[review + giveaway] Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora and Raul Colón

If ever there was a book that wholly lived up to the promise of its title, Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora and Raul Colón (Lee and Low, 2018) is certainly it.

Every bit of this ebullient fourteen poem collection is pure, unabashed, glorious, spirit-lifting joy. Celebrating the rewards and pleasures of reading and sharing good books, as well as exercising one’s creative muscle to write original poems, it’s the perfect way to get kids excited about the wonder, beauty, and infinite possibilities of words.

Bookworms, word collectors, library lovers, literacy advocates, and budding poets will find much to love in Mora’s lyrical, open-hearted poems and Colón’s stunning, beautifully rendered illustrations. This is the third collaboration by this esteemed, multi-award winning Latinx team (Tomás and the Library Lady, Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart), and they’re in perfect sync here.

I confess Mora had me with her opening poem — a simple declaration of how vital and nourishing books can be:

BOOKS AND ME

We belong
together,
books and me,
like toast and jelly
o queso y tortillas.
Delicious! ¡Delicioso!
Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Now you see her, now you don’t. Peruvian-born, Philadelphia-based camouflage artist Cecilia Paredes creates extraordinary “photo performances” using her own body as part of the canvas.

She blends in with beautiful patterned backgrounds by painting her own skin (sometimes her entire body), or wearing painted clothing that will allow her to disappear/reappear.

Such precise, tedious work to transfer all the details onto a three dimensional surface! Cecilia was initially inspired to begin this photographic series because of her constant relocation, using the body as part of the intended landscape. How do we adjust to our new surroundings? How do we fit in?

Her artist statement:

Part of what makes us human is our ability to see beyond the narrow door through which we enter the world—to grow beyond the culture of our birth by recognizing other cultures, other patterns of life. Yet our birth culture is always imprinted upon us; the mystery of identity is never fully resolved. We are always from a time and place to which we can never return.

We continue to marvel as she explores themes of self identity, belonging, displacement, invisibility/visibility, emotional interiors, and body politics. Her striking, thought-provoking pieces certainly encompass self reflection as well as social commentary. Coincidentally, her last name, “Paredes,” means “Walls” in Spanish. Some of her pieces are for sale here.

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2. You may know I’m a longtime fan of Salley Mavor’s exquisite fabric relief artwork. I religiously follow her Facebook updates and blog to see what she’s currently working on, and am constantly awed and amazed by her creativity and productivity. For the last year, she’s been working on a stop-motion animation movie called “Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free.” She hopes to release it this summer. Can’t wait!

from In the Heart (2001)

Meanwhile, just wanted to give you the heads up in case you weren’t aware that in addition to notecards, posters, and prints, Salley has autographed books for sale in her Etsy Shop, Wee Folk Studio. Both of her Felt Wee Folk craft books as well as two picture books, In the Heart and Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, are currently available. Wonderful gifts and keepsakes!

In the Heart (2001)

 

from Pocketful of Posies (2010)

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3. March is a very good month for poet, author and educator Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. She has two new books being released!

Dreaming of You, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt (Boyds Mills Press 2018) just came out on March 6:

This soothing bedtime story explores the question, When animals sleep, what do they see in their dreams? The lyrical text tells readers that chipmunks dream of digging deep burrows, puppies dream of long, waggy walks, and horses dream of wild, windy rides. But most of all, the animals dream of all the fun and adventure the next day will bring. The gentle rhymes and gorgeous, serene illustrations combine to create a comforting story perfect for transitioning from a busy day to being tucked in peacefully at night.

Dreaming of You has already earned a *starred review* from Kirkus, who described it as, “sweetly imaginative, linguistically rich, and featuring enlivening vocabulary with lots of active verbs and new and interesting nouns and adjectives.”

 

And, on March 27, With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (Clarion Books, 2018) will officially hit shelves:

Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud.

With My Hands is an inspiring invitation to tap into creativity and enjoy the hands-on energy that comes from making things.

I’m looking forward to featuring both books in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. 🙂

Double Congratulations to Amy!!

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4. I don’t know. There’s just something about these fruity pencil cases. I was big on pencil cases in grade school and still lament the loss of my shiny royal blue one. These colorful cuties are so cheery I’m sure my pens and pencils would enjoy hanging out in them. 🙂

They’re about 8 inches long and made of bicast leather. Get yours here. Fun! :).

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5. Tune into some good grub: Eat Like a Rock Star: 100 Recipes from Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Greatest by Mark Bego (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017)!

Who knew that Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones) makes an amazing Lamb Chops with Endive and Blue Cheese Salad, that Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers) loves Pasta with Ham and Parmesan Cheese, or that Boz Scaggs eats Tuscan Grilled Chicken?

With more than a hundred recipes from seven decades of rock ‘n’ roll, pop, country, RnB, and disco, Mark Bego, along with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, gathers beloved recipes from legendary rocker friends and invites the ultimate music fan to put on an apron and join them at the table. Featuring each rock star’s biography, their favorite recipe, and other fun facts, Eat Like a Rock Star is a must-have for every die-hard rocker-at-heart who loves to eat.

There is nowhere else you will find Ray Parker Jr.’s Salmon and Eggs, Joey Fatone’s (NSYNC) Rice Balls, Micky Dolenz’s (The Monkees) Micky ‘D’ Cocktail, and Angela Bowie’s (David Bowie’s ex-wife’s) Rosti Hash Brown Potatoes all in one book. Whether it’s brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert, learn to cook:

• Michelle Phillips’s (The Mamas & The Papas) Organic Lemon Chicken
• Lou Christie’s Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes
• Marilyn McCoo’s (The 5th Dimension) Leg of Lamb
• Glen Campbell’s Favorite Mexican Chicken Casserole
• Sarah Dash’s (Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles) Peach Cobbler, and more!

With a section on head-spinning cocktails, full menu suggestions, as well as author Mark Bego’s own culinary concoctions such as Spicy Szechuan Sesame Noodles and Boozy Banana Cream Pie, look no further for the all-in-one cooking and rock ‘n’ roll companion. As Martha Reeves says about her Smoked Turkey Necks & Lima Beans, “Honey, this is real soul food!”

Okay, I may just pass on the smoked turkey necks but this book sounds like a hoot. Even if I never make any of the recipes, I’m curious to know what these music types like to cook and eat.

You may be wondering who Mark Bego is. He’s written and co-written many pop and country music and showbiz biographies — hence the access to personal recipes from these celebrities. Since Skyhorse Publishing also published Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls (2016),  I’m hoping this one will be just as good.

“California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day . . . ”

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6. You’re hungry now? Well, what a surprise. Take a little time to enjoy this wonderful “Storymakers in the Kitchen” Kidlit TV video featuring Aram Kim making kimchi pancakes with Rocco Staino. You may remember we interviewed Aram shortly after No Kimchi for Me was published last summer. Put a little spice in your day! Hooray for Aram!

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7.  Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Lieke van der Vorst’s work online and fell in love. I admit her food and bear illustrations were the first to catch my eye, but as I explored further, I noticed how calm and peaceful her art in general made me feel.

Lieke hails from the Netherlands, is a nature lover, and draws inspiration from everyday life. In a recent interview, she was asked if there is a message she wishes to convey through her art.

That people should start [to] listen, to themselves, their bodies and nature. It would be so nice if we can all live together without hurting any living thing.

Love her focus on the interconnectedness of all living things, as well as how she blends whimsy/fantasy with reality.

Check out her Liekeland Shop, where she sells prints, cards, and bags.

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8. You know me, I need my pottery fix. Been following Nancy Gardner Ceramics for awhile. Nancy is an award winning potter from Illinois who’s been collaborating with her partner Burton Isenstein since 1988.

They produce one-of-a-kind, hand-built and hand decorated pieces, works of art that are meant to be used and enjoyed (the glaze they use is food safe and water tight).

 

Their work is inspired by historical and contemporary pottery forms, textiles, paintings and illustration. I like the whimsy and quirkiness. See more at their official website and Etsy Shop. Happy stuff!

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9. Finally, a hedgehog. This little guy called out to me recently. Just sitting there, all balled up, not demanding anything of anyone — adorable and cozy. Just a lump. Check him out at GladoArt, along with other needle felt animals made by Olga Gladkaya of the Ukraine.

Would you like to adopt this little friend? 🙂

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Mustn’t forget our blue song.  Here’s a tune courtesy of the wayback time machine. I think I was in utero when it first came out :D, but I remember hearing it on the radio all the time in grade school. Until I saw this video, I never knew what Jimmy Clanton looked like.

 

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THINK BLUE

BE KIND

DON’T LOSE HOPE

HAVE A GOOD WEEK!


*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no cost to you). Thanks for your support!

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

a mixed platter of literary cookbooks for holiday gift giving

Elsa Beskow (Emily and Daisy, 2009)

 

It’s November and the holidays are upon us!

And guess what? I’ve FINISHED all my holiday shopping!!!

Stop screaming, I’m just kidding. 🙂

I know this might be true for some of you super organized types out there. But alas, I’m not one of them. The problem with shopping is that when I start looking for things to give other people, I find a million things I want for myself.

Holiday shopping = Danger, Will Robinson.

Though I may be a teensy bit partial, to me the best gifts to give or receive are literary cookbooks, especially if they’re illustrated. You get the best of both worlds — good stories + tasty recipes. What better way to get families to read, cook, and eat together?

Today’s roundup includes books I’ve reviewed, several from my Wish List, and a few I’ll be featuring here in the near future — a mix of new + older titles. Hope you find something to your liking for the big or little people on your list. Sip your coffee or tea and enjoy!

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🍰 A MIXED PLATTER OF MOUTHWATERING COOKBOOKS FOR LITERARY FOODIES 🍩

🎄

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a celebration and a cautionary tale (oh, oh, oh)

OH, WOW! (Icing on the Cake)

Here in this humble blog space, the furry kitchen helpers and I have cause to celebrate.

Alphabet Soup is now officially TEN years old!

To think that when I first started blogging — pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-diverse books movement — I could barely insert an image into a post, and pretty much knew next to nothing about how the internet worked. I did know from day one that my focus would be food and books, but I had yet to read a single food blog.

I think this was a good thing, because it would have been way too intimidating to see all those fancy, artfully designed sites with magazine quality photos — blogs written by people decades younger than I was with ten times the energy, ambition, and technical smarts.

Unlike some others, my primary motivation was not to promote my books or profit from sidebar ads or sponsored posts. I wanted to join the online conversation about children’s books, practice a different form of writing, and build self-confidence. I wanted to “take readers by the hand and show them what I loved.”

Though I had published three picture books in the mid-90’s (when there was a blip of interest in “multicultural books”), by 2007, after years of rejection and the crushing realization that books by and about POC were relegated to a kind of ‘afterthought’ sub-category, I had stopped writing altogether, except for personal letters and journals.

If you hear “NO” often and long enough, pretty soon you tell yourself that no one is interested in what you have to say. ‘Don’t go where you aren’t wanted’ is advice I often heard growing up. Life is short — was this a good, healthy way to live — feeling like a failure every single day? Obviously I wasn’t good enough, or maybe “white” enough or young enough or smart enough or perky enough or lucky enough.

But a writer has to write. There is that innate desire for creative expression. As there didn’t seem to be a place for me in the traditional children’s publishing landscape, what about this blog thing? The only person who had to say “YES” to it was me.

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[review + editor chat + giveaway] Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

Birdsong, flowers blooming, “a sea of summer air.” What a singular delight to linger over this new collection of Emily Dickinson poems!

Emily Dickinson, edited by Susan Snively and illustrated by Christine Davenier, is the first book in a new Poetry for Kids series published by MoonDance Press. The 35 poems are arranged by season, beginning with Summer. And what a joyous welcome it is:

It’s all I have to bring today,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.

Who could resist such a generous invitation to tag along with Emily as she spies a skittish bird, describes what it’s like to chance upon a snake (“grass divides as with a comb”), and cheerfully provides a “recipe” for making a prairie (“it takes a clover and one bee”)?

After the carefree explorations of summer, there’s a gradual winding down as Autumn arrives, with poems about a garden preparing for the cold weather, sunsets, and the passage from life to death. Winter ruminations strike a fitting contemplative tone: snowfall magically transforming the landscape, an industrious spider spinning a web, imagining what heaven might be like.

With Spring, the welcome signs of new life, a delightful letter from a fly to a bee, and fanciful cloud gazing:

A curious cloud surprised the sky,
‘Twas like a sheet with horns;
The sheet was blue, the antlers gray,
It almost touched the lawns”

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