friday feast: chatting with burleigh mutén about miss emily

“Truth is so rare, it is delightful to tell it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

I’ve been curious about Emily Dickinson’s relationship with children ever since learning that she used to lower baskets of gingerbread to the neighborhood kids.

That’s why I loved Burleigh Mutén’s delightful verse novel Miss Emily (Candlewick, 2014). It gave me a good sense of how Dickinson might have interacted with four of the children in her life: her niece and nephew Mattie and Ned (who lived next door at the Evergreens), and the pastor’s kids Mac and Sally, who lived across the street.

This fun and suspenseful adventure, where Emily and the children disguise themselves as gypsies to catch a glimpse of the midnight circus train, is told from Mac’s point of view. It is clear the kids all adore Miss Emily and she, them, united as they are in imaginative play and a singular brand of friendship.

Art © 2104 Matt Phelan

I’m so pleased Burleigh is here today to tell us more about writing and researching Miss Emily. I daresay “the children’s laughing goddess of plenty” herself would be quite pleased with this story, as it celebrates her fondness for children and the importance of remaining true to one’s inner child: therein lies the truth about who we really are and should always strive to be.

Look sharp! The circus train is here. All Aboard! 🙂

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guest post: margo sorenson on norwegian lefse (flatbread)

I’m happy to welcome dear friend and award winning author Margo Sorenson back to Alphabet Soup today. 🙂

The good news is that her middle grade historical novel, Tori and the Sleigh of Midnight Blue (first released in paperback back in 2003), is now available as an ebook!

Eleven-year-old Tori and her family are struggling with the Great Depression in North Dakota, and the death of her beloved Papa has been the severest blow of all. To aspiring writer Tori, everything is changing for the worse—her friends are acting too grown-up, and her little brother Otto invades her privacy. When a Norwegian bachelor-farmer begins courting Mama, Tori writes in her journal that her life will be ruined. What will Tori discover about forgiveness and acceptance as she tries to keep her life from changing?

I enjoyed learning about Scandinavian customs through this beautifully written novel, which reminded me of childhood favorites like All-of-a Kind Family and the Little House Books, where family ties, simple pleasures and a strong sense of community sustain the characters through difficult times.

In the chapter “Missing!”, Tori reluctantly helps her mother roll lefse for Thanksgiving. She usually loves making the traditional flatbread, but this would be their second Thanksgiving without Papa, and besides, she was angry that Mama had invited suitor Bjorn Oppestadt to dinner. How dare she? He wasn’t family!

Today, Margo talks about rolling lefse with her own family. It sounds like such delicious fun. Adopt me, please :).

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starry river of the sky blog tour!


Starry River of the Sky, the long anticipated companion novel to Grace Lin’s Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown, 2009), is officially out this week!

Alphabet Soup is pleased and honored to be participating in the six-stop Blog Tour, which begins today and runs through next Tuesday, October 9. Grace will be visiting each blog, so be sure to bookmark all the stops so you don’t miss anything.

**STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY BLOG TOUR**

Monday, October 1: Bookie Woogie

Tuesday, October 2: The Enchanted Inkpot

Wednesday, October 3: Jama’s Alphabet Soup

Thursday, October 4: Pragmatic Mom

Friday, October 5: Charlotte’s Library

Tuesday, October 9: Abby the Librarian

Grace is also planning a very special virtual Book Launch Party tomorrow at her blog, with games, prizes, and other goodies! I can’t wait to see what she’s cooked up.

Meanwhile, check out the official book trailer:

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Have a great week and make sure to get your hands on a copy of Starry River of the Sky, which has already earned a whopping 5 *starred* reviews! This is truly storytelling at its very best!

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