[sticky review] Paddington’s Easter Egg Hunt by Michael Bond and Karen Jankel, with art by R.W. Alley

Guess what?! The Easter Bunny left a surprise on our doorstep – a brand new Paddington Bear picture book! WooHoo!

Needless to say, all the furry Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers, especially the 70-something resident Paddingtons, are simply beside themselves. After several jubilant paw pumps and back flips, they cartwheeled from room to room before finally settling down long enough to actually crack open the book.

This new story is a welcome treasure, truly a rare gift for all Paddington fans, since dear Mr Bond passed away in 2017 (and we’ve all missed him terribly). But. It seems his agent discovered an old story Mr Bond had written with his daughter Karen Jankel for a charity newsletter back in 1995. Why not turn it into a picture book?

So Paddington illustrator extraordinaire R.W. Alley created some brand new illustrations, and, I must say, he’s really outdone himself. 🙂

In this toothsome tale, Paddington’s organizing an Easter Egg Hunt for his neighborhood’s fundraising extravaganza. Much to his dismay, the chocolate eggs he wanted to buy from the supermarket are sold out. After checking a boutique shop down the road, he learns their eggs are too expensive. “They cost fifteen pounds each?” – and that was for the smallest egg. He needs at least 20. Activate hard stare.

What to do? 

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[chat + recipe + giveaway] Please Look After Michael Bond Biographer Rosanne Tolin. Thank you.

 

Today we’re more than excited and pawsitively delighted to welcome More Than Marmalade author Rosanne Tolin to Alphabet Soup!

The 60-something resident Paddingtons are simply beside themselves. They’ve brushed their fur, cleaned their whiskers, and polished off at least 126 marmalade sandwiches in anticipation.

FINALLY, they keep saying — finally someone wrote a book about Michael Bond, their favorite person in the entire universe. Indeed, it is hard to believe that this is the first published biography of the iconic British author, whose first Paddington chapter book came out back in 1958.

 

 

Though More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear (Chicago Review Press, 2020), is geared for middle grade readers, it’s a beary interesting read for Paddington fans of all ages. A work of well researched creative nonfiction, the narrative is an engaging blend of facts and fictionalized scenes that highlight Bond’s life from his childhood in Reading, England, to his death at age 91 in 2017.

Bond always felt Paddington was “real,” and in this book we learn about the real historical events and personal experiences that inspired this inimitable bear character. We see how circumstance, a vivid imagination, and perseverance all came to bear at a time when Bond hadn’t actually planned to write a children’s book.

 

 

His love of trains, lifelong empathy for immigrants, script and story writing background, BBC cameraman experiences, and a fateful decision to rescue a lone bear from a department store shelf one Christmas Eve spawned a classic children’s book series that would evolve into several TV series and two feature length films, along with a slew of children’s merchandising. In 2018, the Great Western Railway named a new Intercity Express Train after Michael Bond and Paddington Bear.

Though he grew up in a nurturing, book-loving family, Bond was deeply affected by the hardships and devastation of WWII. In newsreels and at the train station, he witnessed the traumatic displacement of child evacuees from London (his parents also hosted two Jewish refugees in their home), and at age 17, he survived an air raid in his village before enlisting in the Royal Air Force and later, the British army.

 

 

 

More Than Marmalade not only chronicles Bond’s path to becoming a published author, it shows how he sustained a successful, demanding career — a journey that was fraught with rejection, a broken marriage, even a bout with depression. His grandfather’s advice about never giving up, and his enduring belief in a little stowaway bear from darkest Peru got him through thick and thin.

Why is Paddington so beloved by people of all ages all over the world? How are Bond’s messages of tolerance, kindness, and acceptance — especially of foreigners — more than timely? How does this book prove than when it comes to Michael Bond and Paddington Bear, there is so much more than meets the eye?

We know you’ll enjoy hearing what Rosanne has to say. More marmalade, please!

 

 

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Rosanne with the marmalade loving bear and her dog Dexter.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. UK illustrator and self-described “glutton” Livi Gosling created this cool illustration for the children’s book, Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers and Rebels, written by Linda Skeers (Sourcebooks Explore, 2017).

 

 

Perhaps you’ve read it? 🙂

Must admit I first discovered Livi’s work because of her food illustrations. Somehow, delightful drawings of pies, veggies, salads and sangria always catch my eye.

 

 

 

Livi’s portfolio includes a variety of interesting editorial illustrations — not only foodie ones, but wonderful maps, cityscapes and outdoor scenes for clients such as Taproot, Conde Nast, and the Telegraph. Love her refreshing, upbeat, charming style.

 

 

 

Yes, I was extra excited to see this animal alphabet:

 

 

And this one of various teas (odd that coffee is there too)!

 

 

Do visit Livi’s Official Website to learn more about her process, and browse her Etsy Shop to purchase maps and prints (she also does custom maps and portraits).

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nine cool things on a tuesday

“Blue Skies” by Nathaniel Mather

 

1. Well, of course — must share something blue to kick off the first Cool Things Roundup of 2020. Memphis-based artist Nathaniel Mather is a recent discovery for me; another case of love at first sight.

I enjoy the playful spirit and child-like quality of his narrative pieces. Colors, textures, and simple renderings of flowers and animals evoke 19th century primitive folk art, but still feel contemporary.

 

 

His compositions have a wonderful “unstudied” quality about them — a brand of sophistication that’s difficult to pull off well.

 

 

 

 

As a typography freak, I swooned when I noticed text and numbers in some of his work. Letters floating around in paintings always make me happy, but alphabets in two blue trees? Have mercy!

 

 

He wants to produce work that is “true, beautiful, and restorative” . . . reflecting “God’s wonder and grace while wrestling with daily struggles and pain.” One can’t help but feel uplifted by his art.

Learn more about Mather’s work at his Official Website and Etsy Shop, NathanielMatherArt.

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nine cool things on a tuesday (+ 2 extra cause it’s holiday time!)

1. Ho ho ho and Merry Merry! Tis the season for sending cool holiday greetings to your nearest and dearest. What could be better than Clover Robin’s gorgeous cut paper creations?

Buy these individually or in sets of 4 large or 5 smaller size. There’s “Joy,” “Winter Hare,” “Festive Wreath,” “Jug of Festive Foliage,” and my favorite, “Teatime.” They’re blank on the inside and come with natural colored 100% recycled envelopes.

You may remember we featured London-based Clover Robin’s charming cut paper collages not too long ago. Check out her Etsy Shop to order these festive cards or any of her other lovely botanical cards and prints.

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2. This one caught my eye because I’m a big Becca Stadtlander fan. Just released in early October, Made by Hand: A Crafts Sampler, written by Carole Lexa Schaefer (Candlewick, 2018), spotlights 14 handmade objects crafted between 1798 and 1950.

A beautiful, one-of-a-kind volume invites readers to marvel at the time, effort, and care that went into creating handmade toys, tools, and treasures of the past.

Whirr, buzz, hum. Before busy machines in factories turned out most of what we need and use, people crafted these items by hand. From a globe to a pie crimper, a butter churn to a rocking horse, this unique collection highlights fourteen one-of-a-kind objects — each one drafted, stitched, painted, or engraved by hand. Author Carole Lexa Schaefer draws inspiration from real historical artifacts to create thirteen short works of fiction, imagining the hands that might have made and used each item. Several artifacts can be traced to their origin, while others remain complete mysteries, making for a fascinating patchwork of fact, guesswork, and imagination. Illustrator Becca Stadtlander breathes color and charm into this handmade history, bringing to life the different objects, people, and times. The result is a singular glimpse of everyday objects and treasures alike — back when such things were made by hand.

I’ve always been a fan of handmade, “heart-made” objects, and can’t wait to see this book. I love the blending of craft + history + a touch of fiction + Becca’s art. 🙂

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