Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974) is one of the most celebrated Japanese artists/illustrators in the world. She’s as popular and beloved in her home country as Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, or Garth Williams is in America.
She’s known for her soft, delicate, flowing watercolors of children and flowers, centering around the theme of “peace and happiness for children.” Her artistic style is a distinctive blend of Western watercolor strokes and traditional Eastern painting techniques. She sometimes incorporated Japanese calligraphy in her work.
I only discovered Iwasaki’s work recently; her pictures called out to me just when I needed them most. They’re certainly a welcome balm for difficult times. I love the gentleness and innocence, the rich beauty and wistfulness in her paintings, and how brilliantly she captures the emotions and posturings of babies, toddlers, and grade school kids.
She published about 40 books and made over 8000 drawings in her lifetime. She was a Hans Christian Andersen fan, and illustrated several of his tales which were published in English.
“Mankind is Noodlekind” ~ Momofuku Ando
Know what would really hit the spot right about now?
A warm bowl of instant ramen. Care to join me?
I can’t even guess how many years I’ve been going from “hungry to happy” with Top Ramen and Cup Noodles. They’re pretty unbeatable (and ubiquitous) as comfort food — quick, convenient, portable, shelf stable, cheap, tasty and satisfying. It’s the kind of thing you take for granted, the food that helped you get through college. 🙂
But do you know who actually invented instant ramen?
I first heard of Taiwanese-born Momofuku Ando in an article that appeared in David Chang’s inaugural issue of the now defunct Lucky Peach magazine (2011). What a fascinating and inspirational story! Anyone who’s ever slurped up their fair share of ramen should know the who, what, when, how, and why of what the Japanese consider to be their best invention of the 20th century.
Now, thanks to Andrea Wang and Kana Urbanowicz, hungry, noodle-loving kids can read all about it in a new picture book, Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando (little bee books, 2019). They will see that because of one man’s compassion, ingenuity, persistence, and entrepreneurial smarts, people all over the world can make their own delicious ramen “anywhere, anytime” in just a few minutes. 🙂
So pleased to welcome award winning author Mary Quattlebaum to talk about her new National Geographic Kids picture book, Brother, Sister, Me and You (2019), which features the unique sibling bonds of eleven different types of animals (including humans). 🙂
Mary is uniquely qualified in this subject as she grew up with three brothers and three sisters. Her lively, fun-to-read rhyming text is paired with color photos of adorable cubs, kits, chicks, pups, and ducklings who are having too much fun leaping, paddling, tumbling, climbing and bouncing together. We soon see how humans are much the same when it comes to interacting and playing with our siblings.
Sister lion leaps and pounces.
Honeybees do wiggle-bounces.
Ducklings paddle through the water.
Brother splashes sister otter.
So, why did Mary want to write this book? What are some of the things she liked to do with her brothers and sisters? Yes, cooking was one of them, and she’s got a couple of recipes to share. Read on!
1. There’s nothing ho-hum about Oregon-based ceramicist Sara Swink’s work. She creates human and animal figures that tease our thinking and beg interpretation. She takes something familiar and gives it a dreamlike, bizarre, or even humorous twist. Her distinctive pieces definitely compel us to take a second or third look.
Her love of clay began when she was eight, with the encouragement of a neighbor who was a potter. She learned to throw on a potter’s wheel, hand build and mix glazes in high school, even buying her own wheel with money earned cleaning houses.
Some twenty years later, she began taking ceramics classes, then studied art history, printmaking, drawing, and foundry work at several universities while teaching. Studying with Coeleen Kiebert (whose approach is to fuse artmaking with the psychology of the individual) was pivotal in shaping Sara’s work. Sara’s pieces can be seen as expressions of her inner psyche; there is a personal narrative that runs through all her art.
Sara opened Clay Circle Studio when she moved to the Portland area in 2006 and continues to offer workshops. Find out more about her classes at her official website, where you can also view a wonderful archive of available and past pieces.
1. Here’s something to make National Poetry Month even more fabulous: a new activity book by London-based illustrator, designer and cut-paper collage queen Clover Robin!
Origami and Poetry: Inspired by Nature (Nosy Crow, 2019), was just released in mid March, and is a wonderful way for kids to extend their enjoyment of poetry with hands-on fun.
This stunning book features nature-inspired poems and origami. For each animal or object, children will be able to read a poem and then make a corresponding origami figure! With clear, simple directions and links to helpful videos for how to make thirteen animals or objects and fifty sheets of origami paper, this is the perfect introduction to the art of paper folding.
You may remember we featured Clover Robin’s work not too long ago; she is brilliant and her love of nature shines through in all her projects. Snip snip snip!
2. Look what’s coming out later this year: Sesame Street postage stamps! In honor of Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing 16 Forever stamps featuring some of the beloved characters from the show, including Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo and Grover. Nice to see that Julia, a new character with autism who was introduced in 2017, is also part of the line-up.
My favorite has always been Elmo, though when I get some of these stamps I will use Oscar the Grouch to mail all my bills. 🙂