[review + recipe] Ernestine’s Milky Way by Kerry Madden-Lunsford and Emily Sutton

Do you remember the first time you were entrusted with an important “job” by your family and feeling a real sense of responsibility?

For five-year-old Ernestine, it was when her mama asked her to deliver two jars of milk to their neighbors in the holler. She would have to set off alone at dawn to walk through dense thickets and overgrown vines, all while hiking up and down a winding mountain path before climbing through a barbed wire fence. Not to mention the possibility of encountering wild animals. No small feat!

In the empowering picture book, Ernestine’s Milky Way by Kerry Madden-Lunsford and Emily Sutton (Schwartz & Wade, 2019), we tag along with Ernestine as she shows everyone that she is indeed a big girl and a good neighbor.

This beautifully told story, set in 1940’s Maggie Valley, North Carolina, brims with heartwarming goodness and has the feel of such classics as Steig’s Brave Irene and Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains.

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Settling in with The Home Builders by Varsha Bajaj and Simona Mulazzani (+ a giveaway!)

What we enjoy most about living in the woods is seeing our wild animal friends. You may remember my mentioning that we regularly feed the foxes, gently move land tortoises away from car danger, and always keep binoculars handy to help us identify new birds.

Any deer sighting is cause for celebration; when there are fawns we melt into puddles of adoration over the spots and white tails. Watching a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk zig and zag while learning to fly is both educational and amusing, and we love the haunting, ethereal hoots of owls late at night.

In The Home Builders by Varsha Bajaj and Simona Mulazzani (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin YRG, 2019) we see how a variety of woodland creatures find shelter and build homes for their soon-to-arrive offspring. Many of the featured animals live in our back yard and woods, so we are familiar with the seasonal hubbub of activity described in this charming picture book.

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[tasty review] Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen and Renée Kurilla

 

Are you hungry, right this very minute?

Well then, put on your bib and prepare to lick your chops cause you’ve come to the right place. 🙂

Can’t wait to tell you about a brand new picture book (just out today!) by Lisl H. Detlefsen, who, you may recall, visited not too long ago to talk about her award-winning debut title, Time for Cranberries (Roaring Brook Press, 2015). 

This time she’s teamed up with Boston-based illustrator Renée Kurilla to serve up Right This Very Minute: A Table-to-Farm Book About Food and Farming (Feeding Minds Press, 2019).

 

 

Talk about interesting, informative, engaging, and totally delicious! This book spotlights the proud, dedicated farmers and ranchers who work hard to feed us each and every day. From orchards to dairy farms, to wheat fields and cranberry marshes, they are constantly busy getting food to our tables.

The fun begins with a mother serving her daughter pancakes, maple syrup and orange juice for breakfast.

 

All art copyright © 2019 Renée Kurilla

 

What’s that you say?
You’re hungry for breakfast?

Right this very minute?

Then you need a farmer.

You have the stories of so many,
right here on your table.

 

She then goes on to explain that the oranges are tested for ripeness at the citrus grove before they’re harvested and squeezed into juice. Meanwhile, a farmer is preparing his field for seeding. The wheat will be “grown, harvested, and then ground into flour” for pancakes. At the same time, a sugarmaker installs a new tubing system to carry maple sap to a storage tank before it’s boiled down into thick maple syrup in evaporators.

We are then invited to join more families and friends as they enjoy a snack, have lunch, dinner, and dessert. Each time, we are treated to tantalizing tidbits about the foods they’re eating.

 

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Chatting with Author B.J. Lee about There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth (+ a recipe and giveaway!)

Talk about Bayou Bliss!

Today we have the distinct honor of welcoming children’s author and poet B.J. Lee to Alphabet Soup to celebrate the official release of her debut picture book, There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth, illustrated by David Opie (Pelican Publishing, 2019)!!

B.J.’s a former librarian whose poems have appeared in oodles of periodicals and anthologies, including Highlights for Children, Spider Magazine, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, One Minute Till Bedtime, The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, Dear Tomato, and the National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry.

Yes, this girl’s been busy scribbling away in her Florida hideaway, and her first picture book is rollicking good fun. She’s taken the classic “There Was An Old Lady” cumulative nursery rhyme and given it a Floridian spin — a cool way to introduce kids to some of the critters who hang out in her part of the country.

Seems B.J.’s Gator swallows a moth — who knows why — and it makes him cough. Only one thing to do: swallow a crab to grab the moth. But the crab “skittered and scuttled and gave him a jab.” What to do? Swallow an eel to nab that crab!

As you can imagine, this was just beginning of Gator’s problems. He keeps swallowing more creatures, bigger and bigger each time (have you seen the stomach on that guy?) until he actually gulps an entire lagoon! Hoo Boy!

You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens to this guzzling gator and all those bewildered animals in his belly. Kids will love turning the pages to see what animal’s next (ray! pelican! panther! manatee! shark!). Of course this story is a riot to read aloud with its catchy rhymes, repetition, bouncy rhythm and amphibious alliteration (cough, cough). And David Opie has amplified the hilarity with his emotive, dynamic illustrations.

Just had to ask B.J. all about her publishing journey, tinkering with the text, and yes, she’s sharing a recipe (did someone say PIE?)!

🎈HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, B.J.! 🎈

 *

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2019 ALA Youth Media Awards Winners!

 

Exciting morning watching the ALA Youth Media Awards live webcast from Seattle! It’s fun to root for your favorite children’s and YA books published in 2018, and there are usually a couple of surprises to keep things interesting.

First off, there were several welcome additions to the annual announcements. For years, I wondered why the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Literature Awards were not included. We’d hear about the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpré winners, but not about the Asian Pacific American winners.

Well, from now on, not only will the APALA Literature Award winners be highlighted, but also awards from the American Indian Library Association (AILA) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). All in an effort “to bring awareness about and encourage the creation of more books that depict diverse cultures, or by authors of color.” About time, I say. Hooray!

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