(the buzz about) A is for Bee by Ellen Heck

#62 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Just when you think you know the alphabet, along comes a fun and inventive animal abecedarian that shows you what you’ve been missing. 

Set aside the predictable ‘A is for Alligator’ and ‘Z is for Zebra’ books. In Ellen Heck’s A is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation (Levine Querido, 2022), we learn what 26 familiar animals are called around the world.

We speak to each other in many languages, and in some of them . . . A is for Bee.

Although the word bee begins with ‘B’ in English, in some other languages, it actually begins with ‘A’: Aamoo (Ojibwe), Abelha (Portuguese).

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[tasty review + giveaway] Things We Eat by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

#61 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Hmmm, looks like there’s only one chocolate chip cookie left. Go ahead and take it – I won’t tell. 

While you’re busy nibbling, I’ll tell you all about the brand new ABC food anthology edited by our favorite poetry goddesses, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. 🙂

For Things We Eat (Pomelo Books, 2022), Sylvia and Janet donned their perky chef hats to cook up a tempting smorgasbord of 27 delectable poems just right for eager munchkins ages 3-7. 

They invited 25 hungry poets –  both new and established – to write ekphrastic poems based on appetizing color photos of kids preparing, growing, shopping for, eating and sharing a variety of diverse foods. Janet herself penned two yummy poems for the collection: “Kimchi” and “Alphabet Menu.” 

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[review] the abcs of black history by rio cortez and lauren semmer

#59 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

A is for anthem, a banner of song
that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong.
We lift up our voices, lift them and sing.
From stages and street corner, let freedom ring.

Surely there aren’t enough letters in the alphabet to describe all the goodness contained in The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez and Lauren Semmer (Workman, 2020). From its rallying Anthem to its triumphant Zenith, this abecedarian is, I dare say, letter perfect.

Now, if I absolutely had to choose one letter to capture the book’s essence, perhaps it would be “R,” as it’s rich, radiant, rousing, readable, and resourceful. But that would only begin to describe it, because in addition to being an inventive alphabet book celebrating Black history and culture, it’s also a story of strength, persistence, and resilience, a timely call to action, and a loving praise song of hope, creativity, and pride.

Written in lively rhyming couplets, the engaging, conversational text draws the reader in right away by addressing him/her directly with the letter “B.”

B is for beautiful — I’m talking to you!
Your voice, your height, your hair, your hue.

B is for brave, for bright, and for bold.
For those who STOOD UP — even when they were told
to step back, stand down, remember their place.

B is for brotherhood, for believing in grace.

Now that the reader feels seen and validated, the enthusiastic narrator continues by using the collective “we” as she shares the seminal events, iconic figures and big ideas, values, and beliefs that define and characterize the African American experience.

Cortez features visionaries from a wide variety of disciplines — heroes, heroines, innovators, explorers, leaders and role models such as the often lauded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver, Benjamin Banneker, Barack and Michelle Obama, Shirley Chisholm, and Malcolm X, along with lesser known names like organizers Fred Hampton and Diane Nash, and Dr. Patricia Bath, the first African American ophthalmologist.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

“The New Beautiful” by Carla Golembe

 

1. Isn’t it amazing how six months ago, face masks were the farthest thing from our minds, and now they’ve become an essential part of our daily lives? Such an important (and simple) way of showing care and respect for others.

No matter who you are, or what your tastes or needs may be, there’s a mask for you, from disposable surgical ones to different styles of fabric masks in every conceivable color and print, to those with funny pictures or sayings on them, to beautiful pieces of wearable art. With the right mask, you can even make a bold fashion or political statement.

In the beautiful art category, behold these masks featuring the exquisite work of award winning painter, illustrator and teacher Carla Golembe. Been a Carla fan since she illustrated my third picture book, The Woman in the Moon (Little, Brown, 1995), and I can’t get enough of her color saturated jewel-tone pictures, which embrace spirituality, female empowerment, the wonders of nature, and stewardship of the planet Earth. Love the mystical, magical, mysterious quality of her images.

 

 

If you must wear a mask, why not feel beautiful while doing it? Think also of the pleasure you afford those who see you. And of course it’s always great to support indie artists whenever possible. Win-win!

Do check out Carla’s wonderful designs at Fine Art America — all can be purchased as face masks. Don’t be surprised if you turn heads wherever you go . . .

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2.  New Book Alert! Just released August 4 is Jeannine Atkins’s latest collective verse biography, Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math (Atheneum, 2020):

 

 

Learn about seven groundbreaking women in math and science in this gorgeously written biographical novel-in-verse, a companion to the “original and memorable” (Booklist, starred review) Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science.

After a childhood spent looking up at the stars, Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet and to earn a salary for scientific research. Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing nurse whose work reformed hospitals and one of the founders of the field of medical statistics. The first female electrical engineer, Hertha Marks Ayrton registered twenty-six patents for her inventions.

Marie Tharp helped create the first map of the entire ocean floor, which helped scientists understand our subaquatic world and suggested how the continents shifted. A mathematical prodigy, Katherine Johnson calculated trajectories and launch windows for many NASA projects including the Apollo 11 mission. Edna Lee Paisano, a citizen of the Nez Perce Nation, was the first Native American to work full time for the Census Bureau, overseeing a large increase in American Indian and Alaskan Native representation. And Vera Rubin studied more than two hundred galaxies and found the first strong evidence for dark matter.

Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates seven remarkable women who used math as their key to explore the mysteries of the universe and grew up to do innovative work that changed the world.

I’m ashamed to admit I was only familiar with two of the seven women included in this book — Florence Nightingale and Katherine Johnson. Thank goodness for Jeannine’s ongoing efforts celebrating the accomplishments of brilliant, fascinating, courageous, innovative women. Always a revelation to read about yet another female breaking gender stereotypes (yay for girl power!). And what better way to learn something new than by reading Jeannine’s exquisitely crafted verse? Of course, enough cannot be said about the importance of having strong female role models for today’s readers.

Congratulations, Jeannine! You’ve done it again!

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Since we’re definitely in a “spring is almost here!” mood, we’re starting off with some charming watercolors by Chicago-based artist, illustrator, educator, and writer Michelle Kogan.

I first saw Michelle’s work on the cover of the very first Today’s Little Ditty Anthology (2014-2015), edited by the indefatigable Michelle H. Barnes (there is definitely something magical about Michelles). Michelle K. then joined the Poetry Friday gang, and we’ve been treated to her delightful posts every week, where she shares both her poetry and art (doubly delish).

 

 

Michelle is a lifelong nature lover, and her paintings depict the interesting bits of flora and fauna she observes in her various ramblings. She likes to paint outdoors during the summer, either in her own garden or in other nature venues in the Chicago area.

 

 

 

Michelle also paints figures, some of whom appear in her children’s illustrations. A staunch advocate of preserving our natural environment, she hopes her work will continue to inspire more beauty.

 

 

 

Do check out Michelle’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase archival prints, mini-prints, cards, bookmarks, journals and postcards. And of course there’s more art at her Official Website, and poetry and art every week at her blog. Contact Michelle directly via her website for info about classes and workshops, or for poetry, children’s book, or painting commissions.

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