[review] Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins and Nicole Wong

After watching his grandfather compose a haiku with brush and ink, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?”

Wise and gentle poet Eto answers by taking Kiyoshi on a meditative  walk around their city to demonstrate how sensory perception, mindfulness, imagination, and emotional reflection all play a role in inspiring new poems.

As they stroll along familiar streets, they take note of seemingly ordinary occurrences — a cat perched atop a pile of oranges at the grocers, a flock of pigeons swooping down from a rooftop, a lone teddy bear left behind next to an abandoned building.

For each observation, Eto writes a new poem, to which Kiyoshi responds with new insight. About the oranges, Eto writes:

Hill of orange suns.
Cat leaps. Oranges tumble.
The cat licks his paw. 

Kiyoshi puzzles awhile, and then asks, “Does this mean poems come from seeing things?”

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something to quack about

QUACK! 

Since spring is Beatrix Potter time in the Alphabet Soup kitchen, thought we’d serve up a blend of old and new, courtesy of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-duck. 

For the last several days, while trying to decide which stories to talk about, we heard a constant quacking in the butler’s pantry. Stray feathers drifted in whenever we opened the front door, and the odd egg or two would appear in unexpected places — next to the toaster, inside the oatmeal box, in front of the clock.

Quite curious, wouldn’t you say?

Well, Clever Cornelius knew eggsactly what was up: Jemima Puddle-duck was jockeying for the spotlight.

Not wanting to quash her quack, we decided to share a newish board book in which she appears with Peter Rabbit, in addition to her classic tale published in 1908. 

A SPRING SURPRISE

In A Spring Surprise, the fifth title in the  adorable Peter Rabbit Tale board book series by Fiona Munro and Eleanor Taylor (Frederick Warne, 2019), Peter and his family are busy preparing for an Easter picnic.

Everyone except Peter knows what they’re bringing. For Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail, it’s blackberry juice, wildflower garlands and jump ropes.

Wanting to bring something just as perfect, Peter goes around asking for suggestions. His mother, who’s making sandwiches, suggests “something sweet,” while Benjamin Bunny (busy with his kite) is in favor of “something fun.” Squirrel Nutkin tells him to “take something that’s a bit different.”

Well, this only makes Peter feel worse because he can’t think of anything sweet, fun, or different . . . until he suddenly spots something small and yellow amongst the bluebells. A flower? No, it’s moving! A butterfly?

“QUACK!”

Ooh, a tiny duckling! He scoops it right up. As he scampers along the path, he sees another, then another and another! Peter knows these ducklings belong to Jemina Puddle-duck, who must be worried sick. When he shows up with them at the picnic, Jemima is ecstatic, and everyone claps and cheers. Peter definitely couldn’t have brought anything sweeter, more fun or different to the picnic. 🙂

Now, despite the missing ducklings, Jemima really likes this story because she gets to do some quazy joyous quacking at the end, and the appearance of her four ducklings kinda picks up right where The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck leaves off.

Do you recall that somewhat harrowing farmyard tale?

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[review + chat + giveaway] Aram Kim on Sunday Funday in Koreatown

We’re so happy to welcome NYC author, illustrator and book designer Aram Kim back to Alphabet Soup today!

You may remember when she visited to celebrate the publication of her second picture book, No Kimchi for Me! (Holiday House, 2017), where little Yoomi learns to like “stinky, spicy kimchi.” Last spring, Aram published a companion picture book called, Let’s Go to Taekwondo! (Holiday House, 2020), where Yoomi and her grandma encourage and inspire each other when challenged to learn new skills.

Today’s release of Sunday Funday in Koreatown (Holiday House, 2021) is especially exciting, because it means we now officially have the Yoomi, Friends, and Family picture book series!

All art © 2021 Aram Kim

In this heartwarming story, Yoomi’s Sunday just isn’t turning out to be the “Funday” she had planned. That morning, her favorite TV show was cancelled and because they were out of rice, she and her dad couldn’t make kimbap for breakfast together.

Not only did she have to settle for eating cereal, she couldn’t wear her favorite Funday shirt because it was in the wash.

But perhaps her luck would change. Yoomi was excited to ride the bus with Dad to Koreatown. They first stopped at the library bookmobile where Yoomi discovered the book she wanted had already been checked out. Then at the Korean grocery store somebody beat her to the last hot dog twist!

Dad suggested a different treat, which Yoomi liked. Things were starting to look up until she spilled her brothers’ favorite treat all over her second favorite shirt. Oh no!

Love the Kimbap endpapers!

Yoomi was convinced Sunday was totally ruined. But Dad reassured her all was not lost since they were still going to visit Grandma. Could she help turn things around and make it a Funday after all?

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[tasty review+ giveaway] Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn! by Cynthia Schumerth and Mary Reaves Uhles

So glad you popped in — you’re just in time for some hot, lightly salted (with a little bit o’ butter) popcorn! 

America’s favorite snack — so friendly, affordable, and accommodating — is pure magic. All it needs is a little heat and it’s more than happy to make itself. 🙂

Ever wonder how those hard little kernels manage to turn themselves into a mountain of fluffy, flavorful bites?

In Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn!, a brand new picture book by Cynthia Schumerth and Mary Reaves Uhles (Sleeping Bear Press, 2021), we get a “seed to snack” peek at the process of growing, harvesting, and finally popping tasty, lick-the-salt-off-your-fingers popcorn. Mmmmmm!

In jaunty rhyming verse, half a dozen enthusiastic kids tell us about each step of their special project.

Dig the ground up with a hoe.
Plant the seeds and hope they grow.
Sunshine warms them in the earth.
Raindrops fall to quench their thirst.

They work together, sharing tasks such as hoeing, planting, watering, weeding, and of course, waiting.

How excited they are to see the first shoots come up, as they work diligently to protect their tender green plants, which grow from knee high to waist high, and finally, “past our heads.”

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[review + author chat] Margo Sorenson on Little Calabash

Aloha, Friends! If you’re in the mood for a little taste of sunny Hawaii, you’ve come to the right place: Margo Sorenson is back to talk about her latest picture book, Little Calabash (Island Heritage, 2020).

This sweet and satisfying story, illustrated in vibrant, fruity colors by Anneth Lagamo, will delight young readers who enjoy anthropomorphic characters, lively wordplay, and kicking back in the kitchen. 🙂

It’s Keoki’s birthday, and his mom is busy making some delicious treats for his party: haupia pudding, starfruit cookies, and mango cupcakes with guava frosting. As she stirs, mixes, grates, rolls, and pours, she uses a number of different kitchen utensils and calabashes.

But not Little Calabash. He wants to help too, but so far he’s been left out. Is he too small to be of use? Does this mean he isn’t special like the other calabashes?

Some are not so sympathetic.

“Stop your whining,” said the goblet.

You need to chill out,” the refrigerator said, frostily.

“Quit trying to stir up trouble,” said the wooden spoon.

Little Calabash felt a tear form.

Yet others are supportive and encouraging, like the coffee pot, who whispers, “Perk up, kid. You are special. Keep believing in yourself. You’ll see.”

Little Calabash keeps his hopes up, determined to be used for the party. He’s stuck in the back of the shelf, behind the bigger calabashes. Keoki’s mom won’t use him if she can’t find him, right? So he gradually wiggles his way to the front of the cupboard shelf, inch by inch, paying no attention to naysayers like the frying pan, toaster, and teaspoon, who says, “You just don’t measure up.”

Will Little Calabash’s initiative finally pay off? How does Little Calabash make Keoki feel like a big kid on his birthday?

While Margo shows off her skills as an enthusiastic punster, Anneth fills the kitchen with cheeky, emotive culinary characters who sparkle with personality. Kids will never look at kitchen paraphernalia the same way ever again, not after they’ve heard the cocoa mug, mixer, and colander have their say.

Everything has a face, and the various expressions make each piece distinctive. Kids will love poring over the illustrations to check out every tiny detail. Who wouldn’t be tickled by laughing eggs and chopsticks, adorable marshmallows, and an entire platter of smiley fruit? The can opener appears to be quite friendly, while the colander is decidedly aloof. Even the little cork in the olive oil bottle is grinning, while the other calabashes, in all their winsome brownness, come off as warm and lovable.

Kids will root for Little Calabash as they’re reminded that everyone counts, no matter their size. They’ll enjoy pointing out all the different pieces of kitchen equipment and will likely have a good chuckle over the punny dialogue. They can also find out more about the island treats mentioned in the story in the lip-smacking glossary.

Now, let’s hear what Margo has to say about writing the book. We thank her for sharing lots of personal photos and a favorite recipe from Hawaii. And yes, she has her very own calabash!

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