hotTEAS of Children’s Literature: Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than thirty children’s books, as well as The Nuts & Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Her books have been included in the “best of the year” lists of The New York Times, Parenting and Child magazines, the New York Public Library and more. She lives with her husband, son and two dogs in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: I have straight up black coffee first thing in the morning. Then, around 11:30, I have a soy latte with some sort of treat (for the record, a pecan scone today). My sister Liz gave me this mug as a reminder of growing up in New Jersey, and my very first job—waitressing at Dunkin’ Donuts.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Rock-a-Bye Romp, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, January 2016); Henry Wants More!, illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes (Penguin Random House, January 2016); All We Know, illustrated by Jane Dyer (HarperCollins, March 2016). Forthcoming: Hey, Coach!, illustrated by Kim Smith (Sterling, August 2016).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOKS: We must have read Seven Silly Eaters a zillion times when my son was small. We also loved Susan Meddaugh’s hilarious Martha books (the magical power of alphabet soup!). Oh, and Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly is really funny too.

 Visit Linda Ashman’s Official Website. She also blogs monthly at Learn more about Henry Wants More! in Linda’s Chat with illustrator Brooke Boynton Hughes, and about Rock-a-Bye Romp in Linda’s Chat with illustrator Simona Mulazzani.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out this great Welcome to My Studio feature at All the Wonders — you can see the different places where Linda likes to work in her lovely home.

☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: If you’re an aspiring or even a seasoned picture book writer, Linda’s Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books is a must read:

The Nuts and Bolts Guide is designed to work like a 9-week class. Each chapter includes detailed instruction on essential topics—things like building a story, experimenting with voice, creating memorable characters, writing rollicking read-alouds and pitch-perfect verse, playing with humor, and submitting your work—plus a reading list, interviews, tips, resources, and exercises to stimulate new ideas and apply to works-in-progress.

Click here for a free preview and to order your copy (available as a PDF or eBook for Kindle).


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

making mischief with linda ashman

#5 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012

To behold her sweet, angelic countenance, it’s hard to imagine this author could be capable of such naughtiness. But I suppose it’s further testament of Linda Ashman’s brilliance that she was capable of creating the nastiest, most obnoxious brats in the history of alphabet books. Just one more reason to love love love the work of one of my favorite children’s authors working today.

You may wish to keep a safe distance from the “guest” Linda has brought along to the Potluck. Catastrophic Coco has stepped out of the pages of Linda’s cautionary collection of miscreants, M is for Mischief : An A to Z of Naughty Children (Dutton, 2008), which as some of you may remember, I was brave enough to review here.

Though I’m a little nervous at having Coco in my kitchen, I admit to finding her oddly irresistible, as I do the other 25 characters in the book, which is an unforgettable feast of alphabetical disorder. While Coco’s busy cooking up chaos, I’m going to fill up on Linda’s tempting dish.

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we have a winner!

Ruff ruff!

Not here to pick a bone with you — *grin* — but to announce the lucky winner of the No Dogs Allowed! giveaway.

Once again, to avoid any untoward infighting amongst the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers, we consulted the ever responsible, always accurate, and this time, rather clippy Mr. Random Integer Generator.

Due to the cold weather, Mr. Generator was without his spiffy bowtie and instead opted to wear a burnt sienna mohair scarf. I dare say this was the perfect accessory to set off his camel hair dog suit, which set all tongues wagging within a five mile radius.

Despite his confident demeanor, Mr. Generator proved to be a rather sensitive soul. Though ecstatic to help select the winner, he did wipe away a few tears of disappointment for the other entrants.

Now, without further ado (will you, won’t you, scooby loop-de-doo), the winner of an autographed copy of No Dogs Allowed! by the always delicious Linda Ashman and Kristin Sorra is,

*drum roll, please*

CATHY MEALEY, who blogs over at Bildebok!!

CONGRATULATIONS, CATHY! Please email me with your snail mail address: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so we can get your prize out to you right away.

Other Puppy Dogs, thank you for entering. We have some freshly baked treats for you. May you find a fire hydrant around every corner.

Over and out.

♥ Tsk, tsk. Did you by chance miss the review of the book and chat with author Linda Ashman? Click here.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

noshes and nibbles, or, tell me who’s hot!


How are you? It’s been Brrrrrrrrr around here lately. The air is crackin’ with cold. Sip, sip the tea. Slurp, slurp the soup. Judging by how FAT the yard pets are, we’re probably in for much more of the same.

Fuzzy the Fox, Rocky Raccoon, Mr. Pampano the Possum and those crazy squirrels have all turned into puckishly rotund roly polies. Galump, galump. The squirrels still scamper and dash and make mad flying leaps — but they’re even more impressive wearing their thick, high end designer furs. Fuzzy is handsomer than ever with his rusty-rich luxuriant coat and has taken to “barking” outside the kitchen door when he’s low on puppy biscuits.

But on to today’s MENU:


Thank you, Heidi Mordhorst, for presenting me with the Versatile Blogger Award! As you may know, Heidi (poet, author, teacher, philosopher, champion lasagna maker) blogs over at My Juicy Little Universe, where I met her a couple of years ago through Poetry Friday. Since then, I’ve been charmed by her versatility and daily juggling act as she instills a love of poetry in  many exuberant munchkins, parents her own brood, and remains amazingly humble for someone who can clog, salsa, and create entire wardrobes of pasta earrings. And I still say she has the cutest smile. I’m honored that you find me versatile in any way, shape or form, Heidi. Perhaps it was my ability to love both soup and cupcakes with equal abandon that impressed you? ☺


~ from

The eyes of the publishing world will turn to Dallas at 7:45 a.m. CT on Jan.23, 2012, when the American Library Association (ALA) announces the top awards in children’s and young adult literature as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 20 – 24.

The ALA Youth Media Awards honor children’s and young adult authors and illustrators, as well as producers of children’s audio and video materials. Known worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards are selected under a cloak of secrecy by national judging committees composed of librarians and other children’s literature experts.

The ALA will announce 18 awards, including the renowned Caldecott and Newbery Medals, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Printz award.  The books honored serve as a guide for parents, educators, librarians and those interested in providing children and teens with the very best reading and viewing materials.

Bookmark this link so you’ll be all set to watch the live Webcast on Monday. Check in early to get a front row seat! Starts 7:45 a.m. CT, 8:45 a.m. EST. Can’t wait!


Author and Paddington Bear lover Becky Levine is looking for writers who’d like to share their critique group experiences via a guest post at her blog. You might know Becky as the author of the  awesome, always helpful and inspiring, The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions (Writer’s Digest Books, 2010). In return for a guest post, writers will receive a copy of the book and one commenter on the post will also get a free copy. This is a great opportunity to score the most thorough book I’ve ever seen on this subject. Get all the details here.


Nothing I love more (besides good home cooking and chowing down in restaurants) than films with great food scenes. Some of my favorites: the Harry Potter banquet table, Babette’s Feast, Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally, Eat Drink Man Woman, Chocolat, No Reservations, Like Water for Chocolate. Check out this cool list from Gastronomica if you’re looking to feed your winter hungers. There are quite a few I haven’t seen yet — they’ll make perfect cinematic meals especially for when cabin fever hits.


Some of you may have noticed the first couple of little posts in a new blog series here at Alphabet Soup called Sunday Bear. These come to you compliments of blog mascot Cornelius, who’s always trying to find ways to get attention spread a little sunshine. It can be a harsh, cruel world out there and everyone could use a little bear hug now and then. (Experts suggest a healthy dose for humans is four hugs per day.) So every Sunday, Cornelius will post a picture of one of his furry friends and an inspiring quote to get your week off to a good start.


Panel from John Donohue's "Spinach Madeleine"

When is a recipe better than a recipe? When there’s a story to go with it. Even better, an illustrated story. The folks at Saveur magazine asked their favorite comic artists to “draw us a recipe.” The results are interesting and delightful, like this one by New Yorker editor and cartoonist John Donohue about a favorite family recipe for Spinach Madeleine. Check out the full Archive here.


Just in case you missed my post yesterday, you can (and should) enter to win a signed copy of No Dogs Allowed! by Linda Ashman and Kristin Sorra. This nearly wordless picture book features a charming and delightful al fresco dining experience, especially appetizing for animal lovers. Just leave a comment at this post no later than Sunday, January 22, 2012, for a chance to win this tasty gem, autographed by author Linda Ashman.


I’ve been having lots of fun with my blog’s sidebar, changing around the Widgets and the pictures every week or so. I realize that people who subscribe to Alphabet Soup via email or who read the posts via a Feed Reader never get to see what mischief I’m up to over there, and those who actually visit the blog probably don’t give the sidebar a second glance. BUT. Since I have to look at it every single day, I thought I’d make it easy on my eyes — in the form of Rob Lowe, Robert Redford, Tristan McManus, George Clooney, Jakob Dylan, Harry Connick, Jr., Brad Pitt, and Robert James-Collier (my secret spouse, Colin Firth, is a permanent fixture).

Anyway, I’d like to refresh my eyes with some new views and wanna know whom you consider to be HOT. They don’t have to be actors or rock stars or only males; you likely have your own definition of “good looking.” I promise to post pictures of the Hotties who float your boat. So, Bring on the Names! Incidentally, if you hover over some of the sidebar pics, you can read secret messages. ☺

Happy Week, All. Be productive and have fun doing whatever blows your hair back! ♥


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

linda ashman’s no dogs allowed!: a little chat and a special giveaway

Why, hello. Let’s eat out!

*pat, pat, stroke, stroke*

How nice of you to arrive so well groomed! Pink-tongued, tail-wagging, perky-eared guests are especially welcome at our table. No need to sit up and beg!

But brace yourself. Believe it or not, there are a few misguided folks in this world who think “feast” does not mix with “fur”.

Take Alberto, for example, the nattily dressed owner of the City Lights Restaurant in Linda Ashman’s heartwarming new picture book. When he sees a boy approaching his café with a St. Bernard, he changes the “Welcome” on his chalkboard sign to “No Dogs Allowed.” Harumph!

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