we have a winner!

We are pleased to announce that we have a winner in the Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World giveaway!

After the most recent fiasco, Mr. Random Integer Generator decided he needed some time off in the south of France, where he is, at this very moment, nibbling on Salade Nicoise and sipping L’Estandon. He was only too pleased to pass le bâton to Monsieur Cornelius, who then acted with the utmost discretion to avoid any jealousy in the ranks.

M. Cornelius made sure no one could impersonate Mr. Generator by securing all stray mustaches. No monkey business this time.

After reading Iva Honeysuckle for the fourteenth time, he channeled his favorite main character by cutting a fresh Y-shaped branch from a willow tree. Though this was his first experience with dozing dowsing divining, Cornelius held steady and employed enviable powers of concentration.

After a mere 3 minutes and 24 seconds, his dowsing rod twitched and dipped and pointed to one lucky commenter.

*drum roll, please*

Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner of a brand new, signed copy of Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World by Candice Ransom is:


Please send your snail mail address to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so we can get your prize out to you zippity quick!

BIG THANKS to everyone for all your great comments (please have some unsweetened cherry Kool-Aid). We hope you all discover wonderful new worlds in your summer reading!


See, things went swimmingly this time. No monkey business. No monkey business at all.


*Drum Roll copyright © 2009 Lisa Slavid.

Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

chatting with candice ransom about iva honeysuckle discovers the world (and a giveaway)!

Cornelius and I are thrilled to welcome award-winning children’s author Candice Ransom to the Alphabet Soup kitchen today.

As you may know, we’re in love with her latest book, Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World (Disney Hyperion, 2012), which was just named to the Summer 2012 Kids’ Indie Next List, and which Kirkus describes as, “A breezy, wide-open window into the turbulent heart of a dramatic third-grade adventurer and her small-town Virginia community.”

I was instantly captivated by spunky and supremely self-assured Iva Honeycutt and her quest to become a world famous discoverer. With great-grandfather Ludwell’s treasure map in hand and her not-so-trusty canine companion Sweetlips by her side, she paces and dowses her way around her hometown of Uncertain, Virginia, searching for General Braddock’s war chest. But as all great explorers eventually learn, sometimes you end up finding something entirely different, and by golly, it’s even better!

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cornelius discovers iva honeysuckle

While we were busy Poetry Potlucking last month, Candice Ransom’s brand new chapter book,  Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World (Disney/Hyperion, 2012), was released into the wild.

With her loyal canine companion Sweetlips, Iva embarked on her very first adventure — to find buried treasure right in her own little hometown of Uncertain, Virginia. Cornelius loved the book so much he read it three times in a row and was thrilled when we told him we were going to surprise Candice at her Book Launch Party. He was hoping he might get to eat some Preacher Cookies like Iva did in the book.

So, on a beautiful sunny Saturday, we headed down to the bbgb Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia — “bbgb” standing for “bring back good books,” “buy a book give a book,” or whatever else you like (Cornelius says, “bears believe in good books”).

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guest post: candice ransom and her mama’s southern pies

Speaking of pie, I hope you saved your forks, because today we’re serving up an extra delicious portion of Southern goodness thanks to the kindness and generosity of multi-talented, award-winning children’s author Candice Ransom!

I call Candice a human dynamo, because I’m in perpetual awe of just how much and how fast she writes. In a career spanning 25+ years, she’s published well over a hundred books in multiple genres — board book, picture book, easy reader, chapter book series, tween and middle grade fiction, biographies and nonfiction.

She has not one, but two graduate degrees: an MFA in children’s writing from Vermont College and an MA in children’s literature from Hollins University. She currently teaches in the MA/MFA children’s literature program at Hollins, is a widely sought after speaker at conferences and workshops, and can polish off a Red Velvet cupcake, blackberry bruchetta, or Devonshire cream scone with the best of them.

Impressive credentials aside, what I admire most about Candice is how completely she immerses herself in the time and place of her stories. She’s a diehard antique junkie who will travel to the ends of the earth to locate a cool artifact which might “belong” to a particular character, or a bit of ephemera that might inform a certain scene or illuminate an overriding theme. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more astute observer of human nature; Candice wholeheartedly loves and appreciates her Virginia roots, and conveys her enthusiasm in crackling prose brimming with telling detail.

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soup of the day: pony island by candice ransom!

Clip clop, clip clop!

Whoa, steady there! It’s time to tap your lucky horseshoes together in honor of uber-talented, prolific children’s book author, Candice Ransom, because today, her non-fiction picture book, Pony Island, is officially out from Walker Books! WooHoo!!

PONY ISLAND by Candice F. Ransom, pictures by Wade Zahares,
(Walker Books, 2009). Picture book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.

Ever since I first read Fuse 8’s detailed, glowing review of Pony Island, I’ve been anxious to see it. In spare verse, Ransom relates how a cargo of wild ponies were left stranded on an uninhabited island off the coast of Virginia after a shipwreck in the Atlantic. The ponies lived there peacefully without human contact for many years, until a devastating series of fires on the neighboring island of Chincoteague prompted cowboys to round up the ponies and auction some of them off to raise money for a new fire truck.

The Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim, Penning, and Carnival is an enduring tradition that is still highly anticipated today. Every July, tens of thousands of people brave long waits in the hot sun to watch these beautiful animals make the 3-minute swim between Assateague and Chincoteague. Proceeds from the auction support the fire department and help maintain the herd on Assateague, where they have supposedly lived since the 1600’s.

If you’ve read Misty of Chincoteague, you know well the fascination with these ponies. It is said descendants of Misty still live on Assateague. Now, with Candice Ransom’s new book, young readers will be able to read a story based on the theory most favored by Chincoteague residents about the origin of these ponies — that involving a Spanish galleon wrecked at sea.

Now, please join me in congratulating Candice on what sounds like a beautiful book! Just for today, you may get into the spirit of celebrating by diving right into the bowl or slurping heartily from the trough. Exuberant whickers, whinnies, neighs, and nickers are especially encouraged.

Today’s Special: Chincoteague Chowder (will bring out your wild side)

Well, what are you waiting for? Gallop on over to your local indie or click through to your fave online bookseller and pony up some cash for your copy of Pony Island!

For more about Candice and her books, visit her official website and Live Journal Blog, Under the Honeysuckle Vine, or catch up with her cohorts in adventure at Ellsworth’s Journal.

To see a video of last year’s Wild Pony Swim, click here.

To see the parade (you have to, the ponies are adorable), click here.

For more information about the 2009 Wild Pony Swim, Parade and Carnival, visit Assateague.com.

More Soup of the Day posts here.