five, six, seven . . . (okay, nine) happy things on a tuesday

1. First things first! You’ve probably already heard, but this bears repeating again and again and again:

Colin Firth will be voicing Paddington in the new movie!!


I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I first heard about this last week — actually two lovely writer friends sent me a news link within seconds of each other with the same message: OMG! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?!

And I died because I’ve loved Paddington forever, have read all his books numerous times and own 30+ Paddington stuffed bears and visited Paddington Station and like eating marmalade sandwiches and want a duffle coat and give people hard stares and want to change my last name to Brown and, and . . .

I mean, I was excited enough when I heard P was doing a genuine-for-real movie, but then to learn that of all the actors in the entire world with nice voices it will be COLIN FIRTH saying all of Paddington’s lines! Paddington’s character will be computer generated, but as Colin said, “Paddington will have something of me in his DNA because I‚Äôm going to do some sessions wearing one of those helmets with cameras to capture my face muscles, and all that data will somehow be incorporated into Paddington.”

Holey moley, two of my favorite guys morphed into one! Colin Firth face muscles for crying out loud. Too, too much!


One of my friends said, “It’s almost like Colin’s doing this just for you.” SCREAM. Oxygen, I need oxygen! We’ll have to wait till 2015 before the movie comes out. Sigh. And here I thought I couldn’t possibly love Paddington or Colin any more than I already do . . .

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happy may: catching up


Aloha, Friends!

Yes, the cat in the hat is back.

It’s nice to be home again after spending the last several weeks in Hawai’i with my family. Both of my parents are doing as well as can be expected for now, but when you’re 88 and 98, each day brings new challenges and concerns.

While it was very unsettling to have to suddenly drop everything and fly out there, I’m glad I was able to go and be of some help. No doubt there will be more frequent trips in the near future, so if you know anyone who can arrange to move Hawai’i just a tad closer to Virginia, I’d really appreciate it. ūüôā


Must thank you all so much for your support, good wishes, encouragement and advice. Your comments, emails, and surprise care packages really cheered me up and kept me going — proof yet again of the restorative power of chocolate, and that you are simply the best (and most good looking) blog readers on the planet.

Poetry for What Ails You

Though I wasn’t able to blog at all during April, I must mention how much I enjoyed reading your wonderful National Poetry Month posts. In past years, when I was tied up with my own Poetry Potluck, I didn’t have as much time to keep up with what everyone else was doing.

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soup of the day: sea by heidi r. kling!

          Northwest Sulawesi, Indonesia (photo by Viktor Kaposi).

Hai! Apa kabar? (Hi! How are you?)

Just for today, let’s channel Indonesia. Seems like the best way to celebrate the official release of Heidi R. Kling’s debut young adult novel, Sea (Putnam, 2010)! WooHoo!



You know how much I love first books — we haven’t celebrated one in awhile here at alphabet soup, and Sea is just the thing now that summer is here. I can’t wait to read all about fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones, who’s been traumatized ever since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean. 

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soup of the day: mockingbird by kathryn erskine

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

 photo by fallen..angel.

Today we’re celebrating one of the finest, most praise-worthy middle grade novels of the year, Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird (Philomel, 2010)!

It was released just about a month ago following lots of Newberyish buzz, but because of the Poetry Month Potluck,¬†I was unable to serve soup on its official¬†pub date. I simply couldn’t let another day go by without expressing my¬†enthusiasm and full-out love¬†for this incredibly moving literary gem.

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soup of the day: borrowed names by jeannine atkins!

“Can the past press closer than the present?¬†Who is a daughter without a mother?” ~ from “Handful of Dirt,” Borrowed Names by Jeannine Atkins.

Alice Vanderbear reads to her daughter, Fluffy.

I’m absolutely¬†thrilled to be wishing dear friend, Jeannine Atkins, a very Happy Book Birthday!¬†Borrowed Names: Poems about¬†Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters¬†(Henry Holt, 2010), is officially out today!

Though this is Jeannine’s first book of poetry, Borrowed Names is by no means her first book. She’s published a number of collective biographies and picture books about other notable women, including, Anne Hutchinson’s Way (FSG, 2007),¬†Wings and Rockets:¬†The Story of Women in Air and Space (FSG, 2003), How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers¬†(FSG, 2005), and Girls Who Looked Under Rocks:¬†The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists (Dawn, 2000).

Borrowed Names is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.¬†The poems are absolutely¬†exquisite,¬†far-reaching, quietly powerful, and undeniably moving — they reveal a poet with a rare, discerning sensibility and wickedly keen insight¬†who, with just a few deft strokes, is able to paint¬†riveting,¬†multi-layered emotional landscapes.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane.

Focusing on the mother-daughter relationships of three extraordinary women born in the same year (1867) is both highly original and endlessly fascinating. Though Wilder, Walker, and Curie came from vastly different backgrounds and made their mark in distinctly different ways, they were all fiercely independent women who shared an unwavering devotion to work and family. Despite numerous personal, social, and economic challenges, they all raised remarkable daughters in a rapidly changing world.

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