Hope you’re wearing a fancy day dress and bonnet, maybe have a favorite parasol to twirl while you’re queuing up with all the other tony arthropods. Get ready to wrap your lips around trays and trays of delectable sweets!
In The Tiny Baker, a whimsically delicious new picture book by Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay (Barefoot Books, 2020), we are treated to a lyrical and visual feast that’s cuter than a bug’s ear.
The baker in question appears to be a honeybee, whose tearoom is always crawling with business.
Her customers line up in rows. Antennae wave well-bred hellos.
They’re always elegantly dressed, Silk gowns or trousers neatly pressed.
They wait to try her lemon tarts, Her sugar-sprinkled cookie hearts,
To sample her pecan pralines And nibble lacy florentines.
Just before she opens her doors, the bee baker makes sure her “pantry is pristine,” while her “spotty squad” of ladybug pastry chefs busily mix, whisk, and stir.
Then she’s happy to welcome and seat a group of elegant ants, mentioning her “sublime éclairs” while pouring them pink lemonade or freshly made rose-hip iced tea.
But “in the kitchen trouble brews”: a fragrant breeze brings urgent news, prompting the ladybug assistants to suddenly swarm off — every last one of them! Disaster!
1. For this important, historic day, let’s start with food, glorious food, courtesy of British artist Lucy Crick. She lives and works in Suffolk, and has been painting still life oils since art school.
She’s all about “dramatic lighting, careful staging, and attention to detail,” which adds a touch of magic to her otherwise everyday subjects.
Her work reflects her love of the traditional still lives of the Dutch Golden Age, and she paints mainly on board or wooden panels. I suppose one could categorize her paintings as “photorealistic.”
1. How about a bit of nature, whimsy, nostalgia, and coziness? New Hampshire artist Madison Safer’s work has a charming storybook quality to it that feels safe and comforting.
Hers is a world of owl apothecaries, rabbit beekeepers, people wearing mushroom hats, and fairy birthday parties where ladybugs, squirrels and wee folk chat over cake. I love that humans and animals are on equal footing, and that woodland creatures of all kinds co-exist peacefully.
Madison studied illustration at Montserrat College of Art and she works mainly in watercolor, gouache and acrylics.
She’s inspired by Eastern European art, folk art traditions, vintage Victorian postcards, old 50’s field guides, and classic children’s books like Frog and Toad Are Friendsand The Wind in the Willows.
In addition to creating narrative illustrations, Madison is keen on plant and natural education, perfectly in keeping with the abundance of wildflowers and wildlife right outside her door. Favorite pastimes include daydreaming, drinking tea, napping, and stealing flowers. She is happiest in a field of mushrooms.
1. Isn’t it amazing how six months ago, face masks were the farthest thing from our minds, and now they’ve become an essential part of our daily lives? Such an important (and simple) way of showing care and respect for others.
No matter who you are, or what your tastes or needs may be, there’s a mask for you, from disposable surgical ones to different styles of fabric masks in every conceivable color and print, to those with funny pictures or sayings on them, to beautiful pieces of wearable art. With the right mask, you can even make a bold fashion or political statement.
In the beautiful art category, behold these masks featuring the exquisite work of award winning painter, illustrator and teacher Carla Golembe. Been a Carla fan since she illustrated my third picture book, The Woman in the Moon (Little, Brown, 1995), and I can’t get enough of her color saturated jewel-tone pictures, which embrace spirituality, female empowerment, the wonders of nature, and stewardship of the planet Earth. Love the mystical, magical, mysterious quality of her images.
If you must wear a mask, why not feel beautiful while doing it? Think also of the pleasure you afford those who see you. And of course it’s always great to support indie artists whenever possible. Win-win!
Do check out Carla’s wonderful designs at Fine Art America— all can be purchased as face masks. Don’t be surprised if you turn heads wherever you go . . .
Learn about seven groundbreaking women in math and science in this gorgeously written biographical novel-in-verse, a companion to the “original and memorable” (Booklist, starred review) Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science.
After a childhood spent looking up at the stars, Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet and to earn a salary for scientific research. Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing nurse whose work reformed hospitals and one of the founders of the field of medical statistics. The first female electrical engineer, Hertha Marks Ayrton registered twenty-six patents for her inventions.
Marie Tharp helped create the first map of the entire ocean floor, which helped scientists understand our subaquatic world and suggested how the continents shifted. A mathematical prodigy, Katherine Johnson calculated trajectories and launch windows for many NASA projects including the Apollo 11 mission. Edna Lee Paisano, a citizen of the Nez Perce Nation, was the first Native American to work full time for the Census Bureau, overseeing a large increase in American Indian and Alaskan Native representation. And Vera Rubin studied more than two hundred galaxies and found the first strong evidence for dark matter.
Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates seven remarkable women who used math as their key to explore the mysteries of the universe and grew up to do innovative work that changed the world.
I’m ashamed to admit I was only familiar with two of the seven women included in this book — Florence Nightingale and Katherine Johnson. Thank goodness for Jeannine’s ongoing efforts celebrating the accomplishments of brilliant, fascinating, courageous, innovative women. Always a revelation to read about yet another female breaking gender stereotypes (yay for girl power!). And what better way to learn something new than by reading Jeannine’s exquisitely crafted verse? Of course, enough cannot be said about the importance of having strong female role models for today’s readers.
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.