nine cool things on a tuesday

Emperor Penguin Chick” by Ashley Wolff

1. Ho Ho Ho and Happy Almost December! So, are you feeling festive this week? If, by chance, you need a little holiday lift, please enjoy some of Ashley Wolff’s gorgeous art. 

Isn’t this penguin chick adorable? Ashley’s handpainted one-of-a-kind mini bird ornaments would make the perfect gift for a special someone — or maybe it’s just the thing to give your tree an added touch of beauty. 🙂

These 3” by 3” ornaments are painted with acrylic gouache and mounted on a painted 4.5” easel. These can either be hung or set on a table or shelf for display. Nice way to own an original piece of art!

Many of you know Ashley from her wonderful picture books — the beloved Miss Bindergarten series, Baby Bear, Compost Stew, etc., but did you know she’s also an accomplished landscape painter? I’m blown away by her versatility as an artist, and love her Vermont landscapes as much as I do her book illustrations.

Check out her Etsy Shop for limited edition prints, original paintings, and of course, lots of bird and keepsake ornaments. For even more, check out my recent interviews with Ashley for How to Help a Pumpkin Grow, and Only the Cat Saw.

And don’t forget Ashley’s latest picture book, WILDFIRE! (Beach Lane Books, 2021), just released last month. 🙂

**ETA: Ashley’s running a holiday special: 20% off a combined purchase of $75 or more, plus free shipping!

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[spicy review] We Love Pizza by Elenia Beretta

Put on your bib, it’s pizza time!

Did you know there’s a brand new picture book celebrating our favorite cheesy, crusty, spicy, tomato-luscious food? Bet you’d love to wrap your lips around a warm, ooey gooey slice right this minute. 🙂

Elenia Beretta’s We Love Pizza: Everything you want to know about your number one food (Little Gestalten, 2021) opens with this savory poem:

THE WORLD'S FAVORITE FOOD

The world is full of people,
And people have to eat,
And if they had to choose a dish,
There’s one that’s hard to beat.

You make it and you bake it,
Or you buy it in a shop.
It can be soft or crunchy,
And have lots of things on top.

It’s simple but delicious --
That’s how it’s earned its fame.
Have you now guessed what it is?
Yes, PIZZA is its name!

This delectable introduction to the dish for pizza lovers of all ages is packed with fascinating tidbits sure to surprise and delight.

Where did pizza originate and how did it come to America? What are the different sizes and shapes of pizza? What exactly is a pizzeria and who are some of the people associated with it? How do you make your own pizza, and best of all, what kinds of toppings do people all over the world prefer?

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All Rise for the Letter A!

#60 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Any poet who so jubilantly sings the praises of the letter A is a poet after my own heart. 

from Alphabet by Paul Thurlby (2011)
THE LETTER A
by Darren Sardelli

The letter A is awesome!
It's arguably the best.
Without an A, you could not get
an A+ on a test.
You’d never see an acrobat
or eat an apple pie.
You couldn’t be an astronaut
or kiss your aunt goodbye.
An antelope would not exist.
An ape would be unknown.
You’d never hear a person
say “Afraid” or “All Alone”.
The A’s in avocado
would completely disappear
and certain words would be forgot
like “ankle”, “arm”, and “ear”.

Without the A, you couldn’t aim
an arrow in the air.
You wouldn’t ask for apricots
or almonds at a fair.
Aruba and Australia
would be missing from a map.
You’d never use an ATM,
an apron, or an app.
The arctic fox and aardvark
would be absent from the zoo,
and vowels, as you know them,
would be E, I, O, and U.
There wouldn’t be an A chord
on the instruments you play.
Let’s appreciate, admire,
and applaud the letter A!

~ Reprinted from Blast Off! (The School Magazine, 2016), posted by permission of the author.

How fun to consider some of the marvelous things we’d miss in the absence of A!

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[review + giveaway] For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day

“Everything in nature is a wonderful miracle!/Isn’t the little bird flying through the big sky a miracle?” ~ Amma

Walk barefoot in the sand and curl your toes in the water. Listen to the “winging, singing, whispery sounds” of earth’s creatures. Marvel at a ballet of butterflies, a sky full of stars. Feel the cool air after a fresh rain.

For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day (Eerdmans BFYR, 2021), is a joyous love letter to the world and all we hold dear within it, truly a wonderful way to acknowledge nature’s vast bounty of gifts as well as the friends and family who sustain us.

With about 70 child friendly selections carefully curated by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, this beautifully illustrated inspirational anthology features 51 diverse voices affirming the spiritual rewards of being present and expressing gratitude for wonders large and small.

Young readers are treated to untold delights from morning to night — ordinary moments throughout the day that happily and surprisingly warrant celebration. 

How marvelous to wake up with sloppy puppy kisses, greet the sun that’s bouncing on the bedroom wall like a yellow beach ball, and feel God’s presence everywhere, especially within ourselves. It’s empowering to know that as we experience the world through our own personal lenses, we’re validating our place in it.

MY BEAUTIFUL DAY
by Marion Schoeberlein

I borrowed a poem from the sky,
and music from a bird,
I stole a chime out of the wind,
and from the rose a word,
I borrowed a song from the hills,
a psalm from the silver rain,
I took the footsteps of angels
out of a cobbled lane,
from each little thing I fashioned
something in my own way,
with God's help I put in my heart
a wonderful, beautiful day!

Simple, accessible language and an abundance of sensory details engage readers throughout the book, encouraging them to slow down, look closer, savor, and appreciate. Whether a charming two-line snippet of wisdom or a lyrical five stanza blessing, there’s a welcome positivity and reassurance in the soul nourishing words.

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[crunchy review] Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast by Jack Prelutsky

Hungry? May I interest you in a few angry carrots, a slice of sunlight cake, maybe a cherry pie baked by a butterfly or a dish of red-hot ice cream?

Inaugural Young People’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky serves up all these tantalizing treats and more in his latest anthology, Hard-Boiled Bugs For Breakfast: And Other Tasty Poems (Greenwillow, 2021).

To whet your appetite, wrap your lips around the title poem:

Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast

Hard-boiled bugs for breakfast,
Hard-boiled bugs for lunch,
Hard-boiled bugs at suppertime,
Crunchy! Crunchy! Crunch!

Hard-boiled bugs are tastier
Than spiders, flies, or slugs.
There’s not a doubt about it --
I love those hard-boiled bugs.

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Pretty tasty as long as you don’t get bug legs stuck in your teeth. 😀

Whether you’re a seasoned Prelutsky fan or a curious nibbler with an uncanny appetite for riotous rhymes, inventive wordplay, and preposterously punny poems, this chewy collection of over 100 verses is for you. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about food. Though there’s a respectable smorgasbord of kooky cuisine, kids will find oodles of other subjects infused with Prelutsky’s signature whackadoodle humor to get them giggling and nodding their heads in recognition — poems about faking illness to skip school, lamenting homework, growing light bulbs in a garden, being allergic to your pets, being forgetful or a chronic complainer, even cautionary quips about squeezing electric eels or being carried away by giant bubble gum (there’s a giant Easter Bunny too). 

Animals, real and imaginary, also get their fair share of the spotlight. Consider a lizard who can play the mandolin, an inch-tall, pink-tinted purple-dotted elephant who can tie her trunk in knots and play the violin with her tail, a giraffe that gives voice lessons, or a horse that floats in the air. Who wouldn’t love to have any of these pets? 

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