nine cool things on a tuesday

“Baby Bear Counts 1 Nuthatch” © 2017 Ashley Wolff

1. The perfect way to welcome Fall is with a beautiful giclée archival print by Vermont-based author/illustrator Ashley Wolff. Part of a small series based on the linocut illustrations from her Baby Bear Counts One picture book, this print has hand-applied gold accents, making it look like a gouache original. It’s 13″ x 19″ and comes signed, titled, and numbered (Limited Edition of 100 pieces).

Here’s another charmer from the same series:

“Baby Bear Counts 4 Bees” © 2017 Ashley Wolff

Shop for these and other goodies at Ashley’s Etsy Shop!

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2. New Book Alert!!  Look what’s coming out on September 26! A new middle grade novel by Sara Lewis Holmes! Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

I first “met” Sara between the pages of her prize-winning debut novel, Letters from Rapunzel (HarperCollins, 2007), which revealed her penchant for fairy tales, quests, and happy endings. The Wolf Hour (Arthur A. Levine Books. 2017) sounds positively magical and compelling:

A girl. A wolf. A red cape. And . . . pigs? In the vein of A Tale Dark and Grimm, this gorgeously written, endlessly surprising retelling explores the stories and wildness that define us. Welcome, my little lambs, to the Puszcza. It’s an ancient forest, a keeper of the deepest magic, where even the darkest fairy tales are real. Here, a Girl is not supposed to be a woodcutter. Or be brave enough to walk alone. Here, a Wolf is not supposed to love to read. Or be curious enough to meet a human. And here, a Story is nothing like the ones you read in books, for the Witch can make the most startling tales come alive. All she needs is a Girl from the village, a Wolf from the forest, and a woodcutter with a nice, sharp axe. So take care, little lambs, if you step into these woods. For in the Puszcza, it is always as dark as the hour between night and dawn — the time old folk call the Wolf Hour. If you lose your way here, you will be lost forever, your Story no longer your own. You can bet your bones.

*shivers*

Prepare to be enchanted. I can’t wait! Congratulations, Sara!!

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a celebration and a cautionary tale (oh, oh, oh)

OH, WOW! (Icing on the Cake)

Here in this humble blog space, the furry kitchen helpers and I have cause to celebrate.

Alphabet Soup is now officially TEN years old!

To think that when I first started blogging — pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-diverse books movement — I could barely insert an image into a post, and pretty much knew next to nothing about how the internet worked. I did know from day one that my focus would be food and books, but I had yet to read a single food blog.

I think this was a good thing, because it would have been way too intimidating to see all those fancy, artfully designed sites with magazine quality photos — blogs written by people decades younger than I was with ten times the energy, ambition, and technical smarts.

Unlike some others, my primary motivation was not to promote my books or profit from sidebar ads or sponsored posts. I wanted to join the online conversation about children’s books, practice a different form of writing, and build self-confidence. I wanted to “take readers by the hand and show them what I loved.”

Though I had published three picture books in the mid-90’s (when there was a blip of interest in “multicultural books”), by 2007, after years of rejection and the crushing realization that books by and about POC were relegated to a kind of ‘afterthought’ sub-category, I had stopped writing altogether, except for personal letters and journals.

If you hear “NO” often and long enough, pretty soon you tell yourself that no one is interested in what you have to say. ‘Don’t go where you aren’t wanted’ is advice I often heard growing up. Life is short — was this a good, healthy way to live — feeling like a failure every single day? Obviously I wasn’t good enough, or maybe “white” enough or young enough or smart enough or perky enough or lucky enough.

But a writer has to write. There is that innate desire for creative expression. As there didn’t seem to be a place for me in the traditional children’s publishing landscape, what about this blog thing? The only person who had to say “YES” to it was me.

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summer blog break

It’s play o’clock again — time to turn off the oven and put the soup on the back burner for our annual summer blog break.

Mr. Cornelius has found himself a fetching bikini babe and his old pal, Aloha Shirt Paddington, will be hanging out with them. No telling what mischief they’ll get up to.

I plan to read, relax, and enjoy some quality time with Hawai’i relatives, who will be visiting us in August.

Whether you’re traveling this summer or planning a cool staycation, be safe, have fun, eat good food and be happy.

Have a Good Fourth of July tomorrow, and we’ll see you in September!

♥ Love,

Jama, Mr. Cornelius, and 77 Paddingtons

xoxoxxoxo


Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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munching on frank o’hara’s “lines for the fortune cookies”

“It may be that poetry makes life’s nebulous events tangible to me and restores their detail; or conversely, that poetry brings forth the intangible quality of incidents which are all too concrete and circumstantial. Or each on specific occasions, or both all the time.” ~ Frank O’Hara

via Pop Sugar

It’s always fun, after a delicious Chinese meal of won ton soup, spring rolls, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, Peking duck, steamed sea bass, and beef chow fun, to take that last sip of jasmine tea and crack open your fortune cookie.

Oh, the anticipation as you hope for something positive: “You will meet a tall British actor whose last name rhymes with ‘girth,'” “You will write the next picture book bestseller,” or, “You will travel to a foreign land and have many exciting adventures.” 🙂

For those few seconds before I remove that little slip of paper, anything is possible. I hold my breath as I read, “I cannot help you. I am just a cookie,” or, “You will be hungry again in 30 minutes.” On a really good day, I’ll get “You have rice in your teeth.”

Nothing that helps the digestion more than a cheeky cookie.

I’ve always wondered about the people who write these fortunes. Seems like it would be a blast. You have the power to determine destiny . . . or, at the very least, make someone feel good. If you’re a poet, you can take fortune cookie fortunes to the next level. If you’re Frank O’Hara, you can create food for thought that is thoroughly charming and delightful.

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three poems from My Daddy Rules the World by Hope Anita Smith

Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate all the cool dads in the world than with Hope Anita Smith’s brand new poetry picture book, My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads (Henry Holt, 2017).

Through fifteen heartwarming poems told in a child’s voice, Smith captures the singular bond between father and child as evidenced in everyday activities such as eating, dancing, playing music, and reading. Smith focuses on those small, intimate moments and interactions that mean so much to children, and every one of these gems brims with pride, adoration and pure love.

 

MY DADDY

My daddy is a porcupine
with whiskers that are prickly.

My daddy is an octopus
who finds where I am tickly

My daddy is a tall giraffe
who lifts me to the sky.

My daddy is a sea eagle
who teaches me to fly.

My daddy is a wise old owl
who stays up late at night.

My daddy is a big brown bear
with arms that hug me tight.

The poems are paired with Smith’s beautiful torn paper collages that feature fathers, sons and daughters in a variety of skin tones without facial features. I love how Hope is able to convey so much warmth and emotion through body language: an affectionate tilt of the head, a concerned hand lifting a chin, the reassurance of Dad holding the bike seat, being encircled in Dad’s arms as he reads aloud or teaches guitar.

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