[Author Chat + Recipe + Giveaway] April Halprin Wayland on More Than Enough: A Passover Story

Congratulations on your new book, April!

Since my favorite picture books blend food with family, friends and cultural tradition, I was especially happy to hear that award winning author, poet, and Teaching Authors Poetry Friday friend April Halprin Wayland had written a brand new story that does just that, and it’s coming out next Tuesday, March 15!

Charmingly illustrated by Katie Kath, More Than Enough: A Passover Story (Dial BYR, 2016)is a joyous and heartwarming celebration of the holiday as well as a lyrical paean to the practice of gratitude.

We follow a family as they embrace the spirit of Dayenu (a traditional seder song of thankfulness), while happily anticipating and enjoying their Passover feast. The two children revel in each activity leading up to and at the event: shopping at the farmers’ market (adopting a kitten!), tasting raindrops, chopping apples and walnuts to make charoset, putting on special clothes, and splashing in mud puddles as they walk to Nana’s house.

Once there, they join their relatives for the ceremonial meal with the seder plate of symbolic foods, ask the four questions, and sing a lively rendition of “Dayenu” (which means “it would have been enough”), to thank God for his many gifts to the Jewish people (leading them out of slavery, parting the Red Sea, giving of the Torah). Then it’s time for delicious matzoh balls, chicken, and jellied fruit slices before searching for the hidden afikomen (matzoh piece), and opening the door for the prophet Elijah while singing “Chad Gadya.” A Passover sleepover tops off the evening, as Nana wraps them in blankets, kisses their foreheads, and sings to them while rain gently taps on the window.

More Than Enough, told in spare melodic prose with the word “dayenu” recurring as a refrain throughout, is a lovely reminder to be wholly present and open to the blessings offered to us each moment of every day. Any one of this family’s experiences would have been more than enough to be thankful for; their joy at being blessed with so many gifts will inspire readers to take the time to slow down, heighten awareness, and express gratitude for things often taken for granted.

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[Review and Author Chat] Samantha R. Vamos on Alphabet Trains

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

 

Tear the ticket.
Load the freight.
Sound the whistle.
Raise the gate.

Clank! Chug-chug! Whoosh!

Alphabet trains.

 

Art © 2015 Ryan O’Rourke

All Aboard, Letter-lovin’ Railroad Buffs!

Author Samantha R. Vamos is here to tell us all about her clickety-clack-cool new rhyming picture book Alphabet Trains (Charlesbridge, 2015)!

Not too long ago, we had so much fun cruising and vrooming through Alphabet Trucks (Charlesbridge, 2013), that we were pretty excited when this shiny new book hit the rails.

Since I’m especially fond of trains (blame it on the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and the fact that I met my husband in London while he was designing a railroad in Algeria), I was anxious to ask Samantha a few questions about writing and researching this 26-track gem.

 

A is for Auto Train,
Load your car on the rack.

B is for bullet train —
high speed on welded track.

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Author Chat: Kyo Maclear on Julia, Child (+ a giveaway!)

Look what’s officially hitting shelves today!

This charming, whimsical tale very loosely inspired by the real life friendship of Julia Child and Simone Beck is cooked to fingertip-kissing perfection and definitely has my name written all over it.

I literally squealed with delight when I first saw Julie Morstad’s scrumptious, I-could-just-eat-you-all-up ink, gouache and Photoshop illos — so many adorable details and the childlike sophistication is oh-so-français. 🙂

True, this book had me at the cover, but when I read Kyo Maclear’s spritely celebration of good food, friendship, fearlessly pursuing your passions, growing young, and never forgetting how to have a marvelous time, I could almost hear the real Julia’s rousing cheer, chirrup and hoot of approval. After all, it was she who said, “That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.”

In Julia, Child (Tundra Books, 2014), we meet cooking buddies Julia and Simca, who firmly believe it’s “best to be a child forever” and are therefore dismayed by all the big, busy, hurried, “wary and worried” grown-ups around them.

Art © 2014 Julie Morstad

What to do? Cook special ‘growing young’ recipes, of course. They whip up a delectable feast complete with “fluffy clouds of cheese soufflé,” “perfect loaves of crusty baguette,” and “a golden compote of fresh peaches, sweet as summer sunlight . . . ” Magnifique!

The big busy people devour every morsel, but something isn’t right. Talk about greedy and grabby! Can the girls come up with another recipe to turn these adults into sensible children once again?

I’m so pleased Toronto-based author Kyo Maclear is here today to talk about this mouthwatering story, her best job ever, and what she’s learned from her children. Put on your best bib, help yourself to some Wonder Seeds, and bask in the joie de vivre. Bon Appétit!

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cooking with aliens: a delicious chat with erik weibel about the adventures of tomato and pea

I’m tickled pink (and red, green, yellow and blue) to welcome newly published author, faster-than-lightning reader, This Kid Reviews Books blogger and budding philanthropist Erik Weibel to Alphabet Soup today!

Eleven-year-old Erik is beloved in the kidlitosphere (he started blogging when he was just nine!), and continues to impress everyone with his consistently incisive and candid book reviews and irrepressible enthusiasm for reading and writing.

He worked on his new chapter book, THE ADVENTURES OF TOMATO AND PEA – Book 1: A Bad Idea, for 3 years (i.e., 1/4 of his life). It is the first in a planned trilogy featuring tiny aliens called Smidges from the planet Oarg, and is notable for its cast of colorful, quirky characters, lively narrative with hilarious rapid-fire dialogue, vivid descriptions, and enduring themes (friendship, cooperation, courage, the triumph of good over evil).

In Book 1, super crime-stopper Tomato, his techno-savvy sidekick Pea, and two other Smidges find themselves tricked, then trapped aboard the rocket ship S.S. Poofy with the evil Wintergreen and his unsavory cohorts. After they crash-land on planet EAR-TH, they must all learn to work together to ensure their survival and find a way to return home to Oarg.

Erik displays remarkable writing chops in this fun, quick read, and it’s exciting to see someone so young accomplish so much.

Yet one question remains:

Can this boy cook? 🙂

After all, he did include a character named Skew in the story, Tomato and Pea’s yellow friend who is a good, resourceful cook. Erik has said there’s a bit of him in each of his characters, and that he loves to cook. You can see why I had to investigate. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And so, my hungry readers —

*drumroll*

for the first time on any blog anywhere —

*trumpet flourish*

Erik the Great Weibel dishes about food in The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, his plans to take over the world, his personal food preferences, and then (*drool*) cooks up two mouthwatering, out of this world, Smidge-approved recipes with his alien friends (including notes and tips). Intergalactic Yum!!

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chatting with author nicole groeneweg about one word pearl

I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to winning writing contests, author and educator Nicole Groeneweg definitely has the knack.

You may remember when I hooted about her team of first and second graders at Lane ES in Alexandria, Virginia, winning the Scholastic 2011 Kids Are Authors Grand Prize for Nonfiction for The Perfect Place for an Elf Owl.

Last year, Nicole’s charming story, One Word Pearl, won the NAESP’s Children’s Book of the Year Contest in the Picture Book category. The prize? A contract with Charlesbridge Publishing and an endorsement by the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation! WooHoo!

Art © 2013 Hazel Mitchell

This past summer, One Word Pearl finally hit the streets with uber cool mixed media illustrations by Maine-based artist Hazel Mitchell. Here’s the skinny:

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