another surprise book giveaway!

Never a dull moment around here.

Right after I announced last week’s NPM surprise book giveaway (There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth by B.J. Lee and David Opie), we were inundated with HARD STARES.

Ahem, ahem.

Firmly but ever so politely, the resident Paddingtons declared:

WE WILL NOT BE OUTDONE.

If Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear were doing a giveaway, so would they.

And so, 70-something Paddingtons are giving away a brand new copy of Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air  by Margarita Engle, our current Young People’s Poet Laureate:

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.

Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.

Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

Just released in February 2019, Soaring Earth has received **starred reviews** from Horn Book, School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness. Margarita is a master of the verse memoir and this is a beautifully crafted, powerful book!

For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, April 24, 2019. You may also enter by sending an email with MARGARITA in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!!


Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[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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