Imagine a sumptuous Chinese banquetwith thirteen enchanting fairy tales on the menu — centuries-old stories of gods, ghosts, noblemen, monks, peasants, farmers, and merchants all motivated by some aspect of food — having or not having it, growing, cooking, relishing, transforming it.
Each tale is served alongside a tempting recipe and lovingly flavored with gorgeous folkloric illustrations (a visual feast in itself), making this literary banquet something to savor with family and friends across generations time and again.
This is the third in the literary cookbook series following Fairy Tale Feasts (2009) and Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts(2013) by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, books that have my name written all over them, as they explore and illuminate the fascinating connections between stories and food. As Jane Yolen says in her Foreword for Chinese Fairy Tale Feasts, the ability to make things up, to tell stories, distinguishes us from other animals:
And the connection between food and stories is profound and clear. Both are infinitely changeable, suiting the needs of the maker and the consumer.
“What would happen if all the poets in the world wrote poems to save our forests, rivers, animals, earth, air and oceans? Wouldn’t that be something?” ~ Wordsworth the Mouse Poet
Happy Poetry Friday!
I’m delighted and honored to welcome back award-winning author, poet and educator Frances H. Kakugawa to Alphabet Soup!
You may remember when I shared her beautiful and poignant poem, “Emily Dickinson, I Am Somebody,” (written in the voice of an Alzheimer’s patient), and we learned more about how writing poetry can help ease the heavy burden of caregiving.
Today, Frances is here to tell us a little about her heartwarming, award-winning series of children’s picture books featuring Wordsworth, the poetry-writing mouse. All three stories, a unique combination of poetry + prose, celebrate the power and wonder of poetry, the enduring value of friendship, and the primacy of the imagination.
Imagine a magical Hawaiian night with a fat, round moon streaming its silvery light on ocean and shore, illuminating a mango tree drooping “with heavy, ripe fruit.”
A mother and daughter sit on the lanai of a tiny blue house that is “tucked under the tree’s broad branches,” engaging in a fanciful dialog of “what if” questions and answers. There’s no limit to little Ānuenue’s* curiosity and wild imaginings, no boundaries to her mother’s love.
What if I ate up all those mangoes one by one, and I got so full of them that I turned into a mango tree?
Then I would bring you fresh, cool water to drink every morning. I’d gently pull out any weeds that block the sun and keep the soil healthy for your roots to grow deep and strong. And I would spend my days resting in your shade so that I could tell you about the fantastic adventures of your great-great-grandparents.
Moon Mangoes, a warmhearted, stunningly illustrated picture book that Papertigers reviewer Aline Pereira calls, “an ode to children’s imagination and a meditation on parental love,” has all the makings of a modern classic alongside such perennial favorites as Mama, DoYou Love Me? and TheRunaway Bunny.
I love the pairing of Lindy Shapiro’s lyrical, poetic narrative with Kathleen Peterson’s highly evocative, color saturated spreads rendered in rich jewel tones. Here is a universal theme presented with a distinct Hawaiian flavor, illuminating the lush, natural beauty of the islands and the spirituality and animism characterizing the native peoples.
When I was little, every so often my father would take us for a drive around the island. This was an all-day affair, where we’d see what we could see and eat what we could eat all over O’ahu.
I loved spotting the lunch wagons parked along the Honolulu waterfront, hoping to feast on an onolicious plate lunch with beef stew, teriyaki, or breaded mahimahi. No matter what you ordered, you always got two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. But usually we’d drive right on by because it wasn’t lunch time yet. This only intensified my fascination with lunch wagons: I thought it would be so cool to cook on a little stove in a truck and wait on people through the window on the side.
I don’t know exactly when people in Hawai’i started calling lunch wagons, “food trucks.” But they’re still a big part of the local scene, enticing the always hungry on side streets and main streets with longstanding island favorites as well as gourmet treats.
“The dragon is a creature of the sea,” Grandfather said. “When it takes to the sky, it is looking for something precious it has lost. When it finds what it was looking for, it returns to the sea in the form of rain.”
We’re especially excited today to be celebrating the official release of Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi (Charlesbridge, 2012). Not only is Natalie a Virginia author, but this is her debut middle grade novel. As I always say, no matter how many books you go on to write, or how rich and famous you might become, there will always be only one first book, with its own special brand of pride, joy and feelings of accomplishment. We LOVE to celebrate first books!
Friends, I’m so glad you’re here to join us. Let’s get the party started by suiting up.
First, please select a t-shirt. Depending on your mood, you may feel like building a kite,
or noshing on sushi:
With all the mouthwatering Japanese food in the book, you should probably put this on, too:
Can’t eat a plate of yakisoba without a good pair of chopsticks. Choose your favorite color: