[review] Tierra, Tierrita/Earth, Little Earth/Tal, Talchin by Jorge Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

She is the oldest and most beautiful mother of all the elders. At once gentle and powerful, she is mountain, seed, cornfield, flower. Mother Earth. She is all and everything; she is life itself.

In Tierra, Tierrita/Earth, Little Earth (Piñata Books, 2023), Mother Earth introduces herself, detailing her expanse, majesty, and ongoing evolution. The fourth title in Argueta and Alcántara’s award-winning trilingual Madre Tierra/Mother Earth series about the natural world, it follows Agua, Agüita/Water, Little Water; Fuego/Fueguito/Fire, Little Fire; and Viento, Vientito/Wind, Little Wind. All four books illustrate the interconnectedness of all living things and express a deep reverence for our precious planet.

Mi nombre es Tierra
pero todos me conocen por Tierrita.

Yo soy la Madre Tierra
Ilena de todos los colores
y de todos los sabores.


My name is Earth
but people call me Little Earth.

I am Mother Earth
full of all the colors
and all the flavors.

Encompassing north, south, east and west, she is the Mother of Water, Fire, and Wind. Though others may call her “planet,” “nature,” or “creation,” she most likes “Mother Earth, Little Earth.” Spinning around the sun since time immemorial, she sings of flora and fauna, and is “the tiniest insect, the juiciest fruit, the most delicious greens you’ve ever tasted.”

Continue reading

[colorful review] Rainbow Shopping by Qing Zhuang

Are you up for a little food shopping? Come along then, let’s go!!

New York’s Chinatown is our destination, as we read about a Chinese American girl and her mother buying ingredients for a family dinner. Written and illustrated by Qing Zhuang (“ching juong”), Rainbow Shopping (Holiday House, 2023) is a delectable feast for the senses that touches the heart.

The story opens on a rainy Saturday, where a little girl who feels “as gray as a pigeon” is in bed sketching. She’s wistful and lonely, missing her native China. Everything is different in New York, and her parents and grandmother are always busy working.

But on this Saturday, her mom pulls her out of bed, telling her that since everyone will be home for dinner, they need to go to Chinatown for special ingredients. After a long subway ride, they first stop at the bakery for a snack: strawberry cheesecake for her, a sesame ball with red bean filling for her mom.

Then it’s time to shop! They get fresh garlic, ginger, scallions and bamboo shoots, sweet red persimmons, mysterious mushrooms that “curl like thunderclouds,” and the bumpiest squash among “rows of vegetables in a hundred greens.”

They next explore “long aisles of noodles, sauces, spices, pickles and tea,” making sure to add medicinal herbs for Grandma and “numbingly hot peppers for Dad” to their cart. At the seafood section, the girl notes “the fish seem to stare,” right before she rounds the corner to the candy aisle — were she grabs everything (but Mom says can only have one bag)!

Continue reading

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy March! We’re looking forward to spring and all things green and floral with Olivia Gibbs’ lovely art. So colorful and joyful!

Born and raised in Spain, Olivia is self taught and currently resides in Augusta, Georgia. She’s been smitten with drawing since childhood, when she’d spend hours creating stories in her sketchbook.

Since art didn’t seem like a viable career option, she studied Business Administration in college and then worked in banking for many years. But when her second daughter was born, she was able to stay at home and renew her interest in art, her true passion.

In addition to drawing and painting, Olivia loves traveling and exploring new places and cultures. She’s also keen on hiking, baking, dancing, finding the beauty in everyday life, and spending time with loved ones. 

Her client list includes American Greetings, Galison/Mudpuppy, Oopsy Daisy, Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Ann Fabric. 

She recently published this book:

For more, visit Olivia’s Official Website, Instagram and Etsy Shop, where you can purchase prints.


Continue reading

[spicy review] Anni Dreams of Biryani by Namita Moolani Mehra and Chaaya Prabhat

Right now I am dreaming of the perfect Indian meal: To start, aloo tikki and samosas with a side of black pepper poppadums to wake up the taste buds, followed by chicken tikka masala or chicken korma with a steamy platter of vegetable biryani. Must also have some warm onion kulcha and garlic naan, and for dessert, gulab jamun. Mmmmm!

via Kuwait Times

Savory and oh-so-aromatic – Indian cuisine is all about the spices, many of which begin with the letter ‘c’: cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom. Let’s not forget mustard seeds, red chili, garum masala, and turmeric. An added bonus is that many of these also have valuable medicinal benefits.

Though I’ve never cooked Indian food at home, the young girl in this new picture book, Anni Dreams of Biryani by Namita Moolani Mehra and Chaaya Prabhat (Two Lions, 2022), has inspired me to give it a try. I’m impressed by her passion for cooking and determination to make the best version of one of her favorite dishes.

Vegetable Biryani via Piping Pot Curry.

When the story opens, we learn Anni lives with her mother and grandmother across the street  from the Biryani Café in Little India. From her kitchen window, she has a bird’s eye view of the comings and goings of the bustling neighborhood. She listens to the “constant chatter of busy bikers, curious tourists, and weary workers” – all of whom are there to eat café owner Mr. Arif’s (Uncle’s) famous biryani.

It was, after all, the best biryani in the world. 

Fluffy and fragrant. Spicy and succulent. Absolutely addictive.

Anni loves it so much she could eat the savory rice dish every single day. But Grandma deems it should be a once-a-week treat, so they only have it on Fridays. 

Continue reading

[review] H is for Harlem by Dinah Johnson and April Harrison

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

If I had to choose one word to describe H is for Harlem, it would be “alive” – deliciously, soulfully, jubilantly alive. 

Generous in its carefully curated offerings and beautiful in its execution, this sumptuous abecedarian celebration of Harlem’s rich cultural history pulsates with energy, inviting readers to explore, discover, and marvel.

As author Dinah Johnson writes, “Harlem is a place like no other in the world . . . It is truly multicultural. But for a long time people have called Harlem the mecca of Black America, a place where African American culture is living and breathing, shining and indestructible.”

From “A is for Apollo Theater” to “Z is for Zora Neale Hurston,” we learn about Harlem’s unique treasures – seminal people, places, organizations, communities – making up the fascinating tapestry of this storied New York neighborhood. 

Johnson describes the well known (Harlem Globetrotters, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman) as well as the less familiar (Mabel Fairbanks, Impact Farm, Opportunity Magazine), with just enough facts to whet the appetite, encouraging further research.

Since I especially love music, I was happy to read about the iconic Apollo Theater, the Boys Choir of Harlem, and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. It was exciting seeing some of my faves mentioned: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Jennifer Hudson, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Marsalis. Just imagine the convergence of such genius and talent, the creative cross-fertilization among all the arts that continues today!

Johnson also tucked in some new-to-me nuggets along the way. Are you familiar with Cicely Tyson’s role in inspiring the creation of the Dance Theatre of Harlem? Though I was familiar with Zora Neale Hurston’s novels, I didn’t know she was also an anthropologist, or that she is credited by some to have been the first African American to debut a Broadway play.

Continue reading