[review] All Aboard the London Bus by Patricia Toht and Sam Usher

Hurry, the bus is here! You don’t want to miss a single minute of the tour!

One of the things I loved best about living in London was public transport. Never had to worry about driving on the left side of the road, navigating those tricky roundabouts (how our British friends teased us Americans for calling them “traffic circles”!), or wasting precious time looking for a parking spot.

I was constantly amazed at how easy it was to get around a city of that size. I could take the London Underground (affectionately known as “the tube”), catch a friendly black cab, or pop onto an iconic red double-decker bus, and in no time, I’d be happily browsing the bookstores in Charing Cross Road, spending money I didn’t have at Harrod’s, or visiting the teddy bears at Hamley’s. No matter where I was headed, it was always such fun seeing London from the top deck of the bus.

You can see why I was excited when All Aboard the London Bus (Frances Lincoln, 2017) appeared in my mailbox. How could I not love a poetry picture book introducing kids to the coolest sights in my favorite city?

Written by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Sam Usher, it contains 24 lively, fun-to-read, mostly rhyming poems showcasing London’s most popular tourist attractions. We follow a family of four as they board a double-decker bus and make stops at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum, and more.

The warm, enthusiastic opener gets us revved up for a jolly good time. πŸ™‚

click to enlarge

Come!
Board the double-decker bus
and see the London sights with us.
At any time, hop off.

Explore!

Then climb back on and ride some more.
For better views, climb up the stairs —
the city views are great from there.
Here’s your map and city guide.
Settle back. Enjoy the ride.
Buenos dΓ­as!
Bonjour!
Hello!
Guten Tag!
Ni hao!

Let’s go!

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Wit on Rye: Paul Violi’s “Counterman”

photo by Baldomero Fernandez (Katz’s: Autobiography of a Delicatessen)

So, where’s the beef?

It all depends on who’s roasting it and how you order. Here’s to the many flavors of language, elevating the seemingly mundane into art, and having the appetite for a tasty serving of wit on rye.

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“Waiting at the Deli Counter” by James Crandall

 

COUNTERMAN
by Paul Violi

What’ll it be?

Roast beef on rye, with tomato and mayo.

Whaddaya want on it?

A swipe of mayo.
Pepper but no salt.

You got it. Roast beef on rye.
You want lettuce on that?

No. Just tomato and mayo.

Tomato and mayo. You got it.
. . . Salt and pepper?

No salt, just a little pepper.

You got it. No salt.
You want tomato.

Yes. Tomato. No lettuce.

No lettuce. You got it.
. . . No salt, right?

Right. No salt.

You got it. Pickle?

No, no pickle. Just tomato and mayo.
And pepper.

Pepper.

Yes, a little pepper.

Right. A little pepper.
No pickle.

Right. No pickle.

You got it.
Next!

Roast beef on whole wheat, please,
With lettuce, mayonnaise and a center slice
Of beefsteak tomato.
The lettuce splayed, if you will,
In a Beaux Arts derivative of classical acanthus,
And the roast beef, thinly sliced, folded
In a multi-foil arrangement
That eschews Bragdonian pretensions
Or any idea of divine geometric projection
For that matter, but simply provides
A setting for the tomato
To form a medallion with a dab
Of mayonnaise as a fleuron.
And — as eclectic as this may sound —
If the mayonnaise can also be applied
Along the crust in a Vitruvian scroll
And as a festoon below the medallion,
That would be swell.

You mean like in the Cathedral St. Pierre in Geneva?

Yes, but the swag more like the one below the rosette
At the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

You got it.
Next!

~ from Overnight (Hanging Loose Press, 2007)

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poetry friday roundup is here!

Happy May, and Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

So, a new month, the month of flowers and strawberries and Mother’s Day (sigh). Tell me, on the first of May, did you wash your face with morning dew to maintain your youthful appearance? Will you scamper through the meadows wild with a garland of blossoms in your hair?

And are you smiling right now? In the UK, May is National Smile Month. Sounds good to me (call me Cheshire Cat). πŸ™‚

I think a good way to celebrate this new month is with a Mary Oliver poem. We’ve talked before about the importance of art, beauty, and gratitude. Whether you write or draw, it all begins with careful observation, being fully present, and as Oliver says, “learning to be astonished.” What is your message?

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photo by Julie White

MESSENGER
by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird β€”
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ from Thirst: Poems (Beacon Press, 2007)

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Though this poem is the perfect writer’s credo, this “job” of rejoicing in the wonders of the natural world is a worthy one for all human beings. In this way we become stewards of this fragile earth. In this way we are all poets. πŸ™‚

I’m anxious to see what you’re sharing this week, so please leave your links with the amiable Mr. Linky below. Do help yourself to a little light refreshment to bolster you on your travels from blog to blog. πŸ™‚

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🎈 KEEP A POCKET IN YOUR POEM GIVEAWAY WINNER! πŸŽ‰

Happy to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright is:

TANITA S. DAVIS!!

WOO HOO!

Congratulations, Tanita!!

Please send along your snail mail address so we can get the book shipped out to you pronto.

Thanks, everyone, for entering the giveaway. πŸ™‚

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Thanks so much for joining us today!!

🌺 HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU! πŸ“


Copyright Β© 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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[review + giveaway] Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

~ Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (“Keep a Poem in Your Pocket”)

So begins J. Patrick Lewis’s brand new poetry picture book, in which he pairs 13 classic poems on a variety of subjects with his own inventive parodies. Beatrice Schenk de Regnier’s opening poem sets the tone by touting the delights of the imagination, while Lewis’s poetic response (“Keep a Pocket in Your Poem”) advises us to think up wondrous, concrete objects (“red hawk feather,/silver penny, pinkie ring”) to spark the creative process.

In his introduction, Lewis explains that writing a parody is the best way to pay tribute to someone else’s work. He’s clearly a poet who likes to tweak, twist and tinker — not only with words, but with ideas, thoughts, and emotions.

As old poem faces off against new, it’s interesting to see the different directions Lewis has taken as he echoes, mimics, and counters. With this side by side format, young readers are given great examples of how one might imitate a well-known poem, whether they choose to express a similar sentiment (Lewis’s “Winter Warmth” in response to Langston Hughes’s “Winter Sweetness”), or contrast the original (Lewis’s “Rats” vs. Rose Flyeman’s “Mice,” or Lewis’s “Hail” vs Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”).

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two scrumptious food poems from barbara crooker’s new book Les Fauves

Ever have this daydream?

You decide to take a break after writing all morning. When you step outside, instead of your ho-hum suburban neighborhood, you find yourself in one of the most beautiful villages in southern France.

Breathe that bracing air! What a gorgeous, deep blue cloudless sky! Love the quaint cobblestone streets, ivy climbing up ancient brick walls, morning glories spilling out of flower boxes. And crusty baguettes in bicycle baskets!

Mmmmm — what’s that heavenly aroma? Following your nose, you spy a charming boulangerie just around the corner. Your prayers have been answered! Give us this day our daily bread — and we would not object in the least if you’d like to throw in a few French pastries. Mais, oui!

Thanks to the inimitable Barbara Crooker, we can visit the boulangerie of our dreams at this very moment. You have to love a country where food is an art form and bakers are revered, where the universal language of deliciousness brings people closer together. There is no finer way to feed the soul than to savor each bite with passion and gratitude.

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