nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Get in the car – we’re off for a December ride! ‘Tis the season for bundling up, picking out that perfect tree, shopping for gifts and making sure our animal friends are happy.

British artist Stephanie Lambourne’s colorful and quirky pictures are just the thing we need to get us into the holiday spirit. 

Based in Suffolk, England, she earned a BA in Fine Art and a post graduate degree in Art and Education from the Hornsey School of Art (now Middlesex University). After teaching at schools and colleges for a few years, she transitioned to painting full time in 2003.

Inspired by walks along the beach, she featured coastal landscapes, cottages, beach huts, boats, and seagulls in her earlier paintings. In recent years, her main focus has been people and humor (“unreal characters in sometimes strange pursuits”).  

She works in acrylic, rarely doing preliminary sketches, preferring to draw ideas straight onto the canvas to create a sense of freshness to her work. 

Though I’m sharing mostly holiday/winter themed pieces today, her pictures are set in all seasons. Her objective is to make people smile, to immerse the viewer in a lighthearted and slightly offbeat narrative from a bygone era. It’s fun to imagine just what the people in her pictures are really up to. 🙂

For more, visit Stephanie’s Instagram and FB Page. Her fine art greeting cards may be purchased via Green Pebble and The Blank Card Company. Original acrylics are available at Southwold Gallery and Bircham Gallery. DM her directly for any inquiries or commissions.

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(the buzz about) A is for Bee by Ellen Heck

#62 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Just when you think you know the alphabet, along comes a fun and inventive animal abecedarian that shows you what you’ve been missing. 

Set aside the predictable ‘A is for Alligator’ and ‘Z is for Zebra’ books. In Ellen Heck’s A is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation (Levine Querido, 2022), we learn what 26 familiar animals are called around the world.

We speak to each other in many languages, and in some of them . . . A is for Bee.

Although the word bee begins with ‘B’ in English, in some other languages, it actually begins with ‘A’: Aamoo (Ojibwe), Abelha (Portuguese).

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[review] Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, Alexis Bunten and Garry Meeches Sr.

Did you know that while most Americans celebrate the fourth Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving, many Native Americans consider it a day of mourning?

The Wampanoag had inhabited Southeastern Massachusetts for thousands of years before the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in 1620. This illuminating new picture book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective.

We first hear a conversation between a contemporary Wampanoag grandmother, N8hkumuhs (NOO-kuh-mus), and her grandchildren Maple and Quill. They are curious to learn how Weeâchumun, the Guardian Spirit of Corn, asked their ancestors to help the Pilgrims. 

“The first Thanksgiving?” Maple asked.

“Some people call it that,” N8hkumuhs said. “We call it Keepunumuk, the time of harvest. Here’s what really happened.”

Weeâchumun grew concerned when a large boat with white sails approached the shore one fall day. Who were these new people? Could she trust them? It had been two winters since many of the First Peoples who had cared for her had passed on to the Spirit World. Would this winter be her last? She called upon Fox to keep an eye on the newcomers.

As fall turned to winter, Fox watched the newcomers travel inland, enter the forest, and build homes on top of an empty village. Though they diligently searched for food, it was never enough, and many died from cold, starvation and disease. Unlike the others who’d come to hunt, fish, and trade years before, these newcomers seemed different: they were here to stay.

When spring arrived, Weeâchumun and her two sisters, Beans and Squash, awoke from their winter slumber. They pushed through the ground and reached for the sky as the sun warmed the earth.

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[beachy review] My Poet by Patricia MacLachlan and Jen Hill

“I have great respect for children. And I have great respect for their ability as writers.” ~ Patricia MacLachlan

“Words have not only a definition… but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.” ~ Mary Oliver

Where do poets find their words?

Young Lucy learns the answer to this question in My Poet, a luminous new picture book by late Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and illustrator Jen Hill (Katherine Tegen Books, 2022).

One summer day, Lucy and the poet next door – whom she calls “my poet” – explore their seaside town with a shared goal: to find words. Lucy, an aspiring poet, takes along her notebook and pen.

Together, they visit the farmers market, stroll along the beach with the poet’s dogs, meander through the woods by the marsh, and take refuge in a boathouse during a thunderstorm.

Throughout the day, Lucy notes that her poet sees objects differently, describing them in novel ways. A strawberry is a jewel. A stone has a story. Lucy wonders how her poet hears the words she writes about her dogs. 

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[poem + giveaway] the aunts go marching one by one

Art by Elena Narkevich.
THE AUNTS
by Linda Lee (Konichek)

Mom had seven sisters. We cousins have always
called them, "The Aunts." They were at each of
our births, wonder women, who encircled us with
a golden lasso of love that kept us safe.

No matter what we needed, "The Aunts" were there;
they came to coo and fuss over new babies, bring
food and hugs to funerals, attended every milestone.

"The Aunts" made each family event a noisy, happy
party, shared jokes, gave lots and lots of advice and --
best of all -- brought special presents, wrapped in hugs.

"The Aunts" grew up washing dishes and waiting tables
in Grandma's restaurant; they were bound to help,
took over the work, even in someone else's kitchen.

"The Aunts'" potluck dishes could win awards at any
county fair; they always brought extra, always helped
serve, and left a spotless kitchen and recipes behind.

As carpenter's daughters, "The Aunts" could pound a nail,
paint a wall, build a shelf. Working right alongside the men, they
rebuilt the lake cottage, then taught us to swim and bait a hook.

"The Aunts" were always good sports, never too proud or too old to
wear the craziest home-made Halloween costumes or to dance the
fastest dance with little kids, or each other, at wedding receptions.

There was no money for "The Aunts" to go to college, so they read
great books, attended seminars, plays, symphonies, honed fine minds,
always asked, "Why?", searched for truth, lived their creeds.

"The Aunts" eagerly shared whatever we brought to them -- a wriggly
face-licking puppy, a fistful of wildflowers, a neat rock with fossils,
our best report card, new friends, fresh-picked berries, a fat toad.

Now we've become parents, aunts, uncles. Some of "The Aunts" have 
passed on, but the golden lasso remains, has expanded to encircle
all those we love. How can we ever live up to their heroic deeds?
They would always expect us to try, so we will . . . try!

~ from Celebrating the Heart-land (Jericho Productions, 2010).
Art by Elena Narkevich.

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