celebrating roald dahl’s 100th birthday with a foodie alphabet and an orange raspberry victoria sponge

#53 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.


It’s time to polish off a few tummyticklers, plushnuggets and globgobblers. Wash it all down with a big tall glass of frobscottle and you’re all set (no whizzpopping, please).🙂

I was actually introduced to Roald Dahl’s writing by one of my high school students in Wimbledon. Danny M. (who made good chocolate chip cookies and scoped out a yummy bagel shop in Queensway) raved about a collection of Dahl’s adult short stories called Kiss Kiss. Though I do not have a taste for the macabre, I found the stories addictive and loved the surprise endings.

After I read as much of his adult fiction as I could find, I moved on to Dahl’s children’s books, impressed by the eyebrow-raising irreverence and sardonic wit, delighted by the clever, inventive wordplay and generous servings of lickswishy, delumptious treats. He was unlike any author I’d read in my childhood. There was nothing Pollyanna or namby pamby about any of his magical stories, and I liked his recurring themes of child empowerment, justice and retribution. He made it okay to be a nonconformist, appealing to the inner rebel in all of us.

Whenever I’m asked about my favorite food-related children’s books, the first that comes to mind is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Here was every child’s dream come true — a world where everything was sweet and edible. I want my own Oompa-Loompas, and even if Mr. Wonka wouldn’t approve, just once I’d like to drink from his river of hot melted chocolate.

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[review + giveaway] Alpha Beta Chowder by Jeanne Steig and William Steig

#52 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.


A chowder is a robust goop
That’s more akin to stew than soup.
It can be brackish or divine.
Sit down and take a taste of mine.

So begins Alpha Beta Chowder, a wry, witty, and deliciously wicked ABC poetry book by husband and wife team Jeanne Steig and William Steig. This classic 26-verse feast of wacky wordplay was originally published by HarperCollins in 1992 and reissued by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books last month.

I admit this title has been on my radar for years but I only recently had the chance to read it. Of course I’m a longtime William Steig fan — I still sigh and swoon over Brave Irene and Dr. DeSoto, especially  — but I wasn’t familiar with Jeanne Steig’s work, and boy, have I been missing out!

Nasty numbskull Naomi and her nitwit Ma and Pa (click to enlarge).

Goodbye, boring “A is for Apple” and “Z is for Zoo” — Jeanne’s cheeky alliterative rhyming poems feature a motley crew of odd and quirky mock heroes, many you’d rather read about than meet in person. God forbid you get stuck in a room with Noisome Naomi, a nervy newtish nightmare whose “voice is like a needle,” or come within hearing distance of Coaxing Carrotina and her blister inducing shrill cadenzas on the concertina. *covers ears* 

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i’ll have another cup: rob draper’s beautiful hand lettering on everyday objects

#51 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Today, for your feasting and ogling pleasure, the brilliant work of UK-based designer, illustrator, hand lettering artist and typographer Rob Draper.

His specialties include creative typography and layout for print, branding and typography/lettering for apparel, large scale typography/murals, and art direction.

Love his unique “canvases” — pencils and erasers, for example.

His Coffee Time and Napkin Time series, part of his current obsession to draw and hand letter on discarded everyday objects, are especially cool.

Did you ever think a paper cup, coffee stirrer, napkin, paper towel or piece of toilet tissue could be so amazing?

Of course my absolute favorites are his use of actual food.

See more of Rob’s work at his website, Instagram, or tumblr.

Happy Tuesday!

♥ More alphabetica here.



alphabet iconCertified authentic alphabetica. Made by hand just for you with love, ink, and lotsa cups.


Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

linzie hunter: accidental pigs, uninspired messages and other totally cool delights

#50 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet


Right now I am loving the work of crazy-talented London-based illustrator and hand lettering artist Linzie Hunter.

Originally from Scotland, she graduated from Glasgow University and then studied illustration at the Chelsea College of Art and Design.


Linzie’s distinctive, exuberant doodles have graced everything from magazine and book covers, posters, cookie tins, children’s toys, stickers and stationery to oodles of promotional materials. Her impressive international client list includes The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Scholastic, HarperCollins, Roaring Brook Press, Sainsbury’s, Random House, Macmillan, American Girl, and Marks & Spencer.

Her hand drawn letters have irresistible “personalities” and her zany characters often prompt a double take. I also love her maps and ongoing poster series of Uninspiring Messages. And yes, she’s illustrated a children’s book: A Small Brown Dog With a Wet Pink Nose (written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen).

Enjoy this mini-trip to Linzie Land!🙂

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chalk it up to lily and val

#49 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

All images © 2014 Lily and Val

There’s something wonderfully nostalgic and old school about chalk art. I remember being so excited when it was my turn to erase the blackboards in grade school. Before clapping the erasers outside, replacing stubs with brand new sticks of chalk, and wiping the boards clean with a wet rag, I liked to “play teacher” with my own little scribbles and drawings.

Now I have three chalkboards in my kitchen: one for the grocery list, one displaying an inspirational quote for the week, the third to advise guests: “Feel free to wait on me.”🙂 There’s also another chalkboard in our dining room, where I post the menu when we have company for dinner (it’s fun to “play restaurant”).


No surprise that I fell hard for Valerie McKeehan’s charming hand lettered chalk art, which she features on prints, note cards, stationery, gifts and accessories. Naturally I love her kitchen-themed designs best — tear-off placemats, illustrated recipes, menu boards, foodie sayings. Lily & Val products are quaintly whimsical with that undeniable handmade-heartmade quality I covet, and are available via LilyandVal.com or at the Lily & Val Chalk Art Boutique on Etsy.

I recently ordered some note cards which arrived lickety split — I kind of hate to part with them, but will enjoy sending them to special friends.🙂

Enjoy this little Lily and Val sampler. How can you resist?

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