[review + recipes] Cooking with Bear by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar

 

When the snow begins to melt and early morning bird song fills the air, everybear knows spring is coming. Time to yawn, stretch, wake up from long winter naps and get cooking!

Loud whoops and hollers erupted in the Alphabet Soup kitchen when Mr Cornelius and the other resident bears first saw Cooking with Bear: A Story and Recipes from the Forest, by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar (Groundwood Books, 2019).

They were certain Ms. Hodges had written the book just for them, and with the fist pumps, prancing, drooling, and yes, page licking, it was all I could do to get them to pawse for a minute to take a breath. 🙂

 

 

Cooking with Bear is the companion book to Bear’s Winter Party (2016), where we are first introduced to amiable, good-hearted Bear. Since the other animals in the forest are understandably wary of him (sharp teeth, long claws, so big!), he spends most of his time alone. Bear decides to change that by throwing a party.

After sprucing up his den, he whips up some huckleberry tarts, honey-ginger cookies, and spiced cranberry tea. Deer, Beaver, Fox, Hare, Chickadee, and Squirrel all have a great time singing, dancing, and getting acquainted with Bear over his homemade treats. At party’s end, they leave Bear to settle down for his winter’s nap. Now he’s content that when spring arrives, he’ll have “a forest full of friends.”

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Since we’re definitely in a “spring is almost here!” mood, we’re starting off with some charming watercolors by Chicago-based artist, illustrator, educator, and writer Michelle Kogan.

I first saw Michelle’s work on the cover of the very first Today’s Little Ditty Anthology (2014-2015), edited by the indefatigable Michelle H. Barnes (there is definitely something magical about Michelles). Michelle K. then joined the Poetry Friday gang, and we’ve been treated to her delightful posts every week, where she shares both her poetry and art (doubly delish).

 

 

Michelle is a lifelong nature lover, and her paintings depict the interesting bits of flora and fauna she observes in her various ramblings. She likes to paint outdoors during the summer, either in her own garden or in other nature venues in the Chicago area.

 

 

 

Michelle also paints figures, some of whom appear in her children’s illustrations. A staunch advocate of preserving our natural environment, she hopes her work will continue to inspire more beauty.

 

 

 

Do check out Michelle’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase archival prints, mini-prints, cards, bookmarks, journals and postcards. And of course there’s more art at her Official Website, and poetry and art every week at her blog. Contact Michelle directly via her website for info about classes and workshops, or for poetry, children’s book, or painting commissions.

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claire fletcher: stepping back in time

 

This is probably the first Claire Fletcher painting I ran into several years ago and I’ve been in love with her work ever since.

As usual, I was probably searching for bears and this piece caught my eye because it contains a real bear as well as a teddy. There was much “ooohing and ahhhhhing” in the Alphabet Soup kitchen, so naturally I had to find out more.

Here’s a picture of Claire. Don’t you love her braids?

 

 

She lives in Hastings, a seaside town/fishing port on the southern coast of England. It looks like she collects vintage toys and ephemera. My kind of person!

This is the bio from her website:

 

Whether it’s her acrylic or watercolor paintings, illustration work, or pen-and-ink drawings, I like them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[review + giveaway] On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring by Buffy Silverman

 

On a chilly-dilly, boot-tapping, happy-making day, we’re delighted to share Buffy Silverman’s brand new picture book, On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring (Millbrook Press, 2020)!

What’s the weather like where you are? Are you buried under mounds of snow, down with a bit of cabin fever, or reveling in a February thaw?

Chances are good you’ve already been dreaming of spring, and if you live in our neck of the woods, have likely seen the first robins returning from their winter vacations.

All I know is it’s never too early to celebrate the arrival of warmer days as tiny buds appear, animals begin to stir, and slabs of ice slide down the roof. Let the great melt begin!

On a Snow-Melting Day is actually a cleverly crafted extended poem, with each line accompanied by a splendid color photo. Buffy has invited us on a fun, illuminating, multi-sensory lakeside amble featuring plants, birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, and the star of the show — water — in all three of its forms.

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Chatting with Elisa Kleven about Hiro’s Hats (+ a giveaway!)

 

Today, we are delighted to welcome back favorite author/illustrator Elisa Kleven to talk about her brand new picture book, Hiro’s Hats (Wild Swans Publishing Cooperative, 2019).

In this whimsical wintry tale set in the mountains of Japan, an adorable snow monkey finds a colorful hat “flying like a bright bird through the sky.” Soon after Hiro waves hello and the hat waves back, it flutters down to play, jumping in the leaves and flying like a kite in the wind.

 

 

Although his siblings tease him, Hiro loves the hat and considers it a friend. The hat seems to love him back, too. When it begins to snow and the world turns “as white as the moon,” the hat keeps him warm.

Only a friendly robin seems to understand. She wishes she had a hat just like Hiro’s, but he warns her that other robins might tease her. She assures him that they already do, calling her a baby because she loves her cozy nest.

 

 

 

Hiro and Robin joyously play together, making a snow monkey with a moss hat. When the wind snatches both hats away, Robin goes after Hiro’s hat, disappearing into the storm. Now Robin and her nest are gone, and Hiro is devastated. The next morning, Hiro wakens to find he’s wearing a snow hat and he hears singing.

 

 

It’s Robin! The friends are happily reunited and spend the rest of the winter together. With Robin snuggling on Hiro’s head with outstretched wings, he now has a warm feathery hat while she has a cozy nest. Come spring, Robin provides Hiro with the best hat of all, while all the other snow monkeys gleefully celebrate the season with silly spring hats of their own. You’ll have to read the story to find out what actually happened to Hiro’s very first hat. 🙂

Elisa’s engaging text and exquisite mixed media collages will captivate young readers, appealing to their love of creative play and making them wish they could be Hiro’s friend. His personality is so endearing and child-like, and as we see him giving his hat a bath, tumbling in the snow, or gleefully interacting with Robin, he’s just plain lovable and irresistibly charming.

 

 

Hiro’s Hats is perfect for imaginative readers who like emotionally resonant stories about animals, friendship, and the seasons, and who appreciate beautifully textured illustrations with a wealth of fine details. Elisa has also included some interesting facts about snow monkeys at the end for those wanting to learn more.

 

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