1. This could be the pillow of my dreams — the alphabet + a pocket with a teddy bear! Shall we pause for a moment of deep appreciation? *sigh* Toronto-based Heather Shaw is the artisan behind the P i’ l o collection of home goods, which includes tea towels, bags, mobiles, toys, notebooks, sachets, printed tapes, shawls, stationery and wall art. Everything is carefully made by hand with natural materials (cotton, linen, hemp, rocks) in a coach house studio with the hope that these items will be passed down as family heirlooms.
Both her home and work space are serene and soothing environments filled with inspiration. Heather creates objects of beautiful simplicity — just looking at her collection makes me feel calm, cleansed and relaxed.
2. New book alert! Coretta Scott King Honor author Tanita S. Davis has just published a young adult novel called Peas and Carrots (Knopf, 2016)! Ooh-la-la — is that the best title ever, or what? This story is about 15-year-old Dess and how she adjusts to her new foster family. Check it:
Dess knows that nothing good lasts. Disappointment is never far away, and that’s a truth that Dess has learned to live with.
Dess’s mother’s most recent arrest is just the latest in a long line of disappointments, but this one lands her with her baby brother’s foster family. Dess doesn’t exactly fit in with the Carters. They’re so happy, so comfortable, so normal, and Hope, their teenage daughter, is so hopelessly naïve. Dess and Hope couldn’t be more unlike each other, but Austin loves them both like sisters. Over time their differences, insurmountable at first, fall away to reveal two girls who want the same thing: to belong.
Tanita herself was a foster sister from the age of nine until she graduated from college. I’ve been a fan of her writing since first reading A la Carte (Knopf, 2008) — yes, a foodie book with recipes! — and then, of course, thoroughly enjoyed the award winning Mare’s War (Knopf, 2009), as well as Happy Families (Knopf, 2012), the first YA novel I ever read featuring a transgender character. She is brilliant at exploring family dynamics and personal identity, making the reader question long-held stereotypes and assumptions about race, gender, and body image. I just started reading Peas and Carrots, which is told from Dess’s and Hope’s points of view in alternating chapters, and I love how both voices ring true with raw emotional honesty. The book has already garnered very favorable reviews from School Library Journal, PW, and Kirkus. Check out Tanita’s guest posts at Stacked Books and John Scalzi’s Big Idea, her Five Questions interview at The Horn Book, and her YA Open Mic contribution at Barnes & Noble.