[review + giveaway] Spine Poems by Annette Dauphin Simon

Annette Dauphin Simon first discovered the delights of found verse about a decade ago while working as a bookseller for an independent bookshop in Florida. 

Titles by Vivian Gornick/Nina Laden and Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Unfinished Business
You Are a Beautiful Beginning

One rainy Sunday afternoon, during a lull following a rush of customers, she and a colleague looked at the stacks of books lying in disarray around the store. After laughing at the random arrangement of titles resulting from genres mingling together, they came up with their own game of “rearrangements.”

Titles by Billy Collins/Adam Rex.
The Trouble With Poetry
Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Science fiction + business. History + mystery. A book from here with a book from there. Creating these collages from other people’s words was so much fun. Since some of their new constructions appeared poem-like, they called them “found verses,” not knowing at the time that it’s a recognized form of writing dating back to the 1920s.

Titles by Jenny Offill and Barry Blitt/Julia Sarcone-Roach/Dana Alison Levy/Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri.
While You Were Napping
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
It Wasn't Me
Dragons Love Tacos

Well, Annette was hooked. She shared new verses with her colleagues on a regular basis and documented her spine poetry with her camera. She shared her poems on social media and even turned some of them into greeting cards. 

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy September! Apple for the teacher? Perhaps you’d like to visit a busy outdoor market, enjoy a relaxing picnic, or steep yourself in the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen?

Elena Narkevich’s beautiful acrylic on canvas naïve paintings are characterized by vibrant colors, inventive compositions, precise details, and a strong narrative component. 

Born in Minsk, Belarus, but now living and working in Spain, Elena is able to capture a wide range of human emotions in her pictures: happiness, love, surprise, delight, wonder, sometimes sadness. 

Her dynamic and joyful scenes from everyday life, sometimes laced with a touch of humor or irony, are widely accessible because of their uncomplicated universal themes. 

Love her work! For more, visit Elena’s Instagram. Originals may be purchased via 1stDibs.com, and prints are available at Art.com and AllPosters.com.


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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy December! Though the holidays will definitely feel different this year, we can still daydream about idyllic times past. No better way than to escape into Jane Newland’s art.

Fancy the peaceful countryside or a brisk winter walk? 🙂

You may remember when we featured Jane’s work last year. She’s from the UK and does all her work digitally. Her lovely scenes are calming and filled with exquisite detail.

Deep breath. Deep breath. Ahhhhh . . .

Check out her website shop to purchase prints, and for the latest, follow her on Instagram.


2. Speaking of the holidays, here’s a sweet gift for a special friend (or why not treat yourself?). Yes, you deserve it. 🙂

Susan Branch’s latest book is called Home for Christmas (Spring Street Publishing, 2020):

A brand new book from  New York Times bestselling author and watercolor artist Susan Branch. Home for Christmas is a heart-warming tale of a childhood Christmas in the years after World War II, with Susan, her parents and her siblings. A book for all ages, told from a child’s perspective, filled with anticipation and hope, it’s a charming story about the enduring love of family that reads like a long illustrated letter. A beautiful Christmas gift, because we need a little EXTRA Christmas now. 

We certainly need an extra large dose of nostalgia this holiday season, especially since many of us will not be attending the usual in-person family gatherings. There’s nothing more comforting than fond memories, reminding us to cherish the times we’ve had and to give us hope that good times will come again.

You probably know I’m a longtime Susan Branch fan; can’t get enough of her charming hand-lettered books and watercolor art. I love her eternal optimism (“happy gene”) and as far as I know, no one does heartwarming better. Her gift books and cookbooks are all treasures. Add this one to your collection.

*More about this book in an upcoming post. 🙂


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[#MoreforAKR] celebrating amy krouse rosenthal’s birthday with COOKIE book illustrator jane dyer (+ amy’s favorite cookies and a giveaway!)

“INSPIRE means, Seeing what you’ve done here fills me with energy and new thoughts and the desire to now try to see what I can do!” ~ Amy Krouse Rosenthal (One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond)

About ten years ago, I read my first Amy Krouse Rosenthal book, her adult memoir Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. It spoke to me because I’m an alphabet freak, and I’d never seen anyone tell her life’s story in a series of quirky alphabetized entries, a free-flowing yet carefully curated non-linear celebration of simply being alive.

I loved Amy’s penchant for cataloging ideas, recalibrating time, pruning memory. She embraced spontaneity and serendipity, indulging an irrepressible passion for making, creating and connecting. In the playground of her brilliant mind, she made the muddy, crystal clear; the cliché, passé; the ordinary, extraordinary.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal lost her battle with ovarian cancer on March 13, 2017.

After reading her memoir, I looked forward to each of her children’s picture books. Like a fairy godmother, Amy could wave her intuitive magic wand and make time-worn concepts and storylines fresh, relevant, and fun. Her joy and heart were infectious, and she had an uncanny knack for imparting advice and wisdom with a light, whimsical touch.

Goldie and Baby Bear

About twenty-five years ago, I purchased a copy of Baby Bear’s Bedtime Book, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jane Dyer. As an avid teddy bear collector, I was mad for bear books and instantly fell in love with Goldie and Baby Bear. There was such warmth in Jane Dyer’s pictures, a quaint old-fashioned charm and innocence that made me feel safe and comforted.

I’ve been a Dyer fan ever since, swooning over her work in Piggins, Time for Bed, Animal Crackers, I Love You Like Crazycakes, Blue Moon Soup, the Little Brown Bear series, and more recently, Oh My Baby, Little One, The House That’s Your Home, and All We Know. Sweet, but never cloying, gentle and endearing, her human and animal characters are always rendered with such love.

from The House That’s Your Home, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones (2015)

I want to inhabit her cozy interiors with their wainscoted walls, polka dot curtains and checked tablecloths, and befriend the adorable dogs, cats, bunnies and sheep dressed in human clothing.

GENEROUS means offering some to others (COOKIES: Bite-Size Life Lessons)

Needless to say, I was over the moon when I saw Amy and Jane’s first COOKIE book. Two of the very people I’d admired for so long in the same book!  Double the goodness, double the joy! 🙂

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a pair of fun foodie gift books

Actually, you don’t have to be a card-carrying foodie to love these two new Fall 2013 books.

Both encourage us to play with our food and appreciate food as art. Nothing I like more than a fanciful feast. 🙂


EAT YOUR ART OUT: Playful Breakfasts by IdaFrosk (Kontur Publishing, 2013). Norwegian food artist/enthusiast Ida Skivenes has been posting her creative breakfasts on Instagram every day since the summer of 2012.

She believes food should be healthy, tasty and fun. Most of the breakfast plates featured in her book take between 5-15 minutes to prepare, require simple equipment and available ingredients, and all are meant to be eaten. What started on a whim one morning has turned into a great food adventure (100,000+ followers, international media coverage, columns in newspapers and magazines, special projects).

I love that her first ever creations were a bear and a fox. She also includes a few tips and recipes for pancakes, hot cereal, granola, scones, and nut butter. Check out her blog for behind-the-scenes pics and background on her Instagram features. Fun for all ages!

Feed the Panda (and yourself) All images © 2013 Ida Skivenes

Crazy Like a British Scone Fox

Little Red Strawberry Riding in the Hood

Edvard Munch: “Scream” (Art Toast Project)

* * *


BIG APPETITES: Tiny People in a World of Big Food by Christopher Boffoli (Workman Publishing, 2013). This is a collection of Boffoli’s internationally-known series of photographs featuring tiny people posing in real food environments. Amusing, outlandish, snarky, and handily skewing our sense of perspective, Boffoli’s photos tease the imagination, whet the appetite for worlds beyond our own, and enable us to see common food items as never before — for their beauty, intense color, and wonderful textures. Readers of all ages will be drawn to these fascinating scenes, but the tongue-in-cheek captions will likely go over the heads of most kids. Have you ever dreamed of playing golf on a split papaya, mowing an orange peel,  bathing in blue Jell-O? Feast your eyes!

“With market prices skyrocketing, strawberry seeds were disappearing into the hands of poachers” (© 2013 C. Boffoli)

“A chance taken on a new path led them to swear off pineapple riding forever”

“Everyone just wanted to relax. But after Deborah got a few beers in her, she just wouldn’t stop talking”

“An elite squad was not always successful against superior numbers”


♥ Find out more about Seattle-based photographer Christopher Boffoli at his official website (and check out that giant pumpkin pie).


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.