[author chat + giveaway] A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet by Astronaut Clayton Anderson and Scott Brundage

#56 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Clayton Anderson in the Destiny module of the International Space Station

 

“T minus 10, 9, 8, 7, main engine start, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and LIFT OFF!”

B is for Blastoff, a powerful thing!
When those engines are fired, it’ll make your ears ring.
There is smoke — and vibration — as we launch into space.
And we do it with flair, with excitement and grace!

 

On June 8, 2007, Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson launched to the International Space Station aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. As Expedition 15 Flight Engineer and Science Officer aboard the ISS for five months, he performed three space walks. He returned to the ISS in 2010 on a resupply mission, and in 2013 retired from NASA after 30 years of service — 15 as an engineer and 15 as an astronaut.

These days, Clay is an author, motivational speaker, and part-time Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University. In March 2018 he published his first children’s book, A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet, illustrated by Scott Brundage (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018).

In this entertaining and informative picture book, we are invited to fly with Clay on a fun, out-of-this-world A to Z tour that draws on his wealth of firsthand knowledge and unique insight.

From Astronaut and Blast-off, to Galaxy and Meteors, right through to Rendezvous and Zulu time, the short lively poems paired with fascinating info sidebars will appeal to spaceniks and science buffs of all ages, stirring their wanderlust and inspiring them to dig a little deeper.

Continue reading

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Not to sound corny or anything (tee hee), but I love bow ties! Ordinary bow ties in any color or fabric float my boat, but foodie ones send me right over the edge.

Know of any handsome gents who need to spruce up their wardrobes?

These are made by Rotterdam based artist Rommy Kuperus of RommydeBommy. You may remember when I interviewed Rommy as part of the Indie Artist Spotlight series a few years ago. In that post, I included two of her bow ties, and zippity doo-dah, now she’s added more!

Do check out Rommy’s Etsy Shop for all her outrageous foodie fashion accessories. In addition to bow ties, she makes purses, brooches, and necklaces. All will bring a smile to your face and jolt you out of your ho-hum doldrums (there’s nothing like having perfect strangers offer to lick your handbag). 😀

Was I happy to see that she’s now making tea bags? Oh yes.

*

2. New Book Alert!!! Doggone it, today is official release day for NANNY PAWS by Wendy Wahman (Two Lions, 2018)!

Nanny Paws looks after Ally and Mae the only way she knows how—as a dog would. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her girls. She feeds them a hearty breakfast (cookies are best), picks up their toys (teddy bears fit nicely in freshly dug holes), and even walks them to school (running them there is fun too). But one Tuesday, Ally and Mae come home sick, and it’s up to Nanny Paws to take care of them…in her own special way.

Nanny Paws has already gotten *rave reviews* from Kirkus, Booklist and School Library Journal. I’m looking forward to sniffing this one out. How can you go wrong when the author/illustrator’s children resemble and act like standard poodles? Find out more about the book in this cool interview with Wendy at Mile High Reading.

And check out the cute trailer:

Happy Pub Day, Wendy!!!

*

Continue reading

[review] H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg and Sawsan Chalabi

#55 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Children’s umbrellas glistening in the rain, roadside sunflowers turning their heads, a dreaming cat encircled by its furry tail.

These are a few of my favorite “small moments” from this charming new picture book, H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg and Sawsan Chalabi (Penny Candy Books, 2018).

According to her daughter Amy Losak, “Syd” (who passed away in 1996) had a “gift for life,” a unique ability to find joy in small everyday moments that the average person might overlook. A keen observer with an innate spirit of adventure, she was able to make the ordinary extraordinary through her haiku and senryū.

 

Syd and Amy

 

Syd started writing poetry as a child, and for decades while teaching in NYC public schools, she published both poetry and prose in various journals and anthologies. She was also a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968. But Syd was never able to fulfill her dream of publishing a book of haiku for children until now.

Continue reading

[review + giveaway] With My Hands: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Whether you like to draw, paint, write, sculpt, bake or carve, there’s nothing as magical, empowering, or satisfying as creating “something new that never was before.”

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (Clarion Books, 2018), celebrates the joy of turning an idea into something real and tangible with your very own hands.

The 26 mostly rhyming poems cover everything from soap carving, knot-tying and origami, to making birdhouses, pinatas, toy parachutes, tie-dye shirts, leaf pictures and collages. The opening poem reveals the unique power and province of the maker (love the thumbprint art!):

MAKER

I am making
something new
with my hands
my head
my heart.

That’s what makers do.

A maker starts with
an empty space
ideas
hope
and stuff.

A maker
pushes
through mistakes.
A maker
must be tough.

A maker is
a tinkerer.
A maker will
explore.

A maker creates
something new
that
never
was
before.

Continue reading

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Now you see her, now you don’t. Peruvian-born, Philadelphia-based camouflage artist Cecilia Paredes creates extraordinary “photo performances” using her own body as part of the canvas.

She blends in with beautiful patterned backgrounds by painting her own skin (sometimes her entire body), or wearing painted clothing that will allow her to disappear/reappear.

Such precise, tedious work to transfer all the details onto a three dimensional surface! Cecilia was initially inspired to begin this photographic series because of her constant relocation, using the body as part of the intended landscape. How do we adjust to our new surroundings? How do we fit in?

Her artist statement:

Part of what makes us human is our ability to see beyond the narrow door through which we enter the world—to grow beyond the culture of our birth by recognizing other cultures, other patterns of life. Yet our birth culture is always imprinted upon us; the mystery of identity is never fully resolved. We are always from a time and place to which we can never return.

We continue to marvel as she explores themes of self identity, belonging, displacement, invisibility/visibility, emotional interiors, and body politics. Her striking, thought-provoking pieces certainly encompass self reflection as well as social commentary. Coincidentally, her last name, “Paredes,” means “Walls” in Spanish. Some of her pieces are for sale here.

*

2. You may know I’m a longtime fan of Salley Mavor’s exquisite fabric relief artwork. I religiously follow her Facebook updates and blog to see what she’s currently working on, and am constantly awed and amazed by her creativity and productivity. For the last year, she’s been working on a stop-motion animation movie called “Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free.” She hopes to release it this summer. Can’t wait!

from In the Heart (2001)

Meanwhile, just wanted to give you the heads up in case you weren’t aware that in addition to notecards, posters, and prints, Salley has autographed books for sale in her Etsy Shop, Wee Folk Studio. Both of her Felt Wee Folk craft books as well as two picture books, In the Heart and Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, are currently available. Wonderful gifts and keepsakes!

In the Heart (2001)

 

from Pocketful of Posies (2010)

*

3. March is a very good month for poet, author and educator Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. She has two new books being released!

Dreaming of You, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt (Boyds Mills Press 2018) just came out on March 6:

This soothing bedtime story explores the question, When animals sleep, what do they see in their dreams? The lyrical text tells readers that chipmunks dream of digging deep burrows, puppies dream of long, waggy walks, and horses dream of wild, windy rides. But most of all, the animals dream of all the fun and adventure the next day will bring. The gentle rhymes and gorgeous, serene illustrations combine to create a comforting story perfect for transitioning from a busy day to being tucked in peacefully at night.

Dreaming of You has already earned a *starred review* from Kirkus, who described it as, “sweetly imaginative, linguistically rich, and featuring enlivening vocabulary with lots of active verbs and new and interesting nouns and adjectives.”

 

And, on March 27, With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (Clarion Books, 2018) will officially hit shelves:

Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud.

With My Hands is an inspiring invitation to tap into creativity and enjoy the hands-on energy that comes from making things.

I’m looking forward to featuring both books in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. 🙂

Double Congratulations to Amy!!

*

4. I don’t know. There’s just something about these fruity pencil cases. I was big on pencil cases in grade school and still lament the loss of my shiny royal blue one. These colorful cuties are so cheery I’m sure my pens and pencils would enjoy hanging out in them. 🙂

They’re about 8 inches long and made of bicast leather. Get yours here. Fun! :).

*

5. Tune into some good grub: Eat Like a Rock Star: 100 Recipes from Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Greatest by Mark Bego (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017)!

Who knew that Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones) makes an amazing Lamb Chops with Endive and Blue Cheese Salad, that Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers) loves Pasta with Ham and Parmesan Cheese, or that Boz Scaggs eats Tuscan Grilled Chicken?

With more than a hundred recipes from seven decades of rock ‘n’ roll, pop, country, RnB, and disco, Mark Bego, along with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, gathers beloved recipes from legendary rocker friends and invites the ultimate music fan to put on an apron and join them at the table. Featuring each rock star’s biography, their favorite recipe, and other fun facts, Eat Like a Rock Star is a must-have for every die-hard rocker-at-heart who loves to eat.

There is nowhere else you will find Ray Parker Jr.’s Salmon and Eggs, Joey Fatone’s (NSYNC) Rice Balls, Micky Dolenz’s (The Monkees) Micky ‘D’ Cocktail, and Angela Bowie’s (David Bowie’s ex-wife’s) Rosti Hash Brown Potatoes all in one book. Whether it’s brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert, learn to cook:

• Michelle Phillips’s (The Mamas & The Papas) Organic Lemon Chicken
• Lou Christie’s Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes
• Marilyn McCoo’s (The 5th Dimension) Leg of Lamb
• Glen Campbell’s Favorite Mexican Chicken Casserole
• Sarah Dash’s (Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles) Peach Cobbler, and more!

With a section on head-spinning cocktails, full menu suggestions, as well as author Mark Bego’s own culinary concoctions such as Spicy Szechuan Sesame Noodles and Boozy Banana Cream Pie, look no further for the all-in-one cooking and rock ‘n’ roll companion. As Martha Reeves says about her Smoked Turkey Necks & Lima Beans, “Honey, this is real soul food!”

Okay, I may just pass on the smoked turkey necks but this book sounds like a hoot. Even if I never make any of the recipes, I’m curious to know what these music types like to cook and eat.

You may be wondering who Mark Bego is. He’s written and co-written many pop and country music and showbiz biographies — hence the access to personal recipes from these celebrities. Since Skyhorse Publishing also published Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls (2016),  I’m hoping this one will be just as good.

“California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day . . . ”

*

6. You’re hungry now? Well, what a surprise. Take a little time to enjoy this wonderful “Storymakers in the Kitchen” Kidlit TV video featuring Aram Kim making kimchi pancakes with Rocco Staino. You may remember we interviewed Aram shortly after No Kimchi for Me was published last summer. Put a little spice in your day! Hooray for Aram!

*

7.  Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Lieke van der Vorst’s work online and fell in love. I admit her food and bear illustrations were the first to catch my eye, but as I explored further, I noticed how calm and peaceful her art in general made me feel.

Lieke hails from the Netherlands, is a nature lover, and draws inspiration from everyday life. In a recent interview, she was asked if there is a message she wishes to convey through her art.

That people should start [to] listen, to themselves, their bodies and nature. It would be so nice if we can all live together without hurting any living thing.

Love her focus on the interconnectedness of all living things, as well as how she blends whimsy/fantasy with reality.

Check out her Liekeland Shop, where she sells prints, cards, and bags.

*

8. You know me, I need my pottery fix. Been following Nancy Gardner Ceramics for awhile. Nancy is an award winning potter from Illinois who’s been collaborating with her partner Burton Isenstein since 1988.

They produce one-of-a-kind, hand-built and hand decorated pieces, works of art that are meant to be used and enjoyed (the glaze they use is food safe and water tight).

 

Their work is inspired by historical and contemporary pottery forms, textiles, paintings and illustration. I like the whimsy and quirkiness. See more at their official website and Etsy Shop. Happy stuff!

*

9. Finally, a hedgehog. This little guy called out to me recently. Just sitting there, all balled up, not demanding anything of anyone — adorable and cozy. Just a lump. Check him out at GladoArt, along with other needle felt animals made by Olga Gladkaya of the Ukraine.

Would you like to adopt this little friend? 🙂

*

Mustn’t forget our blue song.  Here’s a tune courtesy of the wayback time machine. I think I was in utero when it first came out :D, but I remember hearing it on the radio all the time in grade school. Until I saw this video, I never knew what Jimmy Clanton looked like.

 

*

THINK BLUE

BE KIND

DON’T LOSE HOPE

HAVE A GOOD WEEK!


*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no cost to you). Thanks for your support!

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.