[review] Viento, Vientito/Wind, Little Wind by Jorge Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

Can you feel it gently brush across your cheek? See how it tickles flower petals. Listen for the quiet rustling of leaves. Wind.

Mi nombre es Viento
pero todos me conocen
por Vientito.

My name is Wind
but everyone knows me
as Little Wind.

In Viento, Vientito/Wind, Little Wind (Piñata Books, 2022), award winning poet Jorge Argueta celebrates the power and movement of air from the perspective of a playful child, who after introducing himself, proudly declares:

Nazco por todos lados
y voy a todos lados
de nuestra Madre Tierra.

I am born everywhere
and I go all
around our Mother Earth.

Little Wind explains he can be a swift and happy ‘hummingbird’ wind; ‘zummming’ here and there, but just as quickly, not be anywhere. Still, he’s everywhere – he comes, he stays, he goes.

Little Wind is mysterious too. You can’t see or touch him, but you can feel him. And he has many other names: “north wind,” “draft,” “breeze,” “gale,” and the more worrying “hurricane” or “tornado.”

There are so many things Little Wind can do – become a “Quetzalcóatl Wind,” a river Wind, traveling in serpentine trails, twisting and tangling, rising and falling, zummming as he draws near then speeds off. Can you hear him singing “through valleys and mountains, towns and cities”?

Continue reading

[clucky review] Eggs from Red Hen Farm by Monica Wellington

What do crêpes, soufflés, frittatas, and quiches have in common? Why, yes, they’re all made with eggs!

Unless they’re from a family that raises chickens, many kids see eggs in the fridge or grocery store without ever considering where they came from. 

In Monica Wellington’s brand new interactive picture book, Eggs From Red Hen Farm: Farm to Table with Mazes and Maps (Holiday House, 2022), young readers are invited to tag along as two happy young farmers take their eggs to market. 

The story opens with Ruby and Ned collecting eggs from their hen house. After they sort and count the eggs, they load them onto their red truck. Off they go, “past the ponies, the fire station, and the bulldozer, to the farmers’ market.”

Continue reading

[sticky review] Paddington’s Easter Egg Hunt by Michael Bond and Karen Jankel, with art by R.W. Alley

Guess what?! The Easter Bunny left a surprise on our doorstep – a brand new Paddington Bear picture book! WooHoo!

Needless to say, all the furry Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers, especially the 70-something resident Paddingtons, are simply beside themselves. After several jubilant paw pumps and back flips, they cartwheeled from room to room before finally settling down long enough to actually crack open the book.

This new story is a welcome treasure, truly a rare gift for all Paddington fans, since dear Mr Bond passed away in 2017 (and we’ve all missed him terribly). But. It seems his agent discovered an old story Mr Bond had written with his daughter Karen Jankel for a charity newsletter back in 1995. Why not turn it into a picture book?

So Paddington illustrator extraordinaire R.W. Alley created some brand new illustrations, and, I must say, he’s really outdone himself. 🙂

In this toothsome tale, Paddington’s organizing an Easter Egg Hunt for his neighborhood’s fundraising extravaganza. Much to his dismay, the chocolate eggs he wanted to buy from the supermarket are sold out. After checking a boutique shop down the road, he learns their eggs are too expensive. “They cost fifteen pounds each?” – and that was for the smallest egg. He needs at least 20. Activate hard stare.

What to do? 

Continue reading

[tasty review + giveaway] Things We Eat by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

#61 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Hmmm, looks like there’s only one chocolate chip cookie left. Go ahead and take it – I won’t tell. 

While you’re busy nibbling, I’ll tell you all about the brand new ABC food anthology edited by our favorite poetry goddesses, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. 🙂

For Things We Eat (Pomelo Books, 2022), Sylvia and Janet donned their perky chef hats to cook up a tempting smorgasbord of 27 delectable poems just right for eager munchkins ages 3-7. 

They invited 25 hungry poets –  both new and established – to write ekphrastic poems based on appetizing color photos of kids preparing, growing, shopping for, eating and sharing a variety of diverse foods. Janet herself penned two yummy poems for the collection: “Kimchi” and “Alphabet Menu.” 

Continue reading

[tuneful review] Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music by Willie Nelson & Bobbie Nelson

“We had so little money but so much love.” ~ Bobbie Nelson

As a longtime Willie Nelson fan, I was especially pleased to learn that he and his older sister Bobbie had published their first ever children’s book last fall. 

Co-written by Texas children’s author Chris Barton and illustrated by Kyung Eun Han, Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music (Doubleday BFYR, 2021), is a picture book adaptation based on the Nelsons’ joint memoir, Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band (Random House, 2020).

Though much had already been written by and about Willie, the memoir was essentially the first time folks got to hear from and learn about Bobbie, who officially became Willie’s bandmate in 1973. Now, with this new picture book, Willie and Bobbie tell the moving story of their childhood, as they forged an unbreakable bond through their shared love of music.

With alternating perspectives, brother and sister have seamlessly woven a narrative of two distinct voices in lyrical and spiritual harmony.

As Bobbie says, “Family and music have been one and the same ever since Mama Nelson placed my hands on the keys of a piano, and Daddy Nelson put a guitar in Brother’s arms. Music has been our way of feeling, giving, and receiving love. It sustains us to this day.”

Willie and Bobbie’s grandparents, Mama and Daddy Nelson, taught music in Arkansas before moving to Texas.

Willie and Bobbie were raised by their grandparents during the hardscrabble Depression years in the small town of Abbott, Texas. Daddy Nelson was a blacksmith, and Mama Nelson tended the home and worked in the fields picking cotton and corn. 

Continue reading