[sweet review + recipe] A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal

Please help yourself to a Pineapple Macadamia Bar

On Christmas Eve, millions of kids all over the world will be leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, and many will also provide a few carrots for his trusty reindeer.

Though my family did not do this when I was little, I’ve more than made up for it since. Any holiday tradition involving cookies is fine by me, and Santa deserves the very best. 🙂

Until I read A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal (HMH, 2017), I didn’t know very much about Santa in the context of other cultures. As an egocentric American, my concept of “cookies and milk” was very generic — a few sugar cookies here, a gingersnap there, chocolate chip cookies everywhere. That’s understandable when you tend to think Santa belongs only to you.

Silly me, Santa belongs to everyone, and he enjoys lots of deliciously different treats (not all are cookies) as he travels hither and yon. Yes, he swigs a lot of milk, but he’s also able to wet his whistle with tea, beer, sparkling cider, eggnog, hot chocolate and wine. Lucky man!

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[merry review + giveaway] An Artist’s Night Before Christmas by Joan C. Waites

This holiday season, millions of families will cozy up by the fire to enjoy Clement C. Moore’s iconic poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

Indeed, many of us know “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by heart, and reciting it re-awakens the child in each of us who still believes. As soon as we hear those first few lines, the magic and wonder begin:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all
through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

Wait a minute. Do you really believe that? 🙂

What if there was a mouse stirring? What would he be doing up late at night while the rest of the house was asleep?

These are the questions award winning author/illustrator Joan C. Waites asked herself, and she’s detailed her answers in a delightful new picture book (the first she has both written and illustrated), An Artist’s Night Before Christmas (Pelican Publishing Co., 2017)!

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Hooray, Hooray! It’s official release day for Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace and Christopher Denise (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)!

Moose is having a Valentine’s Day party, and all his friends are so excited! Everyone except Groundhog, that is. If Groundhog sees his shadow outside, he’ll hide in his hole for six more weeks and miss the party!

Determined to help their friend join them, Moose, Squirrel, Bunny, and Porcupine put their heads together and come up with a plan. But will it be enough to get Groundhog out to play?

This heartwarming picture book by the author of Vampirina Ballerina, with adorable illustrations by Christopher Denise, is sure to be a hit, whether readers are bursting for spring or snuggling up for six more weeks of winter.

As a fan of Anne Marie’s Pigloo and Vampirina series, and many of Christopher’s books – especially his Redwall and bear books (Baking Day at Grandma’s, Me With You), I’m really looking forward to reading this one. How can anyone look at that adorable cover and not want to scoop this book up immediately?  Lovable animals, hearts, balloons, pink cake on the table . . . sigh. I am so there. Get yours now so you’ll be all set when Groundhog’s Day and Valentine’s Day roll around.

*Check out this Goodreads giveaway running now till December 12: enter for a chance to win one of two copies signed by both author and illustrator.

Happy Book Birthday, Anne Marie and Christopher!

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2. Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, a Jedi Master Chef used the Force to whip up out-of-this-world treats. No secret ingredients or light sabers necessary when wielding just the right spatula for just the right batter. Check out this set of Star Wars™ spatulas — one medium and two mini — all with durable silicone heads (heat resistant up to 600 degrees), and guaranteed not to chip or crack. Love the rounded beech wood handles, too!

If you’re a muggles-pleasing kitchen wizard, you might prefer one of these Harry Potter™ spatulas. Whether you’re Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin or Ravenclaw, you’ll be able to create pure magic for those you love (Mrs. Weasley’s fruitcake, a treacle tart, or peppermint toad, anyone?). Mix, fold, scrape, scrape.

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[author chat + recipe + giveaway] Patricia Toht on Pick a Pine Tree

Please help yourself to milk and cookies (photo by P. Toht)

I’ll always remember the Christmas my parents visited us in Virginia and we decorated a balsam fir tree together. Unlike the artificial trees that defined my childhood in Hawai’i, this one was real — it liked to drop its needles but how we loved that woodsy, fragrant evergreen smell!

We sat around the kitchen table and strung garlands of popcorn and fresh cranberries while a cozy fire crackled in the adjoining great room. This was novel for us, but our lei-making experience served us well when it came to handling big needles and long strands of thread. Of course our tree was the best Christmas tree ever, because with shared memories, mugs of warm cider, and a nice collection of handmade ornaments, we had made it our own.

Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and Jarvis (Candlewick, 2017) celebrates all the joy, wonder, magic and anticipation of finding and decorating that special tree. Written in jaunty rhyming verse, this book is well on its way to becoming a perennial favorite with its timeless sentiment.

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[tasty review + giveaway] Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge by Carrie Clickard and Katy Wu

Help yourself to a Joyce Chen 5-Minute Potsticker

 

Ni hao! Hello!

Do you ever dream about dumplings? I certainly do.

In fact, just hearing the word “dumpling” makes me happy. It’s the ultimate comfort food and my favorite term of endearment (feel free to call me ‘Dumpling’ any time). 🙂

Whenever you have a meat and vegetable filling wrapped with dough it’s a good thing. Plump, tender, savory, lip-smackingly delicious. Mmmmmm!

Since I’m a big fan of Chinese dumplings in particular, I was especially happy to see Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge by Carrie Clickard and Katy Wu (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Written in rhyming couplets, this delectable new picture book is an absolute delight, a charming introduction to the Chinese-American chef, author, restaurateur, entrepreneur, and TV personality who popularized Northern Chinese and Shanghainese cuisine in America.

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