nine cool things on a tuesday

1.  Nothing cozier than settling down in your favorite armchair, book in hand, cat purring, tea and cake at the ready (don’t you love the blue and white china?). 🙂

Self taught UK artist Lucy Almey Bird grew up in rural Somerset, and likes to paint domestic scenes from everyday life. I love the “kinder, gentler” tone of her pictures, many of which show people reading and relaxing, enjoying the fresh air, or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.

Pretty details catch your eye, such as the patterns on clothing or wallpaper, and intricately drawn leaves, branches, or wildflower blossoms. 

The child of creative parents, Lucy was encouraged to draw and paint from an early age. Regular trips to museums and art galleries ignited her passion for art. She works primarily with acrylic on board, and you can order prints by emailing her via her website.

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2. New Picture Book Alert! Just released March 30, 2021: Be a Tree! by Maria Gianferrari and Felicita Sala (Abrams, 2021)!

A lyrical, gorgeously illustrated look at the majesty of trees—and what humans can learn from them.

Stand tall. 
Stretch your branches to the sun. 
Be a tree!

We are all like trees: our spines, trunks; our skin, bark; our hearts giving us strength and support, like heartwood. We are fueled by air and sun.

And, like humans, trees are social. They “talk” to spread information; they share food and resources. They shelter and take care of one another. They are stronger together.
In this gorgeous and poetic celebration of one of nature’s greatest creations, acclaimed author Maria Gianferrari and illustrator Felicita Sala both compare us to the beauty and majesty of trees—and gently share the ways in which trees can inspire us to be better people.

As someone who lives in the woods, and who’s also a big fan of both Maria’s and Felicita’s work, I am extra excited about seeing this one. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Be a Tree! has already received **starred reviews** from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, who said, “This book has the advantage of lyrical, accessible poetry and vibrant watercolors from an ever changing palette.”

Sigh. I may have to go outside and read this book to our trees. 🙂

Congratulations, Maria and Felicita!

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[review + giveaway] Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk by Jorge Argueta

In October 2018, the night before a caravan of fellow citizens planned to leave San Salvador for the United States, eminent author, poet, and humanitarian Jorge Argueta spoke with many of them who had gathered at the Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo, a large public square in the city.

As someone who had fled El Salvador over 35 years ago, Argueta understood only too well why they had chosen to risk their lives and that of their children to undertake the arduous 2,500-mile journey. He listened to their stories, offered encouragement and support, and was no doubt profoundly moved by the hope they carried in their hearts: hope for a safe haven from gang violence, hope to escape the demoralizing cycle of poverty, hope for a chance to rebuild their lives with honest work, hope for better futures for their children, hope for kindness and compassion from the strangers they would meet along the way.

Inspired by these conversations, Argueta wrote a verse novel told in the voice of Misael Ramírez, a young asylum seeker who joined the caravan with his parents and brother Martín.

Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk (Groundwood Books, 2019), is a realistic, heart-wrenching account of the physical and emotional hardships families like Misael’s endured as they left El Salvador with nothing more than a jacket and a small backpack of hopes and dreams to face the unknown.

 

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hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Guadalupe Garcia McCall

I am a wife and mother of three grown men who will always be my boys! I love to read anything and everything! I have three books out, UNDER THE MESQUITE (Lee & Low Books, 2011) is a contemporary novel-in-verse, SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS (Tu Books, 2012), is a fantasy featuring creatures from Mexican mythology, and the upcoming SHAME THE STARS (Tu Books, 2016) is a historical set in 1915 Texas during the Mexican Revolution.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: A good cup of instant Mexican coffee, not too strong, not too mild. With sprinkle of sweetener and a bit of cream. It will wake me up and give me the fortitude to sit down and write!

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Summer of the Mariposas (Tu Books, 2012); Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low Books, 2011); The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2014). Forthcoming: My new book, SHAME THE STARS, is due for publication in September 2016 from Tu Books and I couldn’t be more excited!

 

 

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup, Caldo, Caldo, Caldo! by Diane Gonzalez Bertrand and Alex Pardo Delange (Piñata Books, 2008) is my favorite food related book because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good bowl of caldo. Caldo has the power to warm even the coldest heart!

☕ Visit Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Official Website.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out this student video of Guadalupe’s poem “Cicada” from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science:

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☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Book Trailer for Summer of the Mariposas!

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☕☕☕☕ STILL THIRSTY: Wonderful video of Guadalupe discussing the genesis and development of Summer of the Mariposas, which was selected for the 2015 Spirit of Texas Reading Program:

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Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

Laura Shovan’s Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary + Poetry Friday Roundup

Please help yourself to some matzo with cream cheese and strawberry jam.

HAPPY POETRY FRIDAY

AND

HAPPY PASSOVER!

Today we’d like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Laura Shovan on the official release of her first middle grade verse novel on April 12! Hooray for Laura!!

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (Wendy Lamb Books, 2016) is a captivating story told entirely through a series of poems written by one fifth grade class over the course of a year. We meet 18 diverse, distinctive, quirky, totally believable kids navigating the changes that come with friendships old and new, first crushes, and other relatable challenges such as divorce and stepfamilies, death and illness of family members, being the new kid, homelessness, assimilation and identity.

Though each has his/her own hopes, dreams, and concerns, these students form a special bond over one big change that affects them all: their beloved school is facing closure at the end of the year. Inspired by their teacher’s political activism in the 60’s, they are determined to make their voices heard to help save Emerson.

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hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of the Newbery Honor verse novel, The Surrender Tree, Pura Belpré Award-winning verse memoir, Enchanted Air, and Charlotte Zolotow Award winning picture book, Drum Dream Girl. Other honors include multiple Pura Belpré Medals, Américas Awards, PEN USA Award, Jane Addams Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor, and International Reading Association Award.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Café con leche (coffee with milk), made with a mixture of Cuban espresso (Café La Llave brand) and Italian roast (Starbucks brand). I love REALLY strong coffee, but I only drink it in the morning, so it doesn’t keep me awake at night. Maybe that’s why I do most of my writing early, before my brain runs out of caffeine.

* Cultural Note: many Latino children are introduced to café con leche at the age of two, so why aren’t there any children’s books about coffee? If I thought I could get it published, I would write one! My Abuelita (grandma) used to scold me for not serving my son coffee when he was little. She said, “¡Es un hombrecito, necesita su café!” (He’s a little man, he needs his coffee!)

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir (Atheneum, 2015); Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (HMH, 2015); The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist, illustrated by Aliona Bereghici (Two Lions, 2015); Orangutanka: A Story in Poems, illustrated by Renee Kurilla (Henry Holt, 2015). Forthcoming: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words (Atheneum, August 2016) — a verse novel about the nonviolent freedom struggle of indentured Chinese laborers; and Morning Star Horse/El Caballo Lucero (HBE Publishers, Autumn 2016) — a middle grade historical fantasy about Cuban children at San Diego’s Raja Yoga Academy.

 

 

 

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOKS: Three Golden Oranges by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Reg Cartwright (Atheneum, 2012); Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2012); Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Hayelin Choi (Readers to Eaters, 2014).

☕ Visit Margarita Engle’s Official Website

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Short poems related to the [above] photograph of myself drinking café con leche beside my father’s painting of my mother picking pomegranates. She was wearing sandals, but he left them out, and I have chosen to speculate about the reason.

 

Coffee Tanka

each hot sip
of café con leche
carries me
traveling back to childhood
watching as grownups savor time

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Pomegranate Tanka

my father
paints her harvesting pomegranates—
barefoot
the reality of shoes
too modern for this lush garden

~ Copyright © 2016 Margarita Engle. All rights reserved.

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☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Enjoy this book trailer for The Sky Painter!

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☕☕☕☕ STILL THIRSTY:  Speaking of Margarita’s parents, she explains the romantic story of how they met in the first of this series of videos:

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Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.