Yes, that Dorothy Kunhardt — of Pat the Bunnyfame. 🙂 Junket is Nice is Kunhardt’s first book, published in 1933, seven years before Pat the Bunny. Thank goodness New York Review Books re-issued Junket is Nice as part of their Children’s Collection (which features little known or forgotten titles), or I might never have learned about junket, which is described on the back cover as “a delicious custard and a lovely dessert.”
It’s a simple story, really. Call it “inspired nonsense.” Yet I can see why it would appeal to kids and young-at-heart adults.
Seems there’s this man with a bushy red beard wearing red slippers eating a very large bowl of junket. Spoonful after spoonful, eating and eating and eating like there was no tomorrow.
People were surprised at how hungry this man was and they soon began to arrive from far and near just to watch him eat. They all told their friends and more and more people kept coming and coming until every single person in the world was there, including a little boy in red socks riding his tricycle.
“INSPIRE means, Seeing what you’ve done here fills me with energy and new thoughts and the desire to now try to see what I can do!” ~ Amy Krouse Rosenthal (One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond)
About ten years ago, I read my first Amy Krouse Rosenthalbook, her adult memoir Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. It spoke to me because I’m an alphabet freak, and I’d never seen anyone tell her life’s story in a series of quirky alphabetized entries, a free-flowing yet carefully curated non-linear celebration of simply being alive.
I loved Amy’s penchant for cataloging ideas, recalibrating time, pruning memory. She embraced spontaneity and serendipity, indulging an irrepressible passion for making, creating and connecting. In the playground of her brilliant mind, she made the muddy, crystal clear; the cliché, passé; the ordinary, extraordinary.
After reading her memoir, I looked forward to each of her children’s picture books. Like a fairy godmother, Amy could wave her intuitive magic wand and make time-worn concepts and storylines fresh, relevant, and fun. Her joy and heart were infectious, and she had an uncanny knack for imparting advice and wisdom with a light, whimsical touch.
About twenty-five years ago, I purchased a copy of Baby Bear’sBedtime Book, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jane Dyer. As an avid teddy bear collector, I was mad for bear books and instantly fell in love with Goldie and Baby Bear. There was such warmth in Jane Dyer’s pictures, a quaint old-fashioned charm and innocence that made me feel safe and comforted.
I’ve been a Dyer fan ever since, swooning over her work in Piggins, Time for Bed, Animal Crackers, I Love You Like Crazycakes, Blue Moon Soup, the Little Brown Bearseries, and more recently, Oh My Baby, Little One, The House That’s Your Home, and All We Know. Sweet, but never cloying, gentle and endearing, her human and animal characters are always rendered with such love.
I want to inhabit her cozy interiors with their wainscoted walls, polka dot curtains and checked tablecloths, and befriend the adorable dogs, cats, bunnies and sheep dressed in human clothing.
Needless to say, I was over the moon when I saw Amy and Jane’s first COOKIE book. Two of the very people I’d admired for so long inthe same book! Double the goodness, double the joy! 🙂
In just about a month, the farmers’ markets in our area will open for the season. Hooray! 🙂
Can’t wait to wrap my lips around a juicy ripe strawberry, fix myself a crisp garden salad with baby lettuces, cucumber, radishes, green peppers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and dribble some local golden honey on a warm biscuit. I can just about smell the sweet, rejuvenating scent of ripe peaches and the aroma of freshly baked breads, cookies and muffins, and I can picture the colorful bouquets of Spring blooms.
Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub and Amy Huntington, is just what we need to get us in the mood for the delicious bounty that awaits us. Michelle and Amy capture all the tantalizing sights, smells, sounds, and flavors of a bustling farmers’ market with 18 sprightly, sensory-rich poems and delightful, animated pictures packed with charming details.
“If you took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening, listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, you might enjoy life more. Joy is there for the taking.” ~Tasha Tudor
It must have been lovely to join Tasha Tudor for afternoon tea at her beloved Corgi Cottage in southeastern Vermont.
Perhaps her Corgis would greet me at the door, and if I was a little early, she’d put me to work, melting semi-sweet chocolate to fill her speckled cookies. I would happily set the table with her favorite heirloom Blue Canton or hand painted pink lustre tea set, basking in the warmth and charm of her cozy kitchen, only too willing to immerse myself in her 19th century world.
I can’t remember when I first encountered Tasha’s work; it seems like her enchanting pastel watercolors were always part of my read-write-teach existence as they adorned nearly one hundred children’s books and a myriad of greeting cards and calendars. How I appreciated this gentle reminder of simpler times, the idyllic views of New England people, villages, woods, fields, farms, and gardens!
Tasha’s life was a work of art. She often remarked that she was the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived from about 1800 to 1840. Here was an artist who wholeheartedly lived and dressed the part, making her own clothes from flax she grew, raising her own farm animals, indulging her passions for gardening and traditional handcrafts such as basket-making, candle-making, calligraphy, weaving, sewing, knitting, and doll-making.
1. Few things make me happier than the thought of Dim Sum, so this delectable giclée print by Ellen Blonder pretty much gets me where I live. The watercolor paintings are from Ellen’s wonderful book, Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch (Clarkson Potter, 2002). Love the precise detail and quiet beauty of her work.
Also available is this print featuring art from Ellen’s award winning cookbook Every Grain of Rice: A Taste of Our Chinese Childhood in America (1998), which she co-wrote with Annabel Low. Both prints are signed, available in several sizes and are printed with archival-quality ink on acid-free paper. Gorgeous!
Be sure to visit Ellen’s website to see more of her exquisite paintings and her impressive list of awards, commercial clients and projects. Prints are available at her Etsy Shop.
*ETA: Ellen is on a short break, and will re-open her shop March 15.
Since 2017 is the year of the Rooster, here’s one of Ellen’s rooster paintings (she lives on Kaua’i where roosters run free).
This inspiring new collection by Margaret Bloom builds on the success of her first book Making Peg Dolls. With peg dolls at the heart of each design, you’ll discover how easy it is to create toys which fly and spin, pin cushions, herbal pocket friends, wall-hangings, and much more. All projects are richly illustrated throughout with hand-drawn diagrams and full color photos.
The easy-to-follow instructions will guide you through a selection of simple and more advanced designs. Many of the projects are suitable for young children and will only take an hour or two to complete. Interwoven with poems, songs and stories, the projects can engage the whole family in the art of crafting and playing with these magical toys!
These dolls, which come from the Waldorf handcraft tradition, are so sweet and will inspire hours of imaginative play and storytelling. Don’t you want to enter this tiny world of enchantment?