nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy May! Let’s celebrate this month of flowers with UK artist Lucy Grossmith’s exquisite paintings.

Lucy grew up in the Lincolnshire countryside and now lives and works in Suffolk, England. She’s always been surrounded and inspired by nature and enjoys walking outdoors, where she sketches and makes mental notes of flora, fauna, colors, textures, and weather conditions – all ingredients for her work.

She paints with acrylics on canvas or textured paper, focusing on gardens, wildlife, countryside, and coastal landscapes. 

Love the soft, feminine feel to her pictures and the delicate detail.

For more, visit her Official Website (“heart to art”) where you can purchase original paintings or fine art giclée prints.

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[clucky review] Eggs from Red Hen Farm by Monica Wellington

What do crêpes, soufflés, frittatas, and quiches have in common? Why, yes, they’re all made with eggs!

Unless they’re from a family that raises chickens, many kids see eggs in the fridge or grocery store without ever considering where they came from. 

In Monica Wellington’s brand new interactive picture book, Eggs From Red Hen Farm: Farm to Table with Mazes and Maps (Holiday House, 2022), young readers are invited to tag along as two happy young farmers take their eggs to market. 

The story opens with Ruby and Ned collecting eggs from their hen house. After they sort and count the eggs, they load them onto their red truck. Off they go, “past the ponies, the fire station, and the bulldozer, to the farmers’ market.”

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[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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[tuneful review] Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music by Willie Nelson & Bobbie Nelson

“We had so little money but so much love.” ~ Bobbie Nelson

As a longtime Willie Nelson fan, I was especially pleased to learn that he and his older sister Bobbie had published their first ever children’s book last fall. 

Co-written by Texas children’s author Chris Barton and illustrated by Kyung Eun Han, Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music (Doubleday BFYR, 2021), is a picture book adaptation based on the Nelsons’ joint memoir, Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band (Random House, 2020).

Though much had already been written by and about Willie, the memoir was essentially the first time folks got to hear from and learn about Bobbie, who officially became Willie’s bandmate in 1973. Now, with this new picture book, Willie and Bobbie tell the moving story of their childhood, as they forged an unbreakable bond through their shared love of music.

With alternating perspectives, brother and sister have seamlessly woven a narrative of two distinct voices in lyrical and spiritual harmony.

As Bobbie says, “Family and music have been one and the same ever since Mama Nelson placed my hands on the keys of a piano, and Daddy Nelson put a guitar in Brother’s arms. Music has been our way of feeling, giving, and receiving love. It sustains us to this day.”

Willie and Bobbie’s grandparents, Mama and Daddy Nelson, taught music in Arkansas before moving to Texas.

Willie and Bobbie were raised by their grandparents during the hardscrabble Depression years in the small town of Abbott, Texas. Daddy Nelson was a blacksmith, and Mama Nelson tended the home and worked in the fields picking cotton and corn. 

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. March winds are blowing, tiny buds are appearing on trees, it won’t be long before Spring is officially here!

For now, let’s look at how Jenny Beck’s gardens grow – rows of vegetables, flowers, blossoming trees – all set against rolling hills, everything lush, green, flourishing. 

Jenny hails from West Dorset, England, and has been surrounded by gardens and countryside for most of her life. She initially trained in ceramics, decorating pots with images of the English countryside.

Since she enjoyed decorating more than making pots, while working as a gardener she re-trained in illustration, then worked as a freelance illustrator. In addition to selling prints and cards, she works on community art projects and commissions for house and garden paintings.

Visit her Etsy Shop to harvest onions, pick apples, feed the hens, tend the allotment cabbages, and revel in the bucolic. Nothing finer than an English garden!

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