[Review and Author Chat] Jorge Argueta on Olita y Manyula: The Big Birthday/El gran cumpleaños

Look who’s here! 🙂

By now, most of you know I’m a big Jorge Argueta fan. I’ve previously featured four titles from his fabulous bilingual Cooking Poem Series here at Alphabet Soup: Rice Pudding/Arroz con leche (2010), Guacamole (2012), Tamalitos (2013), and most recently, Salsa (March 2015), all published by Groundwood Books.

Today, Jorge is here to talk about Olita y Manyula: The Big Birthday/El gran compleaños (Luna’s Press Books, 2015), a new bilingual picture book that represents yet another milestone in his esteemed literary career as author, poet, publisher and bookstore owner — a semi-autobiographical story that’s especially close to his heart.

Since founding Luna’s Press about 20 years ago, Jorge has published a number of chapbooks by San Francisco poets, but Olita y Manyula is the press’s first children’s book. This charming story features a young girl named Holly (Olita) who travels from the U.S. to visit friends and family in El Salvador. Once there, her aunt, cousin, and two friends excitedly escort her to a special birthday party for Manyula, whose house is within walking distance.

On the way, they stroll through the San Jacinto neighborhood with its colorful painted houses under the “tik-tik, tok-tok” of warm, intermittent rain, laughing and jumping in mud puddles. Rather than divulge any details about Manyula’s identity, the boys instead focus on pointing out several notable landmarks en route (the San Salvador volcano, beautiful Alcehuate River, a cement statue resembling a big handkerchief).

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friday feast: james rumford’s poem for peace (calling all translators!)

Today I am honored to share a beautiful poem that was recently read aloud at the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s Book Awards ceremony at the United Nations Plaza.

It was written by esteemed Hawaii-based author and illustrator James Rumford, and was inspired in part by a conversation he had with President Obama’s sister Maya Soetero Ng about the importance of using children’s books to promote peace. I was moved by this timeless, powerful message, words we all need to hear now more than ever.

(click to enlarge)

 

EACH TIME

I wonder
how could I,
so small,
just one person,
bring peace
to this fighting world.

I might as well try
to touch the clouds
or journey to the stars
or travel to the far
corners of the globe.

Yet each time I
let raindrops fall
on my upturned face,
it is the clouds
out of reach
that touch me.

Each time I
dance in the twin-
kling night
it is the stars
so far away
that have journeyed
to meet me.

Each time I
take the first step
and go where
I’ve never
gone before,
it is the world
that opens up
to me.

Each time I
smile,
so small,
just one person,
and make a friend,
it is peace
that comes
to me.

~ Copyright © 2014 James Rumford

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a taste of chris caldicott’s world food alphabet

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

Fancy some Moroccan dates, farm fresh eggs from France, bananas from the Caribbean?  How about a stroll through the street markets of Burma, Guatemala and England? Now, I know that if you chanced upon a particular street vendor in Thailand, you’d surely insist on a bowl of yummy noodles. Sitting around a low table on your plastic stool, you’d likely find the happy conversation every bit as satisfying as the food.

Acclaimed UK food and travel writer and photo journalist Chris Caldicott serves up an international feast for the senses in his photographic alphabet of world food. He takes us to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, giving us a fascinating glimpse of how food is grown, transported, sold, cooked, eaten and shared. Far more than a standard “A is for Apple” compendium, each photograph in World Food Alphabet (Frances Lincoln, 2012) tells a story with an interesting cultural and geographical context, showing people interacting with particular foods in their everyday lives.

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one more bowl of dumpling soup, but please, no octopus!

book and soup
Nothing like a bowl of homemade mandu to start off a new year!

Once upon a time, I published a picture book called Dumpling Soup, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders:

Every year on New Year’s Eve, my whole family goes to Grandma’s house for dumpling soup. My aunties and uncles and cousins come from all around Oahu. Most of them are Korean, but some are Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, or haole (Hawaiian for white people). Grandma calls our family ‘chop suey,’ which means ‘all mixed up’ in pidgin. I like it that way. So does Grandma. ‘More spice,’ she says.

This year, I celebrated the New Year in Hawai’i for the first time in decades. Thanks to my mom, I got to eat my favorite traditional Korean dishes, and for the first time ever, I got to hear my story read aloud on New Year’s Eve.

julia book

julia book 2

My niece Julia wasn’t yet born when the book was first published almost twenty years ago, and she never experienced those big, noisy family gatherings I so fondly recall in the story. But at least she can still eat some of the same food! It was hilarious hearing her trying to pronounce the Korean phrases — but what a wonderful, expressive reader she is, and for a few moments, I was 7 years old again, smack dab in the middle of “so many Yangs!” 🙂

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♥ love me some latkes, part two ♥

Mmmmmmm, latkes!

“Latkes for Hanukkah” by Anat Sifri

Everyone can’t seem to get enough. Don’t worry, when your belly’s full, you can rest between platefuls by feasting on these warm, crispy, fluffy, savory, salty, lip-smacking picture books, and then you can fry up some more!

Today I’m serving up 8 of my favorites, one for each night of Hanukkah. There’s a little bit of everything in the mix — family and friends, folklore, legend, magic, humor, and miracles! Enjoy these heartwarming, satisfying stories and pass the applesauce!

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