friday feast: a full moon is rising by marilyn singer and julia cairns

Happy first Poetry Friday of September!

Today,  I’m excited to share several poems and spreads from Marilyn Singer’s new poetry collection, A Full Moon is Rising (Lee & Low, 2011). Have you seen it yet?

Marilyn invites young readers to come along on a whirlwind tour of the world, providing the perfect opportunity to discover some interesting full moon celebrations, customs, beliefs, facts and natural phenomena. The 17 poems, written in a variety of poetic forms, takes us to places like Turkey, China, India, Colombia, Mexico, the U.S., Canada, and  Morocco. Did you know the world’s highest tides are in the Bay of Fundy, Canada? Have you ever heard of the Pushkar Camel Fair? You must read about the mudflats in Broome, Australia — when a full moon shines on them, it creates an image of a staircase leading to the moon through the sky!

Julia Cairns’s beautiful, evocative watercolor spreads capture the emotional heartbeat of  each poem, feelings ranging from wonder and fascination, to joyous celebration, to lighthearted fun and dreaminess. I love the blend of poetry and science, the nod to diversity, the reverence for the moon as the ultimate unifier. Singer’s poems remind you to look up: your gift, a chance to marvel at full moon magic like never before.

Three of my absolute favorite poems center around food (surprise!). Put on your moon-gazing face and make sure your bib is fastened tight as we travel to Israel, China, and Iowa!

Haifa, Israel

Come in, come in,
     daughter, son, neighbor.
Come into this sukkah,
with its canvas walls,
its leafy ceiling of palm and pine.
Come rejoice in this fair harvest,
     in the harvests long past,
     and the ones yet to come.
Here, the pomegranates are sweet,
     the grapes are sweeter,
and the vanilla white moonlight frosting us
through the fragrant roof
     is sweetest of all!

Hong Kong, China

Look up!
Rabbit, dragon, butterfly, carp:
lanterns parading by.
Look around!
All of us together,
sampling these sweet cakes —
red bean and lotus paste —
each with a surprise inside:
a salty egg, round and golden
as the glorious eighth moon.

A Farm in Iowa, USA

Every September Grandpa tells the tale
his grandfather told him,
     of reaping all this wheat
     by moonlight brighter than the headlights
     on all our combines combined.
And every year the hard-work story changes
     from old-time binders to older scythes,
     from three long nights to a longer six,
     from six strong workers to maybe ten.
But the bread, oh that bread, his grandma made?
That always stays the same!

* * *

Oh my word, I need some homemade bread and a couple of mooncakes now. And that “vanilla white moonlight frosting us” — *swoon*.

Yes, you need to click through to your favorite online bookseller and order A Full Moon is Rising right this second. Heads up: the next full moon is September 12th.  You’ll definitely want your copy in hand by then for a proper celebration!

The luminous Tricia Stohr-Hunt has this week’s Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Check out the full menu of poetry being served up around the blogosophere.

poems by Marilyn Singer
illustrated by Julia Cairns
published by Lee & Low Books, May 2011
Full Color Picture Book for ages 6+, 48 pp.
Includes an introduction explaining lunar phases and fascinating endnotes for each poem that will no doubt inspire further study.

Cool themes: Moon lore, diversity, poetry, science, celebrations, foreign cultures, myths and legends.

♥ For an interview with Marilyn and Julia, links to some of the glowing reviews this title has earned so far, more gorgeous spreads, and to listen to Marilyn read three poems, visit Lee & Low’s website. I love Marilyn’s reading voice ☺!


**If you promise to keep your moon face on all day, you may have some mooncake. Have a great holiday weekend!


***Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2011 Marilyn Singer, illustrations © Julia Cairns, published by Lee & Low Books, 2011. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

lip-smacking feast: hot, hot roti for dada-ji by f. zia and ken min

Are you hungry, baba?

You’ve come to the right place! Let’s fire up the skillet and cook some lip-smacking, oh-so-yummy, belly-rubbing roti!

Harry R/flickr

There’s so much more to this homey unleavened Indian flatbread than meets the eye (or the stomach). Yes, it’s perfect for scooping up curries and vegetables (love love it with dahl), but did you know it also has the power to inspire really good stories? Hunh-ji! Yes Sir!

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji (Lee & Low Books, 2011) contains all the ingredients I love most in a children’s story: food, family, and high octane fun. I can say unequivocally that it’s my favorite picture book thus far about contemporary Indian American life. How to blend the old with the new? Find an interesting way to bridge the generations? Introduce young readers to an unfamiliar culture? Lace a story with tasty specifics that tap into universal themes? Debut author F. Zia accomplishes all these things with her beautifully crafted “story within a story” that never misses a beat and is an absolute hoot to read aloud.

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Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina

Hooray for a brand new picture book set in Bangladesh!

How many others can you think of? I daresay, this is the first one I’ve encountered, which is why I’m extra pleased Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Doug Chayka (Lee & Low, 2010), was released earlier this month!

Ever since I read Mitali Perkins’s luminous, award-winning chapter book, Rickshaw Girl (Charlesbridge, 2007), I’ve been wanting to learn more about this part of the world. I was quite taken with Naima, a talented alpana artist who finds a creative way to help alleviate financial problems for her impoverished family.

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SOUP’S ON: Arnold Hiura in the Kitchen Interview!

Kau Kau: the all-purpose Hawaiian pidgin term for food (derived from the Chinese “chow chow”).

photo by Shuzo Uemoto

I’m very pleased to welcome Arnold Hiura to alphabet soup today, not only because he has written a fabulous new book about Hawai’i’s culinary history, but because this interview has given me the opportunity to reconnect with an old college classmate.

Arnold and I were both English majors at the University of Hawai’i, where we took the same Shakespeare class in grad school. I was no fool — I made sure I sat next to him, hoping that some of his brains and writing talent would rub off on me. ☺

After graduation, Arnold taught English for a few years at Punahou, a prestigious private school on O’ahu. One of his students was none other than a certain Barry Obama. Fast forward to last December, when the Obamas were in Hawai’i for Christmas. They dined at one of their favorite restaurants, Alan Wong’s in Honolulu, at which time Chef Wong gifted the President with a copy of Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands. I love how things come full
circle — how small and friendly the world can be, how food brings people together.

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[review] Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules and Kathryn Mitter

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting author Jacqueline Jules at a D.C. Kidlit Book Club meeting. I was happy to learn that she had just published a multicultural picture book about food, Duck for Turkey Day (Albert Whitman, 2009). Naturally, I donned my largest bib after requesting a review copy.

Young Tuyet is worried about Thanksgiving because her family will be having duck for dinner instead of turkey. At school, the talk was all about Pilgrims, Native Americans, and turkey turkey turkey. Her mother seemed set on cooking duck, while her grandmother, who was visiting from New York just for the holiday, reminded her that they would be using her spicy duck recipe from Vietnam.

Thanksgiving morning, good smells filled the house, and that afternoon, Tuyet was excited at the arrival of her aunt, uncle, and cousins. But when she told them about the duck, even they were happy and excited with the menu. Didn’t anyone in her family know the “rules” about Thanksgiving? And what will her teacher and classmates say when they find out she didn’t have turkey?

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