[review + yummy cake recipe] Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit by Linda E. Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati

 

Once upon another time, I was lucky enough to visit England’s glorious Lake District, where vistas of pristine lakes, rolling green pastures dotted with sheep, lush vales, charming stone cottages, miles of slate and dry stone walls bordering fertile farmland, and magnificent fells rising in the distance took my breath away.

I was curious to see the area after learning that England’s greatest poets and writers had flocked there for three centuries. Though studying the Romantic poets in college had stirred my wanderlust (my “friends” Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Blake, and Byron enabled me to envision this paradise on earth), it wasn’t until I fully tuned into Beatrix Potter’s connection with Lakeland that I became totally smitten. Visiting Hill Top Farm made me a forever diehard fan.

 

Hill Top Farm, Near Sawrey

 

Beatrix didn’t just love the countryside, she helped preserve it for future generations. And she established this amazing legacy at a time when it was not proper for women to “travel, attend college, or work.” Her groundbreaking accomplishments are highlighted in this wonderful new picture book, Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit, by Linda Elovitz Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati (little bee books, 2020).

Young readers will find it interesting that in addition to writing the beloved Peter Rabbit books, Beatrix was also a natural scientist, savvy businesswoman, sheep farmer, and ardent conservationist.

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Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari and Jonathan Voss

 

Once in a great while, we’ll hear a “hoo-hoo-HOOOOO-hoo” coming from our woods in the middle of the night. OWL!

We’re always delighted by this rare sound, since the hooting is our only indication that there really are owls out there. Unlike all the other birds we commonly see (robins, woodpeckers, nuthatches, crows, bluebirds, chickadees, cardinals, wrens), our owly friends, by virtue of being nocturnal and mysterious, like to keep us guessing.

Since it’s pitch black outside (no streetlights), I’ve never actually seen any of the great horned owls that we like to assume are calling to us. They seem to enjoy being elusive, thereby heightening their allure.

Reading Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story, a new poetry picture book by Maria Gianferrari and Jonathan Voss (Putnam, 2020), gave me the perfect opportunity to learn more about these magnificent creatures.

I love the idea of a story told entirely in haiku, and Gianferrari brilliantly manages the challenging feat of creating an engaging, suspenseful narrative while imparting essential facts about the life cycle of the most common owl in North America.

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[review + recipes] Cooking with Bear by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar

 

When the snow begins to melt and early morning bird song fills the air, everybear knows spring is coming. Time to yawn, stretch, wake up from long winter naps and get cooking!

Loud whoops and hollers erupted in the Alphabet Soup kitchen when Mr Cornelius and the other resident bears first saw Cooking with Bear: A Story and Recipes from the Forest, by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar (Groundwood Books, 2019).

They were certain Ms. Hodges had written the book just for them, and with the fist pumps, prancing, drooling, and yes, page licking, it was all I could do to get them to pawse for a minute to take a breath. 🙂

 

 

Cooking with Bear is the companion book to Bear’s Winter Party (2016), where we are first introduced to amiable, good-hearted Bear. Since the other animals in the forest are understandably wary of him (sharp teeth, long claws, so big!), he spends most of his time alone. Bear decides to change that by throwing a party.

After sprucing up his den, he whips up some huckleberry tarts, honey-ginger cookies, and spiced cranberry tea. Deer, Beaver, Fox, Hare, Chickadee, and Squirrel all have a great time singing, dancing, and getting acquainted with Bear over his homemade treats. At party’s end, they leave Bear to settle down for his winter’s nap. Now he’s content that when spring arrives, he’ll have “a forest full of friends.”

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Since we’re definitely in a “spring is almost here!” mood, we’re starting off with some charming watercolors by Chicago-based artist, illustrator, educator, and writer Michelle Kogan.

I first saw Michelle’s work on the cover of the very first Today’s Little Ditty Anthology (2014-2015), edited by the indefatigable Michelle H. Barnes (there is definitely something magical about Michelles). Michelle K. then joined the Poetry Friday gang, and we’ve been treated to her delightful posts every week, where she shares both her poetry and art (doubly delish).

 

 

Michelle is a lifelong nature lover, and her paintings depict the interesting bits of flora and fauna she observes in her various ramblings. She likes to paint outdoors during the summer, either in her own garden or in other nature venues in the Chicago area.

 

 

 

Michelle also paints figures, some of whom appear in her children’s illustrations. A staunch advocate of preserving our natural environment, she hopes her work will continue to inspire more beauty.

 

 

 

Do check out Michelle’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase archival prints, mini-prints, cards, bookmarks, journals and postcards. And of course there’s more art at her Official Website, and poetry and art every week at her blog. Contact Michelle directly via her website for info about classes and workshops, or for poetry, children’s book, or painting commissions.

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[review + giveaway] On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring by Buffy Silverman

 

On a chilly-dilly, boot-tapping, happy-making day, we’re delighted to share Buffy Silverman’s brand new picture book, On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring (Millbrook Press, 2020)!

What’s the weather like where you are? Are you buried under mounds of snow, down with a bit of cabin fever, or reveling in a February thaw?

Chances are good you’ve already been dreaming of spring, and if you live in our neck of the woods, have likely seen the first robins returning from their winter vacations.

All I know is it’s never too early to celebrate the arrival of warmer days as tiny buds appear, animals begin to stir, and slabs of ice slide down the roof. Let the great melt begin!

On a Snow-Melting Day is actually a cleverly crafted extended poem, with each line accompanied by a splendid color photo. Buffy has invited us on a fun, illuminating, multi-sensory lakeside amble featuring plants, birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, and the star of the show — water — in all three of its forms.

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