celebrating colin firth’s birthday with goodnight mr darcy, a recipe and a special giveaway!

Dear Mr. Firth,

You must allow us to tell you how ardently we admire and love you.

To celebrate your 54th birthday, we’re serving up a 3-course repast here at Alphabet Soup: a brand new picture book, a spot of tea, and you.

Whether as Fitzwilliam Darcy or Mark Darcy, you truly take the cake. May we be so bold as to say you are stunning wet, dry, and everything in-between?

And boy, can you rock a cravat and waistcoat.

We remain your loyal fans, wishing you the best birthday ever.

With deep affection and hearts a-flutter,

Every female in the world with a pulse

*   *   *

Goodnight Mr Darcy by Kate Coombs and Alli Arnold

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an earnest writer and a department store sniffing artist in possession of talent and wit must be in want of a good parody.

For award winning author Kate Coombs and award-winning illustrator Alli Arnold, a send-up of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice à la beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon was just the thing to set their bonnets a-twirl.

In the great ballroom
There was a country dance
And a well-played tune
And Elizabeth Bennet —

So begins this tidy tale of moonlight and romance, as all are gathered at the Netherfield Ball — Lydia and Kitty looking pretty, Mr Darcy surprised by a pair of fine eyes, Jane with a blush and Mr Bingley turned to mush, and let’s not forget a certain gossiping mother and a father saying ‘hush’.

Those familiar with Pride and Prejudice know that the Ball is a crucial scene — where Darcy has singled out Elizabeth, and caught off-guard, she agrees to dance with him. They are allowed to engage in unchaperoned conversation (gasp!), their unguarded repartee ever-so-temptingly weakening their resolve.

In Goodnight Mr Darcy (Gibbs Smith, 2014), Kate has retained the simple rhyming structure and lulling cadence of Brown’s Goodnight Moon, but with a brilliant tongue-against-blushing cheek makeover that outlines all the delectable aspects of the prim and proper Darcy/Lizzy conscious coupling from ‘cute meet’ at the dance to mutual mooning over each other at home to happily ever after. The Mr Bingley and Jane pairing adds a bit of ‘mushy’ humor boys will appreciate, while the whole concept of a fancy dress ball with tipping of top hats, flitting of fans and oh-so-civilized how-de-do’s will have special appeal to girls.

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friday feast: kate coombs on water sings blue


Big heartfelt congratulations to Kate Coombs, everyone’s favorite Book Aunt, on the official release this week of Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems (Chronicle Books, 2012)!

This book is an absolute stunner — perhaps you’ve already read Marjorie’s fine review at Paper Tigers, or have seen the *starred* reviews from Kirkus or Publishers Weekly, which praises Kate’s “surprising personification and unexpected imagery.” This wholly captivating, gorgeously illustrated collection of lyrical, whimsical, and wistful poems will charm and delight readers of all ages, and is easily my favorite poetry book of 2012 thus far, and I dare say, one of the finest themed poetry collections for children ever. It’s a superb example of poetry as art, art as poetry.

We’ve got a real treat today, because Kate has graciously agreed to tell us about the genesis of Water Sings Blue, as well as share a little backstory for six sample poems. So,  get comfy under your beach umbrella, listen to the waves breaking on the shore, dig your toes in the sand, and let the wonder of these poems wash over you.


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kate coombs brings a hot dish

#19 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2011.

Hola! ¿Qué pasa?

The lovely and brilliant Kate Coombs, Ms. Book Aunt herself, is here to spice things up! I just learned she speaks fluent Spanish and comes from a very cool multiethnic family — a blend of Caucasian, Korean, Filipino, and Samoan. I’d call that a pretty tasty mix, wouldn’t you? Think about it: pancakes for breakfast, japchae and kimchi for lunch, pancit for dinner. Yum!

Today, Kate’s sharing three poems inspired by her teaching experiences in a primarily Latino district near downtown Los Angeles. They are from an unpublished bilingual collection called Street of Songs, and will whet your appetite for pupusas and tamales. Hot stuff!

Pico-Union street scene

Kate: Street of Songs/Calle de Canciones is a group of poems about the life of a third grader named Lily Quiñonez who lives in L.A.’s Pico-Union neighborhood. My inspiration was teaching elementary school for five years in that part of L.A. — actually Koreatown, but the local population, not the working population, is predominantly Latino.

Then I became a teacher for the school district’s home/hospital program. I was invited to the children’s homes for birthday parties while at the grade school, and I’ve spent a lot of time since in Latino homes as a teacher of seriously ill students — cancer and post-surgery patients, among others. I’ve met so many terrific kids, and mischievous kids, you name it. I wanted other people to meet them, too! So I began writing about them, and I ended up with the Lily poems.

via Andrea

by Kate Coombs

Corn grows along the fence
of my godmother’s house,
a row of green Aztec feathers.

Inside each ear,
yellow pyramids yearn
to step up to the sun.

© 2011 Kate Coombs. All rights reserved.


via mattmadden123

by Kate Coombs

Have you ever bitten
into a chili like a dragon’s smile
and breathed out a red sun?

© 2011 Kate Coombs. All rights reserved.


via Andy Hagedon

Ay caramba! My mouth’s on fire. Good thing Kate brought a poem to cool things down. Ahhhhhhh!

via Matushka Elizabeth

by Kate Coombs

I chase the little cart breathless
with my three quarters and choose
a hidden treasure from its cold heart.

Now the mango ice slides
down the stick like rain
down the stem of an orange flower

as I try to eat my paleta lick by lick
before the sun can swallow it.

© 2011 Kate Coombs. All rights reserved.


Paleteria in Northeast L.A.

I’m quite jealous as I’ve never had a paleta before. And I love mango! Lucky Lily. The collection sounds wonderful and I hope to see it in print sometime soon. But now, tengo hambre (I’m hungry)!

Kate: I will admit I’m usually writing or teaching rather than cooking, but this is one of my sure-fire recipes. I got it from a friend of the family. It is astonishingly tasty and, better yet, extremely easy to make.




1 (15 or 16-oz.) can of chili; I use Stagg’s Turkey Ranchero
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese


Put the chili in a microwave-safe dish and plop the cream cheese on top. Heat till the cream cheese melts about halfway and stir mixture; then heat another 30-60 seconds (depending on your microwave). Stir to blend well. The dip should have a creamy consistency and be pale orange in color. Let cool for five minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips — blue corn if you want to get fancy.

Note: Try to avoid eating the whole thing yourself!

Well, I couldn’t resist trying this dip and served it on Easter. The unanimous reaction: Es la bomba! Kate was absolutely right. Really tasty, lipsmackingly delish, and very addictive. I imagine depending on the brand or hotness of the chili you use, flavors could vary quite a bit. Only one thing to do — try lotsa different chilis till you find the one that titillates your tortilla chips. ☺

Author, poet, teacher and Curriculum Specialist Kate Coombs writes for children and teens, and has published an original folktale, The Secret-Keeper (Atheneum, 2006), and two middle grade comic fantasies, The Runaway Princess (2006) and The Runaway Dragon (2009), both released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Honors include ALA Notable Book and Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year for The Runaway Princess, and Junior Library Guild Selection and Parents’ Choice Recommended Book for The Secret-Keeper.

Kate has been writing poems, plays and stories since childhood, and began writing fairy tales right after college. Her most recent publication is a short story, “Impossible Quests,” in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress XXV. She has three more books in the pipeline: a retelling of the Grimms’ folktale, Hans My Hedgehog (Atheneum, 2012), a book of ocean poems, The Water Sings Blue (Chronicle, 2012), and another picture book from Atheneum called The Tooth Fairy Wars (pub date TBD). Kate is currently revising her first YA paranormal, and is planning a third Runaway book. You can find Kate online at her official website, book review blog, Book Aunt, and at Miss Rumphius’s Monday Poetry Stretches. She’s also a regular Poetry Friday participant and has been known, on select occasions, to flicker her nostrils with abandon (well, she does cavort with dragons). Correction to blog title: Kate Coombs IS a hot dish!




Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.