your table’s ready

by Rudi Hurzlmeier

Hello and Happy New Year!

We’re baaaaaaack! Hope you had a nice holiday. Other than a little adventure with our well pump on New Year’s Eve, we managed to survive all the busyness, insane consumption of cookies and undue pressure to be merry and jingly and ho ho ho all the time, and now we’re just happy to get back to our quiet routine here in the woods with bears, books, and warm cups of tea.

Like that wonderful bear in Mr. Hurzlmeier’s painting, I’m tipping my hat to you. I’m glad you’re here because we’ve saved a special seat for you at the table. If you please, says Mr. Bear, make yourself at home.

I hope you don’t mind, but we had to make today’s tea with bottled water. That’s because our tap water still smells like bleach. When the new pump was installed, the contractor sanitized our well. We were lucky to find someone on a holiday weekend who provides emergency service. One minute you’re washing and rinsing the dishes, the next minute you turn on the bathroom tap to brush your teeth and no water at all. 😦

It’s good to know you can actually call someone close to midnight and they’re actually cordial and patient and try to troubleshoot with you over the phone before agreeing to come over bright and early the next morning. So we welcomed 2017 without clean water and there was no dumpling soup or any other cooking going on but we were just relieved we didn’t have to check into a hotel and wait days and days to get someone to fix things.

Did I mention one reason the well pump failed was because we had a power outage on Christmas Eve? Chain of events, chain of events. Never a dull moment.

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Book Resources for The Nian Monster

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Happy Book Birthday to Andrea Wang! The Nian Monster (with illustrations by Alina Chau) is officially out today! This post features some awesome resources — a teacher’s guide, craft, and event kit! Also check out the other Launch Week posts for even more. Leave a comment at any of them for a chance to win a signed copy!

EMU's Debuts

Xingling, the main character in THE NIAN MONSTER, is a resourceful girl. When confronted by a ravenous monster, she keeps her wits about her in order to fend Nian off. She’s not afraid to ask for help, either. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get THE NIAN MONSTER into the hands of readers. I heard over and over how everybody loves freebies. So in addition to swag like bookmarks and magnets, I decided to offer additional book-related resources. And, like Xingling, I reached out and asked for help from my community — the wonderful kidlit community.

Here are a few of the resources that were created for my book:

A Teacher’s Guide: Arguably, not every picture book needs a teacher’s guide, especially if it’s fiction. But I felt that there were enough cultural and geographical aspects to my book that a teacher, librarian, or parent might…

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calef brown protest poster

calebprotestimageUber-talented author-illustrator Calef Brown created this cool Kindness Poster yesterday, which he’s generously made available to the public free of charge.

Click here to print a copy for your home, school or library. High resolution images are available in a variety of sizes and formats.

Thanks, Calef!


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

A Declaration in Support of Children

Happy to sign this pledge.

faceofhope Illustration by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Children’s literature may be the most influential literary genre of all. Picture books, chapter books, middle-grade and young-adult novels all serve the most noble of purposes: to satisfy the need for information, to entertain curious imaginations, to encourage critical thinking skills, to move and inspire. Within their pages, seeds of wisdom and possibility are sown.

Therefore we, the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators, do publicly affirm our commitment to using our talents and varied forms of artistic expression to help eliminate the fear that takes root in the human heart amid lack of familiarity and understanding of others; the type of fear that feeds stereotypes, bitterness, racism and hatred; the type of fear that so often leads to tragic violence and senseless death.

Our country is deeply divided. The recent election is a clear indication of the bigotry that is entrenched in this nation, of…

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cornelius meets hillary: of cookies, chiles, and scrambled eggs

Some of you may know we love talking about Presidential Food here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen.

Whether it’s polishing off a bowl of JFK’s clam chowder, whipping up a batch of George Washington’s hoecakes, or wrapping our lips around Barack Obama’s homemade chili, learning about our leaders’ favorite foods makes them more human and accessible.

I like associating Ronald Reagan with jelly beans, George Bush with pork rinds, Jimmy Carter with peanuts. But what of the first female presidential nominee?

I guess Hillary Rodham Clinton can be summed up this way: she’s a hot pepper and a smart cookie. 🙂

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