monica wellington on pastries and pirouettes

So pleased to welcome author, illustrator and teacher Monica Wellington to the blog today. I’m sure you’ve shared many of her 40+ children’s books in your classroom, library, or with your own kids or grandkids at home. She has a knack for creating kid friendly books that make learning fun and interesting, books that beg rereading and soon become beloved favorites.

I confess I first learned about Monica from her foodie books (no surprise). Who would not love Apple Farmer Annie, Pizza at Sally’s, Mr. Cookie Baker, or Crêpes by Suzette? Naturally all of these picture books include delicious recipes. The simple lines and bright cheery colors in her art are pure, mouthwatering joy. And have you seen her Color and Cook series (Cookies, Cupcakes, Snacks, Tea Party!)? 🙂

Our focus today is on Crêpes by Suzette (newly back in print), and Dear Ballerina, Monica’s latest picture book, just released by Holiday House on March 19, 2019. These two books represent enduring threads in Monica’s life. She’s a devoted Francophile, has loved the ballet since childhood, and her daughter Lydia figures in both stories (Lydia currently dances with the New York City Ballet, and her childhood pictures pop up in Crêpes by Suzette ).

You may know that besides the new paperback edition, Crêpes by Suzette is also available as an interactive App – a veritable feast of French culture (art, language, music, food, travel) presented as a multimedia experience (formidable!).

Dear Ballerina, with its soft pastel palette, is not only a nice introduction to ballet basics, but also a touching story of mentorship that will inspire young dancers everywhere.

Monica lives and works in New York, where she teaches children’s book illustration at the School of Visual Arts. If, like me, you’re a longtime fan of her books, you’ll enjoy our conversation, which is flavored with a delectable taste of Paris and some lovely personal photos.

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eleven notable noshes on a tuesday

1. Ooh-la-la! There’s a new Crêpes by Suzette picture book app! I’d featured Monica Wellington’s charming story set in Paris back in 2010, so I was happy to learn it’s now been transformed into a fully interactive multimedia experience:

Take your children on a trip to Paris: meet Suzette, the crêpe maker, and her artistic customers in this fun, educational, interactive picture-book app.

As Suzette sells her delicacies over the course of a day, you will be treated to the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, from Nôtre-Dame to the Eiffel Tower. Suzette’s customers along the way are inspired by works of art, such as da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Degas’s Little Dancer. You will learn to speak key French words and phrases—with a perfect accent, bien sûr! You can also listen to the narration in five additional languages: French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Japanese. And at the end of the day, a crêpe recipe and DIY cooking lesson await you! As delicious as Suzette’s crêpes, this book app will captivate children—and parents— who will want to make the trip to Paris themselves. Bon voyage!

Immerse yourselves in French culture, with language, food, music and art:

– Interactive Paris map, with fun extras

– Videos of Paris and pictures of its landmarks

– Great introduction to famous paintings and sculptures

– Crêpe recipe and video cooking demos
– English narration read to you by the author

– Interactive hotspots for practicing French

I played with the app and enjoyed all the delightful features, especially being able to tap any of the human or animal characters on the screen to hear them say the French key words. The videos take you right to the places mentioned in the story, and it’s fun seeing how crêpes are made. A great armchair-traveling introduction to this beautiful city featuring sights, street sounds and music that’s designed for Apple and Android devices. Visit Monica’s website for purchase links.

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2. Love this SLJ Roundup: “Read It, Make It, Eat It: Great Picture Books with Recipes.” Joy Fleishhacker features eleven tasty titles with great hands-on activities to expand the literary experience. We’ve featured most of the titles here at Alphabet Soup, most recently Baking Day at Grandma’s, Gingerbread for Liberty!, Salsa, A Fine Dessert, and Rainbow Stew. Yum!

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3. Do you like to knit? How can you resist this adorable Yoda Tea Cosy? The pattern is available for instant download via TeaCosyFolk on Etsy. I imagine any tea warmed by this cosy will make you a wise person indeed. 🙂

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4. How about “51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature”? BuzzFeed compiled this list awhile ago, but it’s certainly worth rereading to be reminded of great novels or poems you’re familiar with or some you might want to read because of the excerpts. A couple faves: “I would always rather be happy than dignified” (Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre), and “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” (Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).

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5. I’m a sucker for food art and like the idea of New Jersey artist Jae Yong Kim serving up donuts that never get stale. His are made out of ceramic and sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, white gold and gold luster. Delicious colors and designs!

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6. Ever wonder about the bone china the Crawleys use in “Downton Abbey?” I like to watch the episodes multiple times particularly to study the tableware. I’ve finally identified the china used for library tea times as well as formal meals in the dining room. It’s Spode Stafford White, a beautiful Georgian design with scalloped rims and 22-carat gold accents. It would be lovely to own a cup and saucer in this pattern as a memento of the series, which will end with Season 6 airing in the U.S. January 2016. Next I want to identify Dowager Countess Violet’s tea time china pattern — so pretty! I suspect it’s a Spode design as well.

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7. Check out UK author Christopher William Hill’s “Top 10 Fictional Feasts.” The grandson of a baker who claims to have grown up obsessed with food, he shares excerpts along with his personal thoughts about the books. I’ve only read about half of the titles, the usual ones by Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, and Lewis Carroll, and must admit he’s piqued my appetite for a serving or two of Enid Blyton, whom he calls the Nigella Lawson of children’s authors.

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8. Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky . . . As a panacea for those restless nights in cheap hotels and saw-dust restaurants with oyster shells, treat yourself to a set of J. Alfred Prufrock Coffee and Tea notecards from CS Literary Jewelry. Just curious: have you measured out your life with coffee spoons?

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9. For the woman who has everything, consider this handcrafted taco-shaped clutch by Charlotte Olympia. Made of raffia and suede, it is lined with satin and embellished with Swarovski crystals and embroidered silk organza. Stash your bills in this cute little number and at 50% off, it will only take a small bite out of your budget (*cough*).

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10. Are you familiar with Sweet Ambs Cookie Art? Amber does exquisite work and her decorating tutorials are fabulous. Click here to see all her tutorials, including Rainbow Cookies, Emoji Cookies, Tie-Dye, Pansies, and Marbled Royal Icing. Here’s a fun sample video — “How to Decorate Cupcake Cookies”:

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11. Finally, check out this “How to Make Gummy Lego Candy” video by Grant Thompson, The King of Random. He’d been experimenting on and off for a few years and came up with a recipe using corn syrup, gelatin, water, and Jello. Have fun making these stackable snackables with your kids!

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HAPPY TUESDAY AND HAVE A GREAT WEEK!

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wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.