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 Cr√™pes 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!)? ūüôā

Our focus today is on Cr√™pes 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 Cr√™pes by Suzette ).

You may know that besides the new paperback edition, Crêpes by Suzette is also available as an interactive App Рa 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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[tasty review + brownie recipe] Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng

I’ve often wished I could travel back in time to visit Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at their famous 1920’s Paris salon.

Imagine making small talk with the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thornton Wilder on a leisurely Saturday evening while gazing at an amazing collection of modernist art adorning the walls at 27 rue de Fleurus! Would Alice serve her special mushroom sandwiches, a giant squab in pyjamas, or maybe wild rice salad?

I know what you’re thinking: brownies! Well, perhaps. ūüôā

It was such a treat to read the recently published picture book Happy Birthday, Alice Babette¬†by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng (Groundwood Books, 2016). Charming and winsome are the first two words that come to mind, along with sheer delight. This fictionalized story based on the lives of these two expat luminaries focuses on their singular relationship — complementary personalities who carved out a unique existence that brought out the best in each other.

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chatting with joan yolleck: paris, painters, poets, and baby brioches

When I first discovered Paris in the Spring with Picasso this summer, it was definitely love at first sight.

The title alone conjured up blissful images of a city bursting with creative energy, teeming with artists and bohemian types meeting at sidewalk cafés and salons, everyone in love with life and each other. Add to that dreamy vision Majorie Priceman’s wildly exuberant, free-spirited art, and I was a goner before alighting on the first page.

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look who’s here: charlotte, joan, and melissa!

CHARLOTTE IN LONDON by Joan MacPhail Knight,
pictures by Melissa Sweet (Chronicle, 2008). Ages 8+, 64 pp.


It’s August,¬†the perfect time for some armchair traveling! Are you in the mood for a little cherry clafoutis, raspberry fool, and vegetable soup?

Earlier this year, while I was preparing for my interview with¬†Caldecott¬†Silver Medal winner Melissa Sweet, I¬†noticed that she’s the illustrator for Joan MacPhail Knight’s Charlotte series.¬†I¬†had never seen any of these totally captivating,¬†impeccably designed books before, and it was¬†love love love at first sight!

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