[scrumptious review + recipe] Wintercake by Lynne Rae Perkins

 

What ingredients would you need to have a wonderful, jubilant, extra-happy, a little bit mysterious winter holiday?

Hmmm, perhaps two furry brown animals (one adorably stout, the other tall and sleek), a perky, yellow-feathered birdie, a warm hollow with a cozy fire, and CAKE!

For added flavor (why not?), add a bustling tea room with chatty critters in the middle of the woods, a basket of dried fruit, and three mistakes (that’s the mysterious part) — and you have the utterly charming new picture book, Wintercake (Greenwillow, 2019), written and illustrated by Newbery winner Lynne Rae Perkins.

You could say this one was written with my name all over it. I will say it’s one of my top three fave picture books of the year, and definitely one of my all-time favorite holiday books. After all, I do love little furry animals (I’m married to one), we do live in the woods (I dream of opening a tea room), and after eating enough cake, I could very well be described as stout. 😀

What’s that? You’re a little concerned about the ‘mysterious mistakes’? I thought as much. Don’t worry, because in this story, we see how mistakes can lead to good things — an adventure, new friends, new traditions — all cause for celebration. Let me explain . . .

 

 

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

 

1. Think pink and chew on this: behold the crazy cool bubblegum sculptures of Rome-based artist Maurizio Savini!

 

 

Yes, I did say bubblegum. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have to pre-chew his chosen medium. Two assistants help him soften bricks of the stuff into malleable sheets before they’re applied to plaster molds like traditional clay, and then carved with a razor-sharp scalpel.

 

 

His subjects include animals, objects from pop culture, and people — sometimes for the purpose of political or social commentary (“pink represents artificiality — when you see it, you associate it with a fake world”). He’s been working with bubblegum for over 20 years, and his pieces are exhibited in galleries all over the globe.

 

 

Since bubblegum cannot typically be recycled or composted, Savini’s art is a creative way of “stretching the boundaries of environmental conscientiousness.” Oh, and don’t worry, his sculptures are preserved with a special mixture of antibiotics and formaldehyde, so they can be enjoyed for generations to come. 😀

 

 

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2. It’s time to order your 2020 Julie Paschkis Vision Calendars!

 

 

This 2020 Vision Calendar is a one page poster, printed on heavy stock, 11″ x 17″. The watercolor and ink drawing celebrates the hope that our democracy will be strengthened and the rights of all protected – that 2020 will be a year of clarity and vision in the United States.

Each calendar costs $12. The entire $12 for each calendar sold goes to the ACLU. They make great gifts. Please get several of them! Shipping is free for 5 calendars or more.

A great cause, a beautiful calendar! Zip over to Julie Paprika to place your order.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Let’s travel to the UK, shall we?  We can “visit” the English countryside and seaside thanks to Thatcham-based mixed media and acrylic artist Jo Grundy, who is largely inspired by nature, patterns, textiles and ceramics.

 

 

In addition to acrylics, she uses oil pastels, paper, texturizer, PVA glue, stitching beads and buttons.

Don’t you just want to enter the world of her paintings? Pretty, serene, peaceful. Love the delicate details.

 

 

Of course I especially love how she uses BLUES in her work. 🙂

 

 

See more at Jo’s Etsy Shop, where you can purchase mounted and canvas prints, greeting cards, tote bags, and cushions. She’s also happy to take commissions.

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2. New Book Alert! Just in case you missed it, must mention that The Ups and Downs of the Castle Mice by Michael Bond and Emily Sutton (Bodley Head, 2019),was released in the UK back in September.

 

 

It is the sequel to The Tale of the Castle Mice, which came out in 2016. Ups and Downs is one of the last (if not the last) picture books Mr Bond wrote before he died in 2017. As you know, the 70-something resident Paddingtons absolutely adore Mr Bond, and now that he’s gone, we cherish his final works even more.

Of course, these Castle Mice books are even more special because all of us here are also huge Emily Sutton fans. Her work in Ups and Downs is breathtakingly gorgeous. Do you see those teacups on the cover (why, yes, yes you should)?

Here’s a quick synopsis:

From the creator of Paddington Bear comes a tale of dastardly villains and unlikely tiny heroes.

The Perk family live in a doll’s house in a castle. The castle is their home – but when someone new with devious plans comes to rule the roost, will our family of mice come up trumps?

Full of humour and warmth, this nostalgic tale by Michael Bond is brought to life with exquisite detail by Emily Sutton.

 

LOVE. You. need. this. book!

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[delectable review + recipe] Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, From Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon

 

Every afternoon around 1:30, I bite into a piece of organic 70% cacao dark chocolate. As it slowly melts in my mouth (oh, so velvety rich and flavorful!), my mood lifts and a certain dreamy euphoria sets in. Hello, dopamine, serotonin and antioxidants!

 

 

Not only does chocolate make me feel good, it’s good for my health, overall well being and productivity. As per my ongoing “scientific” research, most of the writers I’ve polled agree that chocolate inspires their best work — all the more reason to heartily swig steamy cups of cocoa, wrap your lips around fudgy brownies, gleefully devour truffles and bonbons, and giddily carouse with cacao at every opportunity.

Glad we agree on that! 🙂

But such divine delights should never be taken for granted. In fact, the next time you reach for your favorite chocolate bar, you will probably appreciate it even more if you consider how the cocoa was sourced and harvested, with a nod to the hardworking farmers in faraway places who play such an important role in producing the scrumptious wonder that is chocolate.

 

 

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(actually more than) nine cool things on a tuesday

art by Maira Kalman

 

1. Surely there’s no better way to begin a day, a week, a month, a year — or even a roundup — than with a Maira Kalman fix. The above painting is part of an exhibition featuring 100 pieces of her work, “The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children,” running through September 15, 2019 at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and coming to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (October 13, 2019 – January 19, 2020).

If you can’t make it in person, the next best thing is this paperback exhibit catalog:

 

 

LOVE me some Maira! Anytime, anyplace. And the thing is, whenever I think I can’t adore her even more, she’ll do something new to tickle me pink all over again. Take this short film she made recently in collaboration with her son Alex, for example. Can’t decide what I like most — the talking chicken piano teacher? the naps? or the pink cake? When it comes to Maira, every day is a wonderful day:

 

 

And there’s more: look what’s coming out in March 2020!

 

Cannot. Wait. Available now for pre-order!

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