[review + yummy cake recipe] Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit by Linda E. Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati

 

Once upon another time, I was lucky enough to visit England’s glorious Lake District, where vistas of pristine lakes, rolling green pastures dotted with sheep, lush vales, charming stone cottages, miles of slate and dry stone walls bordering fertile farmland, and magnificent fells rising in the distance took my breath away.

I was curious to see the area after learning that England’s greatest poets and writers had flocked there for three centuries. Though studying the Romantic poets in college had stirred my wanderlust (my “friends” Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Blake, and Byron enabled me to envision this paradise on earth), it wasn’t until I fully tuned into Beatrix Potter’s connection with Lakeland that I became totally smitten. Visiting Hill Top Farm made me a forever diehard fan.

 

Hill Top Farm, Near Sawrey

 

Beatrix didn’t just love the countryside, she helped preserve it for future generations. And she established this amazing legacy at a time when it was not proper for women to “travel, attend college, or work.” Her groundbreaking accomplishments are highlighted in this wonderful new picture book, Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit, by Linda Elovitz Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati (little bee books, 2020).

Young readers will find it interesting that in addition to writing the beloved Peter Rabbit books, Beatrix was also a natural scientist, savvy businesswoman, sheep farmer, and ardent conservationist.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. UK illustrator and self-described “glutton” Livi Gosling created this cool illustration for the children’s book, Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers and Rebels, written by Linda Skeers (Sourcebooks Explore, 2017).

 

 

Perhaps you’ve read it? 🙂

Must admit I first discovered Livi’s work because of her food illustrations. Somehow, delightful drawings of pies, veggies, salads and sangria always catch my eye.

 

 

 

Livi’s portfolio includes a variety of interesting editorial illustrations — not only foodie ones, but wonderful maps, cityscapes and outdoor scenes for clients such as Taproot, Conde Nast, and the Telegraph. Love her refreshing, upbeat, charming style.

 

 

 

Yes, I was extra excited to see this animal alphabet:

 

 

And this one of various teas (odd that coffee is there too)!

 

 

Do visit Livi’s Official Website to learn more about her process, and browse her Etsy Shop to purchase maps and prints (she also does custom maps and portraits).

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Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari and Jonathan Voss

 

Once in a great while, we’ll hear a “hoo-hoo-HOOOOO-hoo” coming from our woods in the middle of the night. OWL!

We’re always delighted by this rare sound, since the hooting is our only indication that there really are owls out there. Unlike all the other birds we commonly see (robins, woodpeckers, nuthatches, crows, bluebirds, chickadees, cardinals, wrens), our owly friends, by virtue of being nocturnal and mysterious, like to keep us guessing.

Since it’s pitch black outside (no streetlights), I’ve never actually seen any of the great horned owls that we like to assume are calling to us. They seem to enjoy being elusive, thereby heightening their allure.

Reading Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story, a new poetry picture book by Maria Gianferrari and Jonathan Voss (Putnam, 2020), gave me the perfect opportunity to learn more about these magnificent creatures.

I love the idea of a story told entirely in haiku, and Gianferrari brilliantly manages the challenging feat of creating an engaging, suspenseful narrative while imparting essential facts about the life cycle of the most common owl in North America.

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J’adore Nathalie Lété!

 

 

Oh, so charming, beautiful, enchanting, distinctive — Nathalie Lété’s art! I was attracted to her unique style upon first seeing her decorated plates at Anthropologie.

 

 

 

 

As you probably know, I’m a ceramics freak, and loved her flowers, birds, and folkloric motifs before I actually knew who she was. Until I did a little research, I HAD NO IDEA her designs were everywhere, and I mean on everything from clothing, rugs, fabrics, children’s toys, greeting cards, postcards, and lampshades, to jewelry, linens, totes, and in children’s, graphic, and coloring books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s a global brand extraordinaire with huge markets not only in Europe, but also in Japan and Australia. Mixing various media and techniques, she is that rare artist whose work has enormous commercial appeal. She’s worked very hard to establish herself in a highly competitive field.

 

 

 

Nathalie is a Paris native, the only child of a German mother and Chinese father. She credits her mother with reading extensively to her as she grew up, claiming that the themes she loved from childhood — flowers, animals, textile patterns, fairy tales, toys, folk art — are what continue to inspire her work today. She loved the children’s book illustrations she saw and spent lots of alone time drawing and living in her imagined world.

 

 

She spent her holidays with her grandmother in Bavaria, where she enjoyed exploring the forest (her favorite fairy tale is “Little Red Riding Hood”). Even now, when she is in nature, she recalls those good feelings and tries to convey them in her art.

 

 

 

She also credits her father with influencing her artistic sensibility. Though he was often absent because of work, she remembers her home being filled with lots of silk paintings.

 

 

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[review + recipes] Cooking with Bear by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar

 

When the snow begins to melt and early morning bird song fills the air, everybear knows spring is coming. Time to yawn, stretch, wake up from long winter naps and get cooking!

Loud whoops and hollers erupted in the Alphabet Soup kitchen when Mr Cornelius and the other resident bears first saw Cooking with Bear: A Story and Recipes from the Forest, by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar (Groundwood Books, 2019).

They were certain Ms. Hodges had written the book just for them, and with the fist pumps, prancing, drooling, and yes, page licking, it was all I could do to get them to pawse for a minute to take a breath. 🙂

 

 

Cooking with Bear is the companion book to Bear’s Winter Party (2016), where we are first introduced to amiable, good-hearted Bear. Since the other animals in the forest are understandably wary of him (sharp teeth, long claws, so big!), he spends most of his time alone. Bear decides to change that by throwing a party.

After sprucing up his den, he whips up some huckleberry tarts, honey-ginger cookies, and spiced cranberry tea. Deer, Beaver, Fox, Hare, Chickadee, and Squirrel all have a great time singing, dancing, and getting acquainted with Bear over his homemade treats. At party’s end, they leave Bear to settle down for his winter’s nap. Now he’s content that when spring arrives, he’ll have “a forest full of friends.”

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