let’s have dinner with the highbrows (or not)

Ahem. It’s time to sit up straight, place our napkins in our laps, and make polite conversation at the table.

Or, we can fling meatballs at each other.

I leave it to you to decide which would be more fun and/or politically correct. 🙂

To help make up your mind, why not take a bite or two of Dinner with the Highbrows: A Story About Good (or Bad) Manners (Henry Holt, 2014) by Kimberly Willis Holt and Kyrsten Brooker?

Bernard could hardly wait until next Saturday. He was invited to eat dinner with Gilbert Highbrow’s family. Bernard had never eaten at a friend’s house.

Bernard’s mom is all a-fluster. The Highbrows live in “a fine house” and only the best manners will do for such posh people. She coaches Bernard all week on the essentials: compliment and thank the hosts, say a blessing, no elbows on the table, don’t talk with your mouth full, no singing!, help clear the dishes. Bernard practices and practices, hoping he’ll be able to remember all the rules.

Art ©2014 Krysten Brooker

On Saturday, he’s excited but nervous. When he finally gets to the Highbrows’, he’s greeted by shouts and cheers and quickly whisked off with the family to Antonio’s restaurant in a white limousine.

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a little taste of portland, maine

Cornelius loves the ginger cookie from Two Fat Cats Bakery.

One of the “main” reasons I was anxious to visit Southern Maine recently was because I kept hearing about the great food in Portland.

Bon Appétit called it “The Foodiest Small Town in America,” while others in-the-know freely describe Portland as “a foodie’s paradise,” a major dining destination not only in New England but the entire Northeast.


Second only to San Francisco in restaurants per capita, the largest city in Maine may not be a major metropolis like New York or Boston, but when it comes to good food, it’s big on appeal, quality, and innovation. If you know Portland at all, you know it’s fertile ground for creative types, so it’s no surprise that cooking is enthusiastically celebrated and embraced as a fine art. It’s all about showcasing fresh local ingredients and maximizing the unique wealth of resources that circle the city (farms, apiaries, fishing grounds, dairies, smokehouses).

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hello, brand new year!

corn leis
Thanks for the beautiful lei, Cobi!

Hello, Cutie Pies, and Happy New Year. We’re baaaaack!

Yes, well, mostly. Still battling the jet lag . . . lag . . . lag . . .

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that Santa was extra good to you. I must say, you’re as good looking as ever and none the worse for the wear (are those cookie crumbs I see on your face?). Mr. Cornelius and I had fun visiting friends and relatives in Hawai’i, where the operative word is FOOD. Enjoyed Christmas at my brother’s, some great restaurant outings, and of course, the ultimate New Year’s Korean Feast at my parents’ home (details in a separate post).

edwards soup (2)Yay! It’s a brand new year and a brand new month. January is a particular favorite because it’s National Soup Month and Hot Tea Month. I’m looking forward to welcoming some cool guests to Alphabet Soup in the coming weeks, not only authors and illustrators talking about their new books, but also folks who create some fabulous arts and crafts. Look for, “Indie Artist Spotlight,” a new interview series featuring some immensely talented artisans and their work. I’ve always loved unique, heartmade, handcrafted goods, and try to support independent artists whenever possible. I can’t wait to learn more about their inspirations and processes!

For now, check out some of our Hawai’i adventures. As usual, Mr. Cornelius ate more than anyone else and loved having his picture taken. (He asks that you hold your applause until the end.) 🙂

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sippin’ soup at happy harry’s café by michael rosen and richard holland


Okay. I admit it. It’s entirely impossible for me to be objective about this book.

Look at the cover forcryingoutloud. See the rotund bearish guy with impish eyebrows wielding tiny cups and saucers on a tray? Well, if you think he’s cute there, wait till you see what he does in this story. His name is Harry and he makes SOUP! !


Now, it would be one thing if Harry’s soup was merely good, the kind that makes people politely smile and nod their heads and say things like, “Mmmm, how tasty, I’d love another bowl.” But this Harry, red suspenders red-and-white checked kerchief I don’t need to wear a shirt in my own café Harry, makes EXTRAORDINARY soup — soup so unbelievably delicious people are always run run running to the café before the soup runs out.

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soup of the day: see you at harry’s by jo knowles (and a giveaway)!

Why hello!

You’re just in time to help us celebrate the official release of See You at Harry’s (Candlewick, 2012), a brand new middle grade novel by the lovely and supremely talented Jo Knowles!

Little Jo, Champion Cone Licker

I’ve been really excited about this book ever since I first heard about it a couple of years ago, not only because I’m a big fan of Jo’s writing, but because this particular story was inspired by her childhood experiences of growing up in the restaurant business in Laconia, New Hampshire.*swoon*

Keller’s was the first of several restaurants owned by Jo’s family in New Hampshire.

Could there be anything better than having your family own a restaurant that’s also an ice cream factory?! Bring me Apple Orchard Pancakes and a Spanish Omelette for breakfast, a Knickerbocker Sandwich for lunch, Stuffed Hamburg Casserole for dinner (extra cheese, ham and mushrooms, please!), and of course, a hot fudge sundae, root beer float or strawberry ice cream cone every day after school. Yum — my idea of culinary heaven! It had to have been fun getting to know some of the customers, helping out with odd jobs, and seeing how large quantities of ice cream was made.

Lick your screen. You know you want to.

But where are my manners? Before I give you the full scoop on this wonderful book, a few delectable party favors.

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