[review + giveaway] Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud and Felicita Sala

Crisp, crunch, snap, munch.

Pardon me while I lick the salt off my fingers.

Mmmmmmmm, potato chips!

We all love them, but who actually invented them?

Some say it was George Crum, a Saratoga Springs chef working at Moon’s Lake House in 1853. In Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament (Kids Can Press, 2017), author Anne Renaud and illustrator Felicita Sala serve up a taste-bud-tempting tater tale showing how Crum’s culinary clash with a picky patron accidentally led to the creation of the first c-r-i-s-p-y chip. 🙂

The story you are about to savor is a fictional tale with a helping of truth.

With those appetizing words, we meet George Crum, busy in his kitchen.

He fricasséed and flambéed, boiled and braised, poached and puréed. He made sorbets and soufflés, stews and succotashes, ragouts and goulashes.

Make no spuds about it, George loved what he did and he was really good at it. He had his own restaurant, Crum’s Place, where he and his plum-cheeked waitress Gladys kept customers happy devouring his choice concoctions.

George was considered to be the best cook in the county — until one fateful day, when a certain Filbert P. Horsefeathers walked in and ordered a “heaping helping of potatoes.”

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[review + giveaway] Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Freight train, freight train run so fast
Freight train, freight train run so fast
Please don’t tell what train I’m on
They won’t know what route I’ve gone.

So begins one of the most famous folk songs of the twentieth century. Here in America, many of us grew up hearing it on the radio or at music festivals, or maybe even in the classroom.

Though I was familiar with the popular renditions of “Freight Train” by Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, and Joan Baez, I never really knew who wrote the song, nor had I heard of African American folk musician, singer and songwriter Elizabeth Cotten before reading this fabulous new picture book.

In Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by singer-songwriter Laura Veirs and debut illustrator Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (Chronicle Books, 2018), we see how Libba ultimately accomplished “what she was born to do” despite the many ups and downs in her life.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. You know how it is. You stumble out of bed, reach for your phone, turn on the TV, or if you’re old school, check the headlines on the front page. There is this urge to find out if the world is still intact.

Even though you don’t want to, you check Twitter. Which of our allies has been insulted by the highest office in the land? Who’s been given a new nickname and attacked? What lies have been told?

Mornings are hard enough, but all this is . . . unbearable and demoralizing. For survival sake, we all need a little levity. Why drink your first cup of java in a ho-hum mug when you can brace up, smile, and be a little naughty? 🙂

Check out the cool camping mugs at pnwenamelco (Pacific Northwest Enamel Company). I love owner and designer Karen Simpson’s irreverence! Political humor not your style? She’s got designs for outdoor lovers, nerds, Harry Potter fans and more. These make a fun novelty gift, or if you’re in the mood, treat yourself!  Nephew cracked a rare smile when he received the Covfefe mug for his birthday last summer . . .


2. So, as the joke goes, “How do you like your eggs?” Answer: “In cake.” 😀

But if you’re Michele Baldini, your answer would probably be, “Fried up as a work of art.” The 20-year-old medical student from Mexico makes breakfast magic with his eggstraordinary yolk and white creations.

Using a plain black frying pan as his canvas, he’s done people, a little Van Gogh, countries, animals, symbols, whatever comes to mind.

His wolf howling at the moon is a fan favorite, but I’m quite partial to the kitty face. Wonder how many yolks he’s broken in the process? Lots more at Michele’s Instagram, “The Eggshibit.” Omelet you go now . . . 😀


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[review + recipe] Pass the Pandowdy, Please by Abigail Ewing Zelz and Eric Zelz

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Imagine attending a sumptuous banquet where the invited guests are fascinating historical figures from around the world.

Seated to your left, the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II feasts on “tortillas, corn, roast duck, rabbit, turkey, and fruit,” before swigging a dozen gold cups of frothy, spicy chocolate. Ahhh!

To your right, Christopher Columbus tentatively samples an avocado, a few guavas, some peanuts and pumpkin. He’s already devoured all the pineapples in sight. “Got any spices?” he asks.

Up at the head table, the ravishing Cleopatra nibbles on a few apricots and figs before fixing her make-up. Pharaohs must always look their best, after all. Her homemade lipstick made from crushed beetles and ants always does the trick. That, and a few pickles.

In Pass the Pandowdy, Please: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and Their Fabulous Foods (Tilbury House, 2016), author Abigail Ewing Zelz and illustrator Eric Zelz shine the spotlight on 16 cool movers and shakers through the ever tempting lens of food. As Abigail notes in her introduction, “food reflects culture, climate, time period, wealth, and beliefs.” No better way to get to know someone, I always say.

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[review + recipe + giveaway] Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Today we are doubly delighted to congratulate Poetry Friday friends Irene Latham and Charles Waters on their brand new poetry picture book, Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (Carolrhoda, 2018), illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.


Irene and Charles met in person for the first time at last November’s AASL Conference in Phoenix, AZ.


Officially released January 1st, this timely collection of 33 free verse poems explores the sensitive issues of race, racism, and identity with heart and candor.

Latham and Waters channel their fifth grade selves in alternating poems written by young “Irene,” who’s white, and young “Charles,” who’s black, two public school students working on a classroom Poetry Project together.

In the course of the narrative, we see how Irene and Charles, initially reluctant at being partners, gradually build mutual trust, sowing the seeds of a unique friendship as they discover things about each other, themselves, and the world beyond home and school.

They start out wary and hesitant; shy and quiet Irene describing Charles as “you-never-know-what-he’s-going-to-say Charles,” and gregarious Charles disappointed that he’s “stuck with Irene,” a girl who “hardly says anything . . . Plus she’s white.”

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