snip, arrange, paste: alice lindstrom’s amazing paper collages

When Australian paper collage artist Alice Lindstrom was little, she liked cutting and pasting bits of paper to make her own staple-bound collage books. 

Looking back over the twists and turns of her creative journey, it seems paper collage had always been her true calling, as it’s a unique art form that wholly reflects her personality.

photo of Alice Lindstrom by Breena Dunbar

Though she’s now based in Melbourne, Alice grew up in the Adelaide countryside surrounded by animals and nature. Wanting to encourage her artistic skills, her parents sent her to schools that focussed on art. But when it came time for university, Alice chose to broaden her education to prepare for a “proper job.”

She earned a Bachelor of Humanities in Philosophy from the University of Adelaide, followed by a Bachelor of Design from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. After working as a theatre designer in Sydney, Alice returned to Adelaide, where she earned graduate degrees in Museum Studies and Art History.

She soon realized that getting a “real job” and treating art as a hobby was not going to work since her passion for art was just too strong. Rather than curate the work of others, she wanted to create her own art and illustrations.

Both Alice’s father and grandfather were born in Germany. Her grandfather was a painter who had a big influence on Alice. He and Alice’s grandmother worked at an art school in Berlin.

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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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[tasty talk] Melissa Iwai on Dumplings for Lili

Wrap me in joy, I’m filled with excitement: Brooklyn-based author/illustrator Melissa Iwai is here to tempt us with her scrumptious new picture book, Dumplings for Lili (Norton Young Readers, 2021) which officially hits shelves today!

You may remember when Melissa last visited several years ago to celebrate the release of Pizza Day, her tasty companion book to the perennial favorite Soup Day. You may also know that in addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, Melissa loves to cook, bake and develop her own recipes, making her the ideal person to spread the dumpling love.

In this deliciously heartwarming story, young Lili is ecstatic when her grandmother (Nai Nai) asks her to help make baos, Lili’s “favorite food in the whole world.” But Nai Nai discovers she’s out of cabbage, which they need to line the bamboo steamer basket. She sends Lili to see whether Babcia, who lives on the 6th floor of their apartment building, has any cabbage.

Since the elevator is down, Lili and her trusty canine companion Kiki skip up the five flights of stairs. After Babcia gives Lili a head of cabbage, she discovers she needs potatoes for her pierogi. 

No problem. Lili and Kiki hop down four flights of stairs to see whether Granma has any. Of course she does, but she needs some fresh garlic to make her meat patties.

Lili and Kiki end up racing upstairs and down, from apartment to apartment, dropping off and then borrowing more missing ingredients for several more grandmothers, who happen to be making tamales, ravioli and fatayer. 

After Lili and Nai Nai finally finish steaming their baos, they join all their neighbors for a special dumpling party in the garden, where they welcome the best dumpling treasure of all. 🙂

Melissa has lovingly blended just the right ingredients for this fun, flavorful tale that celebrates food, family, friendship, diversity and community.
Kids will enjoy tagging along with Lili and Kiki while learning about the different kinds of dumplings being prepared by Nai Nai, Babcia, Granma, Abuela, Nonna, and Teta. Six grandmas with six different dumplings — what could be better?

I love how Melissa wove the Eight Secrets Nai Nai taught Lili for “happy and delicious baos” right into the story (did you know bao dough enjoys catnaps and being hummed to?). Adorable! And of course she included a recipe for Nai Nai’s Baos at the end (after drooling through this story, readers will surely want to try making their own). 🙂

The mixed media illustrations really capture the warmth and personalities of all the characters, and hungry munchkins will want to linger over every spread as they study the delectable details. They’ll love following Kiki’s visual narrative and repeating the grandmothers’ multilingual exclamations in the speech bubbles.

With an engaging storyline that’s part relay, part cooking lesson, Melissa celebrates the humble dumpling as a universally beloved comfort food that joyously brings people together.

Now, let’s hear how Melissa cooked up her new book!

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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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[delectable review] Toasty by Sarah Hwang

“Woof woof woof!”

Is that your dog barking? No? Well, maybe it’s your toast. Best to check your picnic basket to be sure.

If you like your canines cute and quirky, you’ll lap up Sarah Hwang’s adorable debut picture book, Toasty (Holiday House, 2021). 🙂

This bread-on-a-leash charmer is all about discovering that the best way to be top dog is to be yourself.

When we first meet Toasty, he’s longingly watching dogs play and run outside his window. He loves dogs so much, he wants to  be one.

Sure, he isn’t quite like them. Instead of four legs, he’s got two arms and two legs. He sleeps in a toaster instead of a dog house, and he doesn’t have any fur or hair. Moreover, Toasty is made of bread.

He tries to do doggy things, like running, chasing cats, even rolling in puddles — but nothing works. Yet, he can bark like a dog.

So despite his differences, he puts on his best collar, grabs his “sparkly ball,” and goes to the park to play with the dogs. But when he tosses his ball, instead of them chasing after it, they chase after him. Uh-oh. Will Toasty soon be “toast”?

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