[review] A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada by Jorge Argueta and Elizabeth Gómez

Art by Elizabeth Gómez

 

SOUP OF STARS

Many nights
we would go to bed
without eating

We would look up
at the stars —
the stars were our soup

 

I first became acquainted with Jorge Argueta’s work through his delectable cooking poem books (Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup, Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding, Guacamole, Tamalitos, Salsa). Of course it felt like he had written these books just for me — how could I resist the playful language, mouthwatering imagery, and charming magical realism? Each poem, a spirited, sensory feast with a lasting, distinctive flavor, made me hunger for more.

 

Jorge is one of the original Alphabet Soup Poetry hotTEAS!

 

Two years ago, I discovered another dimension of Jorge’s brilliance when he wrote about the heart-wrenching plight of Central American migrant families in Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood Books, 2016). Winner of the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, these poems express the child immigrant’s point of view and show how an arduous journey marked by danger and uncertainty is also a testament to courage, hope, resilience, and optimism.

 

Continue reading

[review + recipe] All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

When I was nine, there was nothing I wanted more than to belong to the All-of-a-Kind Family.

I loved the idea of having four sisters, all of us wearing our white pinafores as we traipsed to the library Friday afternoons and spent our pennies for treats on Rivington Street. Would I get a warm sweet potato like Ella, hot chick peas like Sarah, or candied fruit on sticks like Charlotte and Gertie? I don’t think I’d opt for a fat, juicy sour pickle like Henny did. 🙂

I’m guessing most of us who loved Sydney Taylor’s classic AOAKF books imagined ourselves as one of these girls, perhaps the one closest to our own age. But since we got to know them all so well, we were probably able to find parts of ourselves in each of them.

Months ago, when I first learned that Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky were publishing a new picture book based on Taylor’s series, I reread all five books and fell in love with them all over again. So wonderful to feel the comforting embrace of this close-knit family and immerse myself in their turn-of-the-century world. I was once again charmed and captivated by Taylor’s writing, appreciating anew her ability to speak of and to a child’s heart with such candor and truth.

But I did wonder how Emily and Paul would be able to create the same kind of magic in a 40-page picture book. I needn’t have worried. I love All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. In fact, it’s my favorite food-related picture book of 2018!

Continue reading

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Don’t forget to vote in today’s critical midterm elections!

This cool poster was created by Missouri artist Mary Engelbreit and is available as a free download from her official website. The image fits on an 11″ x 17″ size sheet.

*

2. Some of you may know that my mother served in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII. She was one of the first 59 women from Hawai’i to enlist (she wrote about her experiences in this short chronology).

Just so happens Maryland author Ann McCallum read my post about Margaret not too long ago and asked to include her in a new book she was writing about women in the U.S. Army. This past summer, I shared more information and photos via email with Ann, who wrote a chapter about Margaret.

Ann recently shared the final cover of the book on social media — what a surprise to see Margaret’s photo right on the front! I know my mother would be thrilled and amazed. Women Heroes of the U.S. Army will be published in July 2019 — can’t wait to see it! Pretty cool, no? 🙂

*

3. Speaking of notable women, check out this cool print by Massachusetts illustrator Karen Hallion. Her first “She Series” collage features these 9 kickass role models:

Wonder Woman
Rey from Star Wars
Mulan
Moana
Princess Leia
Anne of Green Gables
Angelica Schulyer from the musical Hamilton
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Okoye from Black Panther

You can purchase this 11″ x 14″ open edition print at Karen’s Etsy Shop — a great place to browse, especially if you’re a Star Wars, Harry Potter, Buffy or steampunk fan. Each of these female heroes is also available separately as small 8″ x 10″ signed Lustre prints.

*

Continue reading

[spooky review + giveaway] Monster School by Kate Coombs and Lee Gatlin

Twilight’s here.
The death bell rings.
Everyone knows what
the death bell brings . . .

It’s time for class. You’re in the place
where goblins wail and zombies drool.

 

Welcome, you’re just in time.

Monster School is in session — come right in and meet the gang!

These just might be the scariest, spookiest students ever — a class where nobody blinks twice about the odd hairy eyeball on the floor or having a teacher who’s a screaming banshee.

Strangely enough, when you read about them, these spirited scholars seem to feel freakishly familiar. 🙂

In her newest children’s book Monster School (Chronicle Books, 2018), poetry wizard Kate Coombs has conjured up 18 fangtastic poems just perfect for some Halloweenish fun. Illustrated by Georgia cartoonist Lee Gatlin (who professes to love drawing monsters most of all), this cauldron of creepiness will cast you under its spell and tickle your skeletal funny bone.

Written in a variety of poetic forms, the mostly rhyming poems introduce us to some very interesting pupils, two weird teachers, and one voracious class pet.

Take “Fernanda Kabul” (please) — she has a way of instilling dread at the mere mention of her name. Part brat, part bully, and a vengeful liar, this “terrible, heartless” dressed-all-in-black “princess of hex” thrives on terrorizing her classmates:

One time Josh was laughing at something I said
and she thought he was laughing at her.
By the time she was finished he wasn’t a kid:
He was three inches long. He was covered with fur.

Continue reading

[review + giveaway] Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora and Raul Colón

If ever there was a book that wholly lived up to the promise of its title, Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora and Raul Colón (Lee and Low, 2018) is certainly it.

Every bit of this ebullient fourteen poem collection is pure, unabashed, glorious, spirit-lifting joy. Celebrating the rewards and pleasures of reading and sharing good books, as well as exercising one’s creative muscle to write original poems, it’s the perfect way to get kids excited about the wonder, beauty, and infinite possibilities of words.

Bookworms, word collectors, library lovers, literacy advocates, and budding poets will find much to love in Mora’s lyrical, open-hearted poems and Colón’s stunning, beautifully rendered illustrations. This is the third collaboration by this esteemed, multi-award winning Latinx team (Tomás and the Library Lady, Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart), and they’re in perfect sync here.

I confess Mora had me with her opening poem — a simple declaration of how vital and nourishing books can be:

BOOKS AND ME

We belong
together,
books and me,
like toast and jelly
o queso y tortillas.
Delicious! ¡Delicioso!
Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.

Continue reading