author chat: alan woo on maggie’s chopsticks

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Vancouver-based author, poet, champion noodle slurper and chopstick twirler Alan Woo to Alphabet Soup today!

Alan’s debut picture book, Maggie’s Chopsticks, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant and published by Kids Can Press, has been receiving glowing reviews and well deserved blog love ever since its release in August.

In this charming, lyrically told story of self discovery, young Maggie learns how to use her new chopsticks as family members scold, laugh, and offer conflicting advice. She watches as each demonstrates the “right” way: Grandma’s “click-clack-clicketing” scrabble and shovel; Mother’s quick, sharp, flip, flop; Brother’s strong, sure grip; Sister’s graceful dancing sticks. Maggie tries and tries — twirling, circling, holding closer to the top, nearer the bottom, but they still say she’s doing it wrong. It’s only with Father’s gentle reassurance that Maggie finally finds her right way and is reminded that since each person is unique, it shouldn’t matter what other people think.

Hungry young readers will easily identify with Maggie’s struggle to master a new skill, enjoy meeting her colorful family, and cheer her victory. And yes, like me, they’ll likely drool at how Isabelle Malenfant, with her warm palette of vibrant reds and oranges, has set the family table with tantalizing Chinese food (cha siu bao! ha gau!), and love the winsome cat who licks its chops while waiting patiently for a piece of shrimp.

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Happy World Hello Day!

Hey there Cutie Pie, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to greet ten people today.

That’s right! Just ten people in the name of peace, to show world leaders the power and importance of personal communication rather than force to settle conflicts. Since 1973, 180+ countries have been participating — people taking a moment to say hello in dozens of different languages — on the street, in the office, at schools, in cities, farms, stores, on buses, boats, trains, subways, even in fields of waving grain, and oh yes!, in restaurants! Anyone can participate, anywhere.


Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name . . .

I know you can do it! With your winning smile, flexible eyebrows and unending charm — go ahead and surprise ten lucky strangers with this small act of kindness and see what happens! These days it’s kinda shocking when people actually take the time to make eye contact, crack a smile, or basically acknowledge that there’s another human being breathing thinking standing right beside them. Sad but true. And we’re all guilty of it. (ahem) Love our devices much?

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passion in pittsburgh: with this cookie, i thee wed

Cookies for the bride and groom.

Do you fancy a cream-filled lady lock, a rich chocolatey buckeye, a peanut butter blossom?

No need to toil in your kitchen beating butter, sugar, eggs, and flour into submission or raid your neighborhood bakery. Just invite yourself to a Pittsburgh wedding!

Those in-the-know will tell you that a well laden Cookie Table is absolutely de rigueur in the Steel City, where skyscrapers tickle the clouds and arched yellow bridges invite exciting adventures on both sides of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers.

I’m happy to report that since I attended my first Pittsburgh wedding about two weeks ago, I am now officially in-the-know. Just call me “Crumbs.”

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soup of the day: happy birthday, tree! and the schmutzy family by madelyn rosenberg (and a double giveaway)!

What could be better than celebrating a first book by a fellow Virginia author?

Why, celebrating TWO first books, of course, yes TWO — by our favorite guitar playin’, Bob Dylan-lovin’, popcorn eatin’ ace reporter turned fiction writer Madelyn Rosenberg!!


And this is just as it should be — since Maddie (I can call her that cause I’m older) is twice as nice, twice as smart, and twice as cute. We are thrilled to be sending out twice the love♥ today for her two debut picture books, The Schmutzy Family, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Holiday House, 2012); and Happy Birthday Tree!: A Tu B’Shevat Story illustrated by Jana Christy (Albert Whitman, 2012).

Art © 2012 Paul Meisel

I hope you’re in double the partying mood cause we’ve got lots of pictures and snacks and tasty things to say about both of Ms. Rosenberg’s new books :). We’re even revealing a little-known secret: Madelyn may be a very talented writer and all-around good person, but . . . she’s a tad messy! *ssshhh* More on that later.

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chatting with cobi kim about veggietorials

I’m excited today to welcome my lovely niece, Cobi Kim, to the Alphabet Soup kitchen!

Cobi hosts the beautiful food blog, Veggietorials, where she shares her passion for all things plant-based. She features delicious recipes, product reviews for items she uses in her daily life, travel and cooking videos, and lots of photos and tips about what to order when eating out.

She prefers “plant-based” and “vegan-ish”  when describing her lifestyle, choosing not to call herself a “vegan,” since she is uncomfortable with labels that tend to separate rather than unite us. She aligns herself with the principle of “Ahimsa,” doing no harm by leading a life of non-violence.

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