to each share a quote they loved, and she will use them as her striking lines for the poems. Quite a challenge!


🌻 For a dose of daily inspiration, head over to Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell will be posting her favorite quotes about poetry paired with powerful images (without commentary). Here’s a sample:


🌺 Linda Baie at TeacherDance will be doing a poem-a-day challenge:

My goal for Poetry Month: A haiku diary that may include other forms related to haiku, like haibun, haiga. monoku or renga. I have enjoyed studying about and writing in these forms in past Aprils and alongside other’s who’ve given a challenge in this form. And, I look forward to seeing what parts of this month I will choose to collect in a diary. I will also be connecting with others, writing for their challenges, too, along with other kinds of blog posts. 


🌿 At Michelle Kogan’s blog, look for original poems paired with gorgeous art on flora and fauna, sometimes outside, when Nature permits, sometimes outside when she doesn’t.


“If you truly want to know someone you should walk a mile in their shoes.”

👠 Mrs. Daley’s second grade class is doing a poetry challenge this month based on the above quote, called Take a Walk in Our Shoes. Each day during April, they will write and post a poem based on a different picture of shoes. These will sometimes be class poems, partner poems, small group poems, or individual poems. They invite readers to write their own shoe poems in the blog comments. This challenge was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Irene Latham and other poet mentors. Check in daily at Teaching Tales and Lit Love for all the fun.


🌺 Jena Benton will be sharing a poem and a picture from a picture book each day during April at her blog Of Tea and Mermaids. She will source picture books old and new for this project.


Over at My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi Mordhorst and her second grade class are writing a class poem during the month of April. Each day, one student will add 2 words to the poem. They will have had two turns each by the time the month is over — and, of course, a cool finished poem!





🍩 Here at Alphabet Soup, we’ll continue to serve up tasty poems and reviews of new poetry books with a couple of giveaways on Fridays during April. 🙂


🍪 Finally, don’t forget to check in with April’s Poetry Friday hosts to see what other bloggers are sharing in the kidlitosphere each week:

6    Amy at The Poem Farm
27  Irene at Live Your Poem

I’ll continue to update this Roundup throughout April, so do check back! For your convenience, a link to this Roundup can be found in the sidebar of this blog.

Wishing you a thoroughly nourishing, inspiring, productive, interesting, and enlightening Poetry Month!

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

lettuce celebrate easter with beatrix potter’s flopsy bunnies (+ 2 recipes!)

Spring is finally here and Easter’s coming up this weekend — which means it’s time for a little Beatrix Potter!

Always fun to reread her little Peter Rabbit books and play with the Beswick porcelain figurines that wait patiently all year in the butler’s pantry cupboard. Take us out, they say. Dust us off and take our picture!

Who will be in the spotlight this time?

Hmmmm. Last year we wrote about The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Most everyone knows Peter’s story and its sequel featuring Peter’s cousin Benjamin Bunny, who returns with him to Mr. McGregor’s garden to get Peter’s clothes back.

Potter followed that adventure with The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909), that’s about Benjamin and Peter all grown up. Benjamin is now married to Peter’s sister Flopsy and they have six children “generally called the ‘Flopsy Bunnies.'” We soon learn that lettuce will play a key role in this story. 🙂

It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is ‘soporific.’

I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.

They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!

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[review + giveaway] With My Hands: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Whether you like to draw, paint, write, sculpt, bake or carve, there’s nothing as magical, empowering, or satisfying as creating “something new that never was before.”

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (Clarion Books, 2018), celebrates the joy of turning an idea into something real and tangible with your very own hands.

The 26 mostly rhyming poems cover everything from soap carving, knot-tying and origami, to making birdhouses, pinatas, toy parachutes, tie-dye shirts, leaf pictures and collages. The opening poem reveals the unique power and province of the maker (love the thumbprint art!):


I am making
something new
with my hands
my head
my heart.

That’s what makers do.

A maker starts with
an empty space
and stuff.

A maker
through mistakes.
A maker
must be tough.

A maker is
a tinkerer.
A maker will

A maker creates
something new

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hooked on trevor smith’s crochet sculptures

Australian textile artist Trevor Smith learned how to crochet from his mother when he was just a child. His first projects were baby blankets for family friends and doll clothes for his younger cousins.

He’s been experimenting and perfecting all manner of applications ever since, recently creating imaginative tea cosies, retro appliances, and platters of colorful food. Most of the pieces shown in this post were part of a large-scale exhibition held at the Michael Reid Gallery in Sydney last year. It was called “Cocktail Hour” — retro-domestic bliss with a touch of humor.

What’s especially impressive about Trevor’s work is that he doesn’t use any patterns or make sketches ahead of time. He’ll look at images of what he wants to make online and then proceed with a plan of what he wants to do in his head.

For his tea cosies, he’ll first crochet a traditional cover for the base, then build a 3D form out of foam or wire for whatever animal, person or object he wants to add, and then crochet a cover for it. Finally, he’ll crochet any other loose accessories or finishing details to sew on later.

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