9 cool things on a tuesday

abc bear pillow (made of natural organic hemp with embroidered alphabet and felt pocket) by Pi’lo

1. This could be the pillow of my dreams — the alphabet + a pocket with a teddy bear! Shall we pause for a moment of deep appreciation?  *sigh*  Toronto-based Heather Shaw is the artisan behind the P i’ l o collection of home goods, which includes tea towels, bags, mobiles, toys, notebooks, sachets, printed tapes, shawls, stationery and wall art. Everything is carefully made by hand with natural materials (cotton, linen, hemp, rocks) in a coach house studio with the hope that these items will be passed down as family heirlooms.

Typewriter Case
Printed Tape

Both her home and work space are serene and soothing environments filled with inspiration. Heather creates objects of beautiful simplicity — just looking at her collection makes me feel calm, cleansed and relaxed.

Recipe Card Case

Find out more at the Pi’lo website. You can purchase there or at Heather’s Etsy Shop.


2. New book alert! Coretta Scott King Honor author Tanita S. Davis has just published a young adult novel called Peas and Carrots (Knopf, 2016)! Ooh-la-la — is that the best title ever, or what? This story is about 15-year-old Dess and how she adjusts to her new foster family. Check it:


Dess knows that nothing good lasts. Disappointment is never far away, and that’s a truth that Dess has learned to live with.

Dess’s mother’s most recent arrest is just the latest in a long line of disappointments, but this one lands her with her baby brother’s foster family. Dess doesn’t exactly fit in with the Carters. They’re so happy, so comfortable, so normal, and Hope, their teenage daughter, is so hopelessly naïve. Dess and Hope couldn’t be more unlike each other, but Austin loves them both like sisters. Over time their differences, insurmountable at first, fall away to reveal two girls who want the same thing: to belong.

Tanita herself was a foster sister from the age of nine until she graduated from college. I’ve been a fan of her writing since first reading A la Carte (Knopf, 2008) — yes, a foodie book with recipes! — and then, of course, thoroughly enjoyed the award winning Mare’s War (Knopf, 2009), as well as Happy Families (Knopf, 2012)the first YA novel I ever read featuring a transgender character. She is brilliant at exploring family dynamics and personal identity, making the reader question long-held stereotypes and assumptions about race, gender, and body image. I just started reading Peas and Carrots, which is told from Dess’s and Hope’s points of view in alternating chapters, and I love how both voices ring true with raw emotional honesty. The book has already garnered very favorable reviews from School Library Journal, PW, and Kirkus. Check out Tanita’s guest posts at Stacked Books and John Scalzi’s Big Idea, her Five Questions interview at The Horn Book, and her YA Open Mic contribution at Barnes & Noble.


Continue reading

chatting about the moogees with author/illustrator leslie mcguirk


Don’t move a muscle. Word on the street is that the Moogees are on the move!

If you’re really lucky, they just might move in right next door to you. In the meantime, you can read all about them in this fun and whimsical new picture book, The Moogees Move House, written and illustrated by the endlessly creative, and yes, quirky, Leslie McGuirk.

It’s always a treat to see just what Leslie will do next. You may remember the last time she was here to chat about her amazing alphabet book, If Rocks Could Sing (Tricycle Press, 2011), or the time before that, when she and co-author Alex von Bidder shared tasty tidbits about Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant (Candlewick Press, 2009). Doggone delish!

In The Moogees Move House, a family of fanciful creatures searches for a new home. The perky, picky, peculiar-looking Moogees want something round, on the ground, “with class and a nice wide yard and plenty of grass.” With the help of Moogee realtor Mr. Ruru, they see and then reject homes that are too blue, too expensive, and too cheesy (if it were me, I’d move in immediately with a lifetime stash of crackers). Will they ever find just the right house? And what do the three baby Moogees know all along, as they scream, waa waa moogee doogee wee wee low lum!?

Continue reading

if rocks could sing: a discovered alphabet by leslie mcguirk!

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

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Oh. My. God.

This has got to be the most astonishing alphabet collection ever — the coolest of the cool, the most unique and inspiring gift from nature anyone has ever received!

Some time ago, author/illustrator Leslie McGuirk began taking a closer look at the sedimentary rocks on a stretch of Florida beach near her home. These fascinating natural sculptures, smoothed and shaped by thousands of years of wave action, consisted of grains of sand and fossilized shell fragments “glued together” by a chemical in the seawater. Yes, they were all amazing and beautiful, each in its own way, but it was Leslie who noticed that some resembled letters of the alphabet.

She soon became obsessed (my kind of woman), and began collecting these special letter rocks, as well as rocks resembling objects beginning with each letter. She did this for over ten years. Patient, persistent, eyes open, heart waiting. One by one, they revealed themselves to her. And now, she’s sharing her collection with the world in her brand new book, If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet (Tricycle Press, 2011), which will be officially released on Tuesday, May 24th!

Continue reading

going to the dogs with leslie mcguirk and alex von bidder

Note: This is a polite post about a very polite book. Please wipe your paws before reading and wag your tail whenever one of our guests says something especially witty or charming.

Leslie and Alex at Books of Wonder, NYC, September 2009.

Welcome, friends!

Thank you for grooming yourselves and arriving precisely on time. Your table is ready!

Today’s menu features a mini-review and chat with the creators of this year’s most fetching picture book, Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant (Candlewick, 2009). The story of how author/illustrator Leslie McGuirk and restaurateur Alex von Bidder let the Four Seasons go to the dogs has set tongues wagging on Bark Avenue and beyond.

Continue reading