nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Something to make us feel happy, safe, and comforted:  charming watercolor and gouache paintings by Loré Pemberton.

Couldn’t find very much information about Loré online, other than she’s an artist who lives with her family in the northern woods of Vermont tucked between a mountain and a river in a place they call Cold Hollow.



Her style reminds me a little of Phoebe Wahl’s (which I adore), and features rustic woodland scenes, mothers, children and small animals.

There’s a lovely harmony with nature; children enjoy exploring the forest, catching fireflies, walking through the snow, and having outdoor parties.

This painting, called “Holed Up,” seems appropriate for these times. The three figures in red seem quite content in their cozy underground digs.



And this is Mr Cornelius’s favorite: “Mr. Bear’s House.” He would like to have his own little house with a mailbox with his name on it, and have Fuzzy the Fox peek in the window.



Loré fills her pictures with homey details like braided rugs, quilts, and the simple trappings of rustic living.



To purchase prints, visit Loré Pemberton’s Etsy Shop.



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Chatting with Debbi Michiko Florence about Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (+ a recipe)

Mochi? Did someone say ‘mochi’? Japanese sticky rice cakes have always been one of my favorite treats!

I’m so happy to welcome Debbi Michiko Florence back to Alphabet Soup today to talk about Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (FSG, 2017), the first book in her brand new early chapter book series officially hitting shelves on July 11. It’s actually being released simultaneously with Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth (Book 2). Double the goodness, double the fun!

I’d been keeping my fingers crossed ever since Debbi first mentioned working on Mochi Queen, hoping and hoping over the years that just the right editor would champion this heartwarming story about an 8-year-old Japanese American girl who wants to help her family make mochi for New Year’s. So, it was beyond thrilling to hear that flamingo-and-dessert-loving Jasmine, a spirited and determined royal mess maker, would not only have her own book, but her own series. And how much do I love that the first title in the series is about food? 🙂

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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 —


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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coming soon to a blog near you!


Five . . . four . . .  three . . . two . . . one —

It’s almost lift off time for Erik Weibel’s very first blog tour for his very first book!!

If you’re a cool reader in the know, you’ve probably been following Erik’s insanely awesome blog, This Kid Reviews Books, which he started when he was just nine. He’s still going strong and defying all expectations at age 11 by publishing The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea, a chapter book for ages 7-10. It’s currently available in both paperback and ebook formats.

Come September 8, Erik will kick off The Official Adventures of Tomato and Pea Blog Tour at This Kid Reviews Books, the first of 15, count ’em, 15 (!) crash landings stops at various blogs in the kidlitosphere.

Here’s a synopsis of Erik’s book:

For years the evil villain Wintergreen had tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg. In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen traps himself along with his arch-nemesis in a runaway rocket ship that crashes on a strange planet called “EAR-TH”. Now these perennial enemies must learn to work together to survive the dangers on this strange world. Hungry birds, enormous snakes and the giant inhabitants of EAR-TH stand between this brawling bunch of aliens and finding a way home.


September 8:  This Kid Reviews Books – Cover Reveal and Announcements

September 9:  Michelle Isenhoff’s Blog – Book Review

September 10:  KidLit Reviews – Book Review

September 11:  Mother Daughter Book Reviews – Book Review

The Story Reading Ape – Guest Post by Erik

September 12:  Catherine Johnson’s Blog – Book Review

September 13:  Julie Grasso’s Blog – Book Review

By Word of Beth – Book Review and Giveaway

September 14:  The Patient Dreamer (Diane Tulloch’s Blog) – Book Review

September 15:  Picture Books Help Kids Soar – Book Review

September 16:  Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog – Interview and Q&A with Commenters and Giveaway

September 17:  Reading with Rhythm – Book Review

September 18:  Julie Rowan-Zoch’s blog – Interview

September 19:  Dr. Nana Plum’s (AKA Dr. Niamh Clune)  – Book Review in Rhyme

September 20:  S.W. Lothian’s blog – Book Review

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The one and only Erik the Great, whose future plans include taking over the world.




Copyright © 2013 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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