nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Hello, super shiny and awesome person! How about a little Allison Strine to propel your week into high gear?

Based in Roswell, Georgia, Allison creates color-filled images with quirky hand lettering for children’s books and products. Her art is inspired by bright minds in history, the miracles of nature, and unusual, educational tidbits of information.

As you can see, she’s all about communicating love and joy with each stroke. In fact, she signs each of her pieces, “Love, Allison Strine.” Love her positivity!

As a big fan of typography and hand lettering, I find Allison’s work irresistible. She’s like Jessie Hartland, Maira Kalman, and Linzie Hunter rolled into one. So fun!

Allison grew up in a 270-year-old farmhouse north of Boston, Massachusetts, and essentially considers herself a Bostonian, even though she’s lived in the Atlanta area for over two decades. She also did graduate studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

For more about Allison, visit her Official Website and Instagram.

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[review] the abcs of black history by rio cortez and lauren semmer

#59 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

A is for anthem, a banner of song
that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong.
We lift up our voices, lift them and sing.
From stages and street corner, let freedom ring.

Surely there aren’t enough letters in the alphabet to describe all the goodness contained in The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez and Lauren Semmer (Workman, 2020). From its rallying Anthem to its triumphant Zenith, this abecedarian is, I dare say, letter perfect.

Now, if I absolutely had to choose one letter to capture the book’s essence, perhaps it would be “R,” as it’s rich, radiant, rousing, readable, and resourceful. But that would only begin to describe it, because in addition to being an inventive alphabet book celebrating Black history and culture, it’s also a story of strength, persistence, and resilience, a timely call to action, and a loving praise song of hope, creativity, and pride.

Written in lively rhyming couplets, the engaging, conversational text draws the reader in right away by addressing him/her directly with the letter “B.”

B is for beautiful — I’m talking to you!
Your voice, your height, your hair, your hue.

B is for brave, for bright, and for bold.
For those who STOOD UP — even when they were told
to step back, stand down, remember their place.

B is for brotherhood, for believing in grace.

Now that the reader feels seen and validated, the enthusiastic narrator continues by using the collective “we” as she shares the seminal events, iconic figures and big ideas, values, and beliefs that define and characterize the African American experience.

Cortez features visionaries from a wide variety of disciplines — heroes, heroines, innovators, explorers, leaders and role models such as the often lauded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver, Benjamin Banneker, Barack and Michelle Obama, Shirley Chisholm, and Malcolm X, along with lesser known names like organizers Fred Hampton and Diane Nash, and Dr. Patricia Bath, the first African American ophthalmologist.

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[furry review] If You Go Down to the Woods Today by Rachel Piercey and Freya Hartas

Brush your fur, wash your paws, and spiff up your whiskers — it’s time to join Bear as he shows us around his magical woodland home with cheery poems to read and wondrous things to find.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today by Rachel Piercey and Freya Hartas (Magic Cat Publishing, 2021), is, as Kirkus called it, “a tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature.” And when they say “tour de force” they really mean it.

I read many poetry picture books throughout the year, and this is one of the few that literally had me squealing with delight and disbelief when I first saw the art. Wow!

“Bunny’s Birthday”

Before reading any of the poems, I joyously pored over the incredible pictures, my eyes getting wider and wider because there was just so much to see!

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[lipsmacking review] Delicious!: Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World by Julie Larios and Julie Paschkis

What’s your pleasure? Polishing off piroshki in Saint Petersburg, sipping a quick cup of saffron tea at a Mumbai train station, or nibbling on crunchy deep-fried scorpions in Beijing?

In Delicious!: Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World (Beach Lane Books, 2021), my two favorite Julies — Julie Larios and Julie Paschkis — tempt readers with sweet and savory treats sure to rouse appetites and stir wanderlust.

There’s always something special about grabbing a quick bite al fresco, whether you’re wandering a city street or byway, browsing a busy outdoor market, or sitting in a stadium cheering on your favorite team. Few can resist the tantalizing aromas emanating from a well appointed food truck and ordering something cooked right on the spot by a friendly vendor. 

The fourteen short, 4-6 line poems feature an appealingly diverse mix of familiar as well as exotic eats. Our culinary journey begins right here in the USA, with a nod to the immigrants whose various foods, cultures and traditions have informed our palate and enriched American society. 

CARTS IN THE PARK
New York, New York, USA

Syrian shawarma wrapped in a pita?
Biryani? Pork carnitas?
Maybe I’ll get a hot falafel.
Schnitzel? Pretzel? Sesame noodles?
Cajun? Lebanese? Cuban? Thai?
So many choices! What should I try?

Julie L. serves up a savory mouthful with delectable words — food names are fun to read aloud and a nice reminder that while it may be wonderful to visit faraway places, we can enjoy so many mouthwatering vittles without ever leaving the country.

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poetry friday roundup is here!

“Poets sing our human music for us.” ~ Carol Ann Duffy

Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

Hope you’re having a good April and enjoying National Poetry Month, whether you’re reading, writing, listening to, or discovering new poets (or all of the above). 🙂

I do love poems about poetry, and can’t think of a better time to share this favorite by former UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

I found it in her New and Collected Poems for Children (Faber & Faber, 2014), which includes some new verses along with work from four of her award-winning collections. It’s simply chock full of goodness — there’s even an alphabet poem which I should share some time.

The Queen receives incoming Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy (July 2009).

I find it interesting that UK Poet Laureates serve for such long terms. Although they’re now appointed to 10-year fixed terms, prior to 1999, they served for life (upon recommendation from the prime minister and approval of the sovereign). 

Carol Ann’s tenure was from 2009-2019. She was the first female, the first Scot, and the first openly gay and bisexual poet to be so honored, breaking a longstanding tradition of almost 400 years! UK Poet Laureates receive an annual honorarium and a barrel of sherry. 🙂

“Flying Kites” by Renie Britenbucher (2011)
THE WORDS OF POEMS
by Carol Ann Duffy

The words of poems are nails
which tack the wind to a page,
so that the gone hour 
when your kite pulled you over the field
blows in your hair.

They’re hand-mirrors, a poem’s words,
holding the wept tears on your face,
like a purse holds small change, or the breath
that said things.

                                   They’re fishing-nets,
scooping sprats and tiddlers out of a stream
or the gleaming trout that startled the air
when you threw it back. The words of poems

are stars, dot-to-dots of the Great Bear,
the Milky Way your telescope caught; or breves
filled with the light of the full moon you saw
from your bedroom window; or little flames
like the tongues of Hallowe’en candles.

The words of poems are spells, dropping
like pennies into a wishing-well, remember
the far splash? They’re sparklers,
scrawling their silver loops and hoops
on the night, again in your gloved fist
on November the Fifth.

They’re goldfish
in their sad plastic bags at the fair,
you stood there. The words of poems
are coins in a poor man’s hat; the claws of a lost cat.
The words of poems are who you were.
“Ursa Major” by Kristiana Parn

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Now, please leave your links with the dashing Mr. Linky below. Enjoy gallivanting from blog to blog, reading the many words of poems being shared this week. Thank you for joining us and have a nice weekend. You can find the NPM Kidlitosphere Roundup at Susan Bruck’s Soul Blossom Living.

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Another bite for the road.

*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.