[review] Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, Michiko Tsuboi, and Toshikado Hajiri

Though every elementary school student in Japan is familiar with Misuzu Kaneko’s poetry, relatively few in the English-speaking world are familiar with her work.

Marked by a refreshing ingenuousness, curiosity, and extraordinary empathy for the world around her, Misuzu’s poems resonate with people of all ages, demonstrating that quiet, gentle words have their own special power.

DEWDROP

Let’s not tell anyone.

In the corner of the garden this morning,
a flower shed a tear.

If word of this spreads
to the ears of the bee,

it’ll feel it’s done wrong
and go back to return the nectar.

Thanks to this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, a new audience of North American children can now read a selection of Misuzu’s poetry in English, learn about her short tragic life and the fascinating backstory of how her work was lost for half a century before being rediscovered in 1982.

 In Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko (Chin Music Press, 2016), author David Jacobson frames the story of Misuzu’s life with an account of how young student poet Setsuo Yazaki read one of her poems and was so impressed by it that he spent the next 16 years searching for more.

Art © 2016 Toshikado Hajiri

BIG CATCH

At sunrise, glorious sunrise
it’s a big catch!
A big catch of sardines!

On the beach, it’s like a festival
but in the sea, they will hold funerals
for the tens of thousands dead.

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hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Wade Hudson

Wade Hudson is president of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent children’s publishing company he co-founded with his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson. Just Us Books is a leading publisher of books that represent our diversity, with a focus on Black history, culture and experiences. Wade has authored 30 books for children and young adults.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: My day starts with a hot cup of coffee, which I drink while reading the morning paper. When I was a little boy growing up in rural Louisiana, I was awakened each morning by the aroma of coffee brewing.  For me, it signaled a new day. I would watch my Dad sitting at the table, drinking his cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. I was too young to join him then, but I continue my father’s tradition now. A second cup normally follows my wake-me-up cup of coffee, and after a quick breakfast, I am ready for the new day.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Feelings I Love to Share by Wade Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Marimba Books (2015), and Book of Black Heroes from A to Z (revised edition) by Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley, published by Just Us Books, Inc. (2013).

 

 

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Damian Ward, published by Marimba Books (2015).

 

I am a native of Louisiana. And I love the wide variety of cuisine found in the state. The northern part of the state is more known for its southern Soul, rural-influenced cuisine. The southern section, especially New Orleans, is characterized by the Mississippi River and other bodies of water, is famous for its Creole, Cajun, and seafood-centered cuisine. Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street spotlights the tradition of youngsters’ tap dancing in the French Quarter using bottle caps stamped and ground in the soles of their shoes instead of taps. This delightful book captures the flavor of the Crescent City and introduces some of the famous dishes and food it is known for such as jambalaya, beignet, po’boys and red beans and rice. Let’s eat y’all!

☕ COMING SOON FROM JUST US BOOKS/MARIMBA BOOKS:

  • AFRO-BETS® Book of Shapes (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • AFRO-BETS® Book of Colors (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • I’m a Big Brother Now, by Katura J. Hudson, illustrated by Sylvia Walker (Marimba Books, a new picture book for Fall 2016)
  • Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present, by Gil L. Robertson (Just Us Books, a new book of biographies, Fall 2016)
  • Sights I Love to See (another book in the “I Love to” series published by Marimba Books, Spring 2017).

☕☕ Visit Wade Hudson’s Official Website and the Just Us Books website and Online Store. Keep up with current news on the Just Us Books Facebook Page.

☕☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Get in the groove with the AFRO-BETS ABC Song!

 

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☕☕☕☕ AND ANOTHER SWEET SIP (in case you missed it):  Cheryl Willis Hudson’s hotTEA post! With TWO hotTEAs in the house, they must have to wear their flame proof suits all the time. 🙂


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

hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: April Chu

April Chu began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. She has since collaborated with authors to create picture books which have received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly along with rave reviews in The New York Times. April currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: I can’t start my day without a cup of fresh brewed coffee mixed with a big splash of half and half. With a 7 month old, a full night’s rest is rare and I need my jolt of caffeine in the morning to get myself going. I buy my coffee beans from Peerless Coffee Company. Their roasting facility is located just down the street from my house, which is both convenient and aromatic.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: In a Village by the Sea written by Muon Van (Creston Books, May 2015), Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine written by Laurie Wallmark (Creston Books, October 2015). Forthcoming books: Kate Warne, America’s First Woman Detective, written by Marissa Moss (Creston Books, Spring 2017), Down by the River written by Andy Weiner (Abrams, Spring 2018).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOKS: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, which is my daughter’s favorite as well, and Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola because who wouldn’t want a magic pasta pot? As a kid, I remember being slightly jealous of Big Anthony because he got to eat all those noodles!

☕ Visit April Chu’s Official Website.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out these gorgeous illustrations from In a Village by the Sea (click to enlarge).

☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Check out this recent interview, “On Illustration, Art, and Picture Book Success,” at Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s blog. BTW, In a Village By the Sea just won the Northern California Book Award!! Congrats to April and Muon Van!


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

a colorful chat with cathryn falwell about rainbow stew

rstew-falwell03 (3)500

Mmmmm, somebody’s making something yummy! It’s a special stew made with a rainbow of freshly picked garden vegetables — red tomatoes, purple eggplant, green peas and beans, rosy radishes, brown potatoes and yellow peppers. Care for a bowl?

rainbow stew coverIt’s such a treat to welcome award winning author/illustrator Cathryn Falwell to Alphabet Soup today. She’s just published an uncommonly delicious new picture book called Rainbow Stew (Lee & Low, 2013), which contains all the ingredients I love most about good stories: food, family, and fun. 🙂

A very cool grandfather (who makes yummy pancakes for breakfast) makes the most of a rainy summer day by suggesting everyone go outside to “find some colors for my famous Rainbow Stew!”  So he and his three grandchildren don their rain gear and go searching for ripe veggies under the drippy leaves. With treasures like radishes, carrots, cucumbers and cabbage, and time enough to “jump around like grasshoppers and buzz about like bees,” everyone has a muddy grand time.

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auntie yang’s great soybean picnic

Get in line and fill up your plates! Join the picnic!

How I love love love this picture book, let me count the ways. It was actually love at first sight. I squealed when I first saw the title. “Auntie Yang?!”

Well, I just happen to have six Auntie Yangs and many fond memories of eating boiled soybeans just like the characters in the story. We had some lovely family picnics as well, though most of them were at the beach rather than in a relative’s back yard in the Midwest.

Just released in April, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic (Lee & Low, 2012) was inspired by sisters Ginnie and Beth Lo’s childhood memories of their Auntie Yang who lived in Illinois.

As narrator Jinyi tells it, she, her little sister Pei and their parents often visited Auntie and Uncle Yang and their cousins, who lived a long car drive away. Both sets of parents had left China to study at American universities. They abandoned plans to return to their home country when the war made it too dangerous. So they stayed in Illinois and Indiana, raising their families in an area with very few Chinese Americans. All the more reason to stay close and visit each other as often as possible, so that the four cousins could grow up “as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod.”

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