nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Let’s travel to the UK, shall we?  We can “visit” the English countryside and seaside thanks to Thatcham-based mixed media and acrylic artist Jo Grundy, who is largely inspired by nature, patterns, textiles and ceramics.

 

 

In addition to acrylics, she uses oil pastels, paper, texturizer, PVA glue, stitching beads and buttons.

Don’t you just want to enter the world of her paintings? Pretty, serene, peaceful. Love the delicate details.

 

 

Of course I especially love how she uses BLUES in her work. 🙂

 

 

See more at Jo’s Etsy Shop, where you can purchase mounted and canvas prints, greeting cards, tote bags, and cushions. She’s also happy to take commissions.

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2. New Book Alert! Just in case you missed it, must mention that The Ups and Downs of the Castle Mice by Michael Bond and Emily Sutton (Bodley Head, 2019),was released in the UK back in September.

 

 

It is the sequel to The Tale of the Castle Mice, which came out in 2016. Ups and Downs is one of the last (if not the last) picture books Mr Bond wrote before he died in 2017. As you know, the 70-something resident Paddingtons absolutely adore Mr Bond, and now that he’s gone, we cherish his final works even more.

Of course, these Castle Mice books are even more special because all of us here are also huge Emily Sutton fans. Her work in Ups and Downs is breathtakingly gorgeous. Do you see those teacups on the cover (why, yes, yes you should)?

Here’s a quick synopsis:

From the creator of Paddington Bear comes a tale of dastardly villains and unlikely tiny heroes.

The Perk family live in a doll’s house in a castle. The castle is their home – but when someone new with devious plans comes to rule the roost, will our family of mice come up trumps?

Full of humour and warmth, this nostalgic tale by Michael Bond is brought to life with exquisite detail by Emily Sutton.

 

LOVE. You. need. this. book!

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[juicy review] How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander and Melissa Sweet

 

For hungry minds, there’s nothing like feasting on a good book, from that delicious anticipation of first cracking open the cover, to devouring each and every word, to basking in the afterglow of a story well told.

In How to Read a Book (HarperCollins, 2019), Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet celebrate books with a tantalizing banquet of juicy words and captivating art, illuminating the sensory, intuitive, and wildly imaginative aspects of the reading experience.

In this lyrical ode, which began as a World Read Aloud Day poem and later appeared on a National Poetry Month poster, Alexander employs an extended food metaphor to mouthwatering effect. Reading a book, he suggests, is like consuming luscious, ripe fruit — something to savor with full presence of heart and mind.

 

 

First, plant yourself beneath a tree or (if you prefer) sit on a stoop like Langston Hughes:

Once you’re comfy,
peel its gentle skin,
like you would
a clementine.

The color of
sunrise,

The scent of morning
air
and sweet
butterfly kisses.

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[lickalicious review] The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud and Milan Pavlović

 

Remember eating an icy cold Popsicle® on a warm summer’s day when you were little? Your lips would freeze as you licked, slurped, and bit into it, the juice running down your chin. And then, when you were done, you proudly stuck out your tongue to show everyone how it had turned red, orange, or purple.

But for all the Popsicles® you’ve enjoyed in your lifetime, did you ever wonder who actually invented them? You may be surprised to hear it was an 11-year-old boy.

In their delightful new picture book, The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson’s Famous Frozen Treat (Kids Can Press, 2019), author Anne Renaud and illustrator Milan Pavlović serve up all the frosty essentials in colorful, lickalicious detail.

 

 

Inquisitive, bright, and enterprising, California native Frank Epperson was born with the heart and mind of an inventor. As a boy, he “pondered important questions,” such as:

Do goldfish sleep?

Do ants have ears?

Do woodpeckers get headaches from pecking all day?

His ability to direct positive energy towards developing his ideas proved advantageous early on. Since inventing required experimentation, he was constantly doodling, designing, tinkering, testing, analyzing and scrutinizing.

By the time he was ten, “he had already masterminded his first invention: a handcar with two handles,” which ran twice as fast as one-handled cars. How he loved whizzing around the neighborhood in it!

 

 

Frank also enjoyed experimenting with liquids, especially flavored soda waters. He “had his heart set on inventing the yummiest, most thirst-quenching, lip-smacking soda water drink ever!”

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[tealicious review + recipe] Mr. Pumpkin’s Tea Party by Erin Barker

On a fine autumn day, what could be better than finding this lovely handwritten note in your mailbox?

You are cordially invited to a tea party in the back garden at dusk. ~ P

You probably know I’m always up for a tea party, and this one just happens to be doubly delightful. It’s being hosted by none other than the ever dapper Mr. Pumpkin, who really knows how to rock a waistcoat and top hat (I could never resist a top hat). Besides, taking tea at twilight is just too tempting. 🙂

Mr. Pumpkin’s Tea Party, a seasonally spooky story and counting book in one, was written and illustrated by Cincinnati-based author and illustrator Erin Barker, who first sketched a “pumpkin-head guy” having tea with a “skeleton person” for Inktober back in 2016.

They weren’t your average run-of-the-mill pumpkin and skeleton, though. They were dressed up as proper English gentlemen, and were saying things like, “I dare say,” and “Indeed.” Erin’s Instagram followers loved the sketch, and months later her editor suggested the characters should have their own book. So Erin developed a charming storyline inspired by her own love of hosting get-togethers with friends and good food.

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[author chat + recipe + giveaway] Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht and Jarvis

Hooray for October — time for gorgeous autumn leaves, hot apple cider, pumpkins and squashes galore, toffee apples, hayrides, costume parties, and Halloween!

We’re so pleased Patty Toht is back to talk about her newest picture book, Pick a Pumpkin (Candlewick, 2019), which like its companion book, Pick a Pine Tree (2017), is illustrated by British artist Jarvis.

Pick a Pumpkin captures all the joy, anticipation, excitement, community spirit, and rustic beauty of the season as a family happily picks and carves pumpkins before going out to trick-or-treat.

There’s nothing like visiting the pumpkin patch on a crisp fall afternoon and finding just the right globular beauty:

 

 

Pick a pumpkin
from the patch —

tall and lean
or short and fat.

Vivid orange,
ghostly white,
or speckled green
might be just right.

 

After enjoying spicy punch and toffee apples, mom and her two kids load their pumpkin stash in their truck and head home, where dad and the baby greet them. They clean and polish their pumpkins, gather the tools they need, and invite some friends over to help them carve.

 

 

We follow them through every step, from cutting the pumpkins open, to scooping out seeds and strings, to carving out eyes, noses and mouths. So many different shapes, facial expressions, and pumpkin personalities!

Then it’s time for outdoor decorations:

Cobwebs strung from post to post,
Rings of gauzy dancing ghosts.
Spiders. Tombstones.
Dangling bats.
Skeletons and witches’ hats.

Now that the scene is set, everyone dons their costumes before proudly carrying their pumpkins outside. Then it’s that magical moment when the pumpkins are lit — turning them into spooky jack-o’-lanterns!

 

 

Its red-hot eyes
will gaze
and flicker.

Its fiery grin
will blaze and snicker,
to guard your house
while you have fun.

 

With the neighborhood aglow, mummies, ghosts, witches, skeletons and vampires take to the streets for a howling good time.

 

 

Patty’s rhythmic, exuberant text is a joy to read aloud and is packed with vivid sensory details that place the reader smack dab in the middle of all the action.

Lumpy chunks. Sticky strings,
Clumpy seeds. Guts and things.
With a spoon, scrape sides neatly.
Clean the inside out completely.

And how I love Jarvis’s pencil, chalk, paint and digitally colored illustrations! Gorgeous composition and layering resplendent with fall colors and textures. You can just about hear those leaves crunching underfoot, feel the chilly autumn wind on your cheeks, hear the happy chatter of family and friends as they carve pumpkins together.

 

 

Just as he did with Pick a Pine Tree, where he included a white cat, this time there’s a winsome black cat for keen eyes to track from spread to spread. Not sure if the cat followed the family home from the pumpkin patch, or if he belonged to them in the first place, but he’s adorable as he balances on fences, plays with the blackbirds, peers out the front window, or sticks his little paw into a bowl of pumpkin “guts.”

I can easily see Pick a Pumpkin becoming a fall classic; it positively glows with fun and goodness!

Now let’s hear from Patty! 🙂

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