Winnie-the-Pooh and The Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess (+ Honey Chocolate Pie)

Mr Cornelius practicing the royal wave.

Hello Hello!

What’s the best way to honor two beloved British icons with 90th birthdays this year?

Feature them both in a beary good story, of course.🙂

All art copyright © 2016 Mark Burgess.

Mr Cornelius is convinced 2016 is extra special and that 90 is a magic number. On January 13, much to the delight of the 50-something resident Paddingtons, Michael Bond turned 90. On April 21, HRH Queen Elizabeth turned 90 (with her official birthday celebration taking place just over a week ago), and this coming October marks the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh’s first book.

Goodness. This is like a golden trifecta for us anglophiles who are mad for Brits, books and bears! Just so happens that Her Majesty loved the Pooh books when she was little, and the year she was born, Mr. Milne dedicated his Teddy Bear and Other Songs (1926) to her.

What does this Palace Guard have stashed under his hat?

Earlier this year, Mr Bond was asked to write an address for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His “Reflection on the Passing of Years” was read aloud at the service by Sir David Attenborough (and yes, he turned 90, too, on May 8). This piece, a special gift for the Queen, described the experience of life for those born in 1926. Is there any better gift than the gift of words?

So we could say that in effect Paddington has “met” the Queen, but until this new story Pooh had not.

 

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[lipsmacking review] The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and Vincent X. Kirsch

Let’s talk doughnuts. Which do you fancy– cake or raised? Powdered, cinnamon sugar, glazed, chocolate dipped, or frosted?

Though in the past I’ve dallied with lemon-filled, jelly, maple glazed, vanilla iced with sprinkles, and even (gasp!) gotten a bit risqué with a warm cruller or two, my true loyalty lies with the plain glazed ring doughnut, the fresher and softer the better. I live for that moment when you take that first luscious bite and the glaze cracks a bit, sometimes sticking to the edges of your mouth. Mmmmmm!

Tastiest endpapers ever!

Now, tell me. For all the times you’ve eaten a ring-shaped doughnut, have you ever wondered who invented the hole? Thanks to The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and Vincent X. Kirsch, we surprisingly learn that a teenager with a knack for creative problem solving was actually responsible, and that his “aha” moment took place on the high seas!

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[tasty review + brownie recipe] Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng

I’ve often wished I could travel back in time to visit Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at their famous 1920’s Paris salon.

Imagine making small talk with the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thornton Wilder on a leisurely Saturday evening while gazing at an amazing collection of modernist art adorning the walls at 27 rue de Fleurus! Would Alice serve her special mushroom sandwiches, a giant squab in pyjamas, or maybe wild rice salad?

I know what you’re thinking: brownies! Well, perhaps.🙂

It was such a treat to read the recently published picture book Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng (Groundwood Books, 2016). Charming and winsome are the first two words that come to mind, along with sheer delight. This fictionalized story based on the lives of these two expat luminaries focuses on their singular relationship — complementary personalities who carved out a unique existence that brought out the best in each other.

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[wet and salty review] ringo starr’s octopus’s garden with art by ben cort

A year ago today, a special online friend whom I met at my old LiveJournal blog passed away. Though Slatts and I never met in person, we bonded over our mutual love for the Beatles and Bob Dylan. For eight years, we chatted about lyrics, album covers, adolescent memories, and biographical tidbits. As an artist and musician himself, Slatts was the logical go-to guy for backstories and questions, and I greatly admired the many caricatures and portraits he created of my rock idols.

Since Ringo was Slatts’s favorite Beatle, it seemed like a good time to feature this Octopus’s Garden picture book published in 2014. It contains Ben Cort’s vibrant jewel-toned illustrations inspired by Ringo’s original lyrics, and comes with a CD of Ringo reading the story aloud + vocal and instrumental versions of the song.

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Nibbling on Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s A Moose Boosh (+ a recipe!)

 

“Poetry is food for the soul, food is poetry for the tongue. So read a delicious poem that makes your soul feel young.” (ESL)

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amuse-bouche: a small complimentary appetizer offered by the chef just before dinner.

a moose boosh: an appetizing little poem about food to be read aloud just before dinner or any time at all.

If you invite Brooklyn-based author/illustrator and creative director Eric-Shabazz Larkin to a party, chances are good he’ll bring a tasty, fresh-baked poem as a gift.

Keep your eye on him as he enters your kitchen, cause he’ll break out in some very cool dance moves. If dinner is part of your plan, Shabazz will gladly read his poem aloud — a literary amuse-bouche sure to whet the appetite and elicit instant happiness. What better way to set the table for a juicy meal to please and tease both tummy and tongue?

In A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food (Readers to Eaters, 2014), Shabazz celebrates growing, eating, cooking, and sharing food with 40 fun, zippy, zesty, sassy, spirited mostly rhyming verses served up with playful “vandalized” photos. Some, like “Slippery Noodles,” will have you beboppin’ to its joyous rhythm as it promotes some serious slurping:

Twirl them, whirl them,
slop them, slip them,
twist them, curl them,
whip them, flip them,
sip them, slurp them,
chew them, beat them.
But you must use a fork
when you eat them.

Slurp it up, mash it up
cut it up, clap it up,
look it up, pass it up,
turn it up, flap it up,
shake it up, make it up,
smell it up, love it up.
But do not use your hands
when you eat it up.

As with all of Shabazz’s poems, a good read aloud maximizes flavor. Can’t sit still. Don’t be surprised if your totally amused mouth thanks you for the invigorating workout.

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