surprise book giveaway!


Just because it’s Poetry Month, Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear have decided to do a surprise, drive-by giveaway!

If you’d like to win a copy of THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH by B.J. Lee and David Opie, just leave a comment here by next Wednesday, April 17, 2019!! If you prefer, send an email with GATOR in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please.

In case you missed it and want to learn more about the book, check out B.J. Lee’s recent Author Chat.

Good Luck!!

Copyright © 2019 Cornelius and Blue Bear Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

a trio of fall favorites: cats, corpse, crisp

‘Tis the season of apples, pumpkins, black cats and twisted tales, so we’re getting our Fall on this week with a three course meal of old favorites.

I suppose one could say this post is equal parts miao, morbid, and mmmmm. 🙂



I love cracking open my Edward Gorey version of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Not only does it remind me of when we saw Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Cats” in London many moons ago (I’ve been licking my paws and prancing about ever since), but of the pleasant after dinner walks Len and I used to take around our old neighborhood.

You see, two streets down and around the corner we were usually greeted by a Jellicle Cat. A fine fellow he was, all tuxedo-ed up for the ball under the bright moonlight. He was both sleek and adorable, having washed behind his ears and between his toes (he knew we were coming). A Fred Astaire of cats, we think of him still.

I love this reading by T.S. Eliot himself:


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beatrix part two: of guinea pigs, nursery rhymes and cupcakes

Today we are honored to welcome a very special guest to Alphabet Soup: the one and only Amiable Guinea-pig!

After reading and reviewing Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake (Schwartz & Wade, 2016), we felt a tasty homage to this dapper little fellow was definitely in order.

Peter Rabbit gets a lot of attention, as does Miss Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and Squirrel Nutkin. In fact, they all have their own little books written about them. But not the Amiable one, who was actually the first guinea pig in Miss Potter’s work. She wrote a clever limerick about him that appeared in Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes (1917).

But one limerick does not a book make. Wouldn’t you feel a little slighted? To add insult to injury, initially Miss Potter’s publisher Frederick Warne & Co. wasn’t that keen on the Appley Dapply rhyme collection, which she had hoped to publish following the release of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902.

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hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Iza Trapani

When I immigrated to America from Poland at age seven, I learned English with the help of a Mother Goose collection. Little did I know that someday I would extend many of those nursery rhymes and have a successful career as a children’s book author and illustrator. I am currently at work on my 26th book.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: I drink all kinds of teas. Lately, I’ve been enjoying hot cinnamon spice from Harney & Sons. It’s lightly sweet and zesTEA :-). Looks like Teddy would like some too. Should I offer him a cup?

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Old King Cole (Charlesbridge, August 2015). Forthcoming: Gabe and Goon (Charlesbridge, July 2016).


☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK(s): Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens (Harcourt, 1995), Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 2002), Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (FSG, 2005), and Split Pea Soup (from the George and Martha stories) by James Marshall (HMH, 1974).

☕ Visit Iza Trapani’s Official Website and blog, In and Out of My Studio.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Old King Cole Book Trailer !

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☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Iza’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star read by ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the International Space Station!! Far out and too cool. 🙂



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

do you know the muffin man?

Punch 1892)


No, but I wish I did!

What a lovely thought, having warm, freshly baked muffins delivered to your front door! Back in the 19th century, the muffin man wandered the streets of England around teatime, ringing his bell and tempting everyone with his offerings.

But the muffins he peddled were not like the “American” muffins we are familiar with today. They were actually flat round cakes made from yeast dough. There’s always been a bit of confusion concerning muffins, crumpets, English muffins, and pikelets. Today, a muffin in England is more like a light textured roll, round and flat, and if you went to the grocers in search of “English muffins,” you wouldn’t find any. I was surprised to discover this when I lived there in the late 70’s.

But to me, it’s all good. Mere mention of a “muffin” and you’ve got my full attention.

I’ve already shared my favorite recipes for blueberry and pumpkin muffins on this blog. So today, I’m serving up some cranberry orange, which are perfect for fall and the upcoming holiday season. Len and I love these for Christmas breakfast, too. The recipe actually calls for the big Texas-size muffin tins, but I’ve made them using standard size tins. Love ’em!

(yield: one dozen regular, 6 Texas size)

1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp freshly grated orange peel
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin tin or use paper baking cups.

Mix cranberries, 1/4 cup sugar and orange peel; set aside.

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except nuts. In a separate bowl, mix oil, juice and eggs. Pour all at once into dry ingredients and stir only until moistened. Add cranberries and nuts. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing.



Click here to view Amy Winfrey’s animated muffin films. She did them for her MFA thesis at the UCLA Animation Workshop, and they’re way cool. Just click on the paper muffin cups for 12 different vignettes. Be sure to see the Muffinale! So adorable!

For some muffinalia ala Good Eats’ Alton Brown, click here.

For the kiddos: Daniel Pinkwater indulges his penchant for muffins in the Irving and Muktuk series, and in The Muffin Fiend (Skylark, 1987), where Wolfgang Mozart discovers who’s stealing all the muffins in Vienna. Perfect for off-the-wall dining.

And don’t forget the classic, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Numeroff (HarperTrophy, 1994).