[review + recipe + giveaway] Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Today we are doubly delighted to congratulate Poetry Friday friends Irene Latham and Charles Waters on their brand new poetry picture book, Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (Carolrhoda, 2018), illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.

 

Irene and Charles met in person for the first time at last November’s AASL Conference in Phoenix, AZ.

 

Officially released January 1st, this timely collection of 33 free verse poems explores the sensitive issues of race, racism, and identity with heart and candor.

Latham and Waters channel their fifth grade selves in alternating poems written by young “Irene,” who’s white, and young “Charles,” who’s black, two public school students working on a classroom Poetry Project together.

In the course of the narrative, we see how Irene and Charles, initially reluctant at being partners, gradually build mutual trust, sowing the seeds of a unique friendship as they discover things about each other, themselves, and the world beyond home and school.

They start out wary and hesitant; shy and quiet Irene describing Charles as “you-never-know-what-he’s-going-to-say Charles,” and gregarious Charles disappointed that he’s “stuck with Irene,” a girl who “hardly says anything . . . Plus she’s white.”

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art crush: yorkshire artist, printmaker and designer mark hearld

Not too long ago, when I featured Emily Sutton’s gorgeous watercolours and bird sculptures here at Alphabet Soup, I promised to also spotlight her partner Mark Hearld.

Prepare yourself for even more fangirl sighing and swooning. Though I admire many, many artists, there are only a handful about whom I can safely say, “I love everything he (or she) does.” (This holds true for both Emily and Mark.)

Mark is a Yorkshire native who studied illustration at the Glasgow School of Art and Natural History illustration at the Royal College of Art. He works across a variety of mediums, producing unique paintings, linocuts, lithographs, cut-paper collages, hand-painted ceramics, wallpaper and fabric designs.

He is inspired primarily by the flora and fauna of the English countryside, a deep love and fascination for nature he’s had since childhood.

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[review + recipe + giveaway] Blue Corn Soup by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner

Brrrrrrrrr!

When it’s snowy out, and the world has turned into a frosted fairyland, it’s nice to keep warm indoors and read a tasty picture book.

What could be better than cuddling up with your favorite blankie on a comfy sofa, while a pot of homemade soup gently burbles on the stove? Oh, that tempting aroma wafting through the house. Mmmmmm!

I’m definitely in the mood for Blue Corn Soup (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), how about you? Written by the late Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Teri Weidner, this cozy rhyming picture book will warm the cockles of your heart and send you straight to the kitchen.

It all begins one snowy day when Mouse, a.k.a. Abuelita, decides to make a pot of soup.

Whiskers wiggle. Eyes grow bright.
Mouse peeks out. The canyon’s white.
Snow — she blinks. She’ll grind dried corn.
Blue corn soup will keep her warm.

Abuelita fills her pot.
She’ll make sopa — not a lot;
just enough for one small mouse,
cozy in her sagebrush house.

As her soup begins to cook, its savory aroma drifts around the canyon, making her neighbors curious and hungry. She continues to taste and add more ingredients, convinced something is missing.

Meanwhile, the good smells prompt Chipmunk to leave his woodchopping. Is it sopa? He must find out.

Rabbit, who was drawing water from the well, can’t resist either. Sniff, sniff. Is it sopa? He, too, must find out.

The delicious aroma even awakens Old Bear from his winter nap. He’s a little grumpy, but when something smells that good, he decides he must investigate.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. So of course the first cool thing for 2018 is a teapot. January is National Hot Tea Month, after all, and there are those who simply cannot resist handpainted pottery (who me?). 🙂

This beauty is made by Ceramika Artystyczna in Boleslawiec, Poland, and sold via Slavica Polish Pottery. They have a brick and mortar store in Prague, but you can also purchase their pieces online. They have a full range of tableware and bakeware — teapots, plates, bowls, mugs, serving dishes, etc.

Everything is hand decorated and microwave, freezer, dishwasher safe, chip resistant and lead and cadmium free.

And so pretty! Love their patterns.

Enjoy this video showing how their pieces are decorated.

Check out all their offerings here.

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2. Look what’s officially out today: Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl by Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng (Balzer & Bray, 2018)!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.

But before that, she was just an ordinary girl.

In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you.

Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said, and locked those observations away for safekeeping.

Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library and before long, she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way…and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen includes a timeline and quotes from Austen’s most popular novels.

Art © 2018 Qin Leng

Who can resist a lovely new picture book biography about the incomparable Jane Austen? I’m a big fan of both Deborah Hopkinson (Fannie in the Kitchen, Independence Cake) and Qin Leng (Happy Birthday, Alice Babette). So happy they teamed up for this one!

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happy blue year!

“There’s a certain time of day after sunset when people naturally seem to feel the urge to gather by a fire or a stove or a hibachi or another common source of heat and food, and hunker down together to eat and drink. Call it the blue hour.” ~ Kate Christensen

 🎵 Blue on blue, heartache on heartache . . . 🎶

Remember that song? It comes to mind whenever I think about 2017 . . .

But now it’s 2018 — Happy New Year, Friends!

We’ve turned the page, so it’s time to shift our thinking.

BLUE IS GOOD!

In fact, it’s so good, I chose to make THINK BLUE my motto for 2018. 🙂

Last year my One Little Word was TRUTH. Poor Truth was tested, dragged through the mud, disguised, distorted, ignored, disregarded. Is that any way to treat one of the bedrocks of a civilized society? I think not.

I will always champion Truth, because no matter what you do to her, she prevails. She will always find a way to make herself known.

Since Truth is having an especially tough time right now, I wanted to support her with Two Little Words. I chose THINK BLUE after reading this poem:

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HIS FAVORITE BLUE CUP
by Stephen Dobyns

Over the years — and Heart has had many years —
numerous objects have slipped from his possession,
some were lost, some fell apart, some got stolen.
That cowboy doll he loved as a child,
does a piece of it still remain? And the pen
he’s been looking for all week, where does it hide?
His favorite blue cup which the dog broke,
the green linen shirt that at last wore out,
the Chevy convertible that wound up in the junk yard —
Heart has come to think that all these objects are together
along with absent friends, departed family members
and pets that traveled over to the great beyond.
Somewhere, he believes, there’s a place made up
of previous houses, former gardens and furnished
with the vanished furniture his hands have touched.
There missing friends recline on once-loved chairs.
A cat gone for twenty years naps beneath a burning lamp.
Lost clothes fill the closets, lost books line the shelves.
The trees in front, cars in back: Heart would know them all.
These days Heart’s mind sometimes wanders.
He’s in a daze, he’s drifted off or gathering wool,
and he thinks at such times he, too, has disappeared,
that he’s rambling through his composite house,
sipping coffee from his blue cup, tossing a ball
for a mutt he owned when he was six or walking
arm and arm with a friend not seen for years.
You look pale, the friend says, you’ve gotten thinner.
I’ve been away, says Heart, I’ve been away.

~ from Poetry Magazine, 1999

via Nikolina Mazar

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