1. With the world going mad, we need someone easy on the eyes to lift our spirits. Who better than Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark? Season 2 of the series is not coming our way for awhile, so in the meantime, indulge your fantasies about this fine specimen of manhood with the 2017 Poldark Calendar by Andy Rose Photography. Aidan Turner month by month, all year long! Ooh-la-la. Calendar images are also available as prints, or on mugs, fridge magnets, throw pillows, and tea towels. Imagine a Poldark mug full of warm Irish Breakfast tea! Mmmmm.
2. Heads up Wizard of Oz fans! The first four books in Debbi Michiko Florence’snew Dorothy and Toto early reader chapter book series published by Picture Window Books are now available for pre-order! The series officially launches in August for library editions (trade paperbacks out in October), and the stories look adorable. Here’s the synopsis for Dorothy and Toto: What’s YOUR Name?:
Dorothy’s made a new friend in the Land of Oz. But every time he sees her and her little dog, Toto, he calls her by a nickname, much to Dorothy’s dismay. With its sweet, gentle tone, this title is a reminder that the best friendships are built on honesty and trust.
The other books are Dorothy and Toto: The Hunt for the Perfect Present, Dorothy and Toto: The Disappearing Picnic, and Dorothy and Toto: Little Dog Lost. Can’t wait to read them!
3. New poetry book alert! The Doll Collection, the first themed anthology published by the newly established small press Terrapin Books, was just released at the end of March. The first anthology to focus solely on dolls, it contains 88 poems by such poets as Gail Gerwin, Adele Kenny, Michael Waters, Susan Rich, Kim Roberts, Charlotte Mandel, Andrea Potos, Richard Garcia and Jeffrey Harrison.
Why do dolls compel us so much? What are their meanings? What lessons do they have to teach us? The Doll Collection explores these questions. This wonderful anthology of poems asks us to rethink dolls. Not just toys, dolls signify much more than childhood. Dolls shape our thinking about the female body, about race and class. Dolls influence our understanding of childhood. Symbols of perfection, they both comfort and terrify. Dolls represent, as Freud would say, the “uncanny.” They are replicas, simulacra, souvenirs and secrets. They are objects we recall with intense nostalgia but also bodies we dismember and destroy. They might be made of cornhusks, clay, rags, paper, cloth, wood, porcelain, celluloid, bisque, plastic, or metal. For centuries, dolls have taught us how to understand our world and are windows to other worlds. Dolls are portals to our pasts and to ourselves. Dolls open the doors to our imagination. (from the Introduction, by Nicole Cooley)
You may remember my mentioning that Terrapin Books was founded by New Jersey poet Diane Lockward, whose poems have been featured here at Alphabet Soup many times, along with poems by several other poets featured in this anthology.
4. Looking for a unique party favor — maybe for a special birthday, anniversary or graduation party? What about cookies that look like the guest(s) of honor? Check out Parker’s Crazy Cookies! The all-natural vanilla-flavored cookies are low sugar, low fat, and contain no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. All you have to do is pick a ship date and send them your artwork or photo. You’ll receive a rough draft (open to revisions) within 24-48 hours. Once they receive your approval, your cookies will be freshly baked on the day you requested shipment.
This looks like a fun, novel idea. You can also order pet look-alike custom cookies or choose from their all occasion Cookie Collections.
5. I’m a big fan of stop motion films and love “Fresh Guacamole” by PES, where familiar objects are used as ingredients. This film was nominated for an Academy Award back in 2013 and is the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. Brilliant!
6. And now, Star Wars fans, behold Darth Grater, a silicone cheese grater that’s “an elegant kitchen implement from a far more civilized age.” Now you can use the unlimited power of the force to add flavor to your cooking. Looks ‘great’ doesn’t it (tee hee)? Coming to a galaxy near you in October 2016. Available now for pre-order. May the cheese be with you.
7. Here are several beautiful lampshades you definitely wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) want to wear on your head, but they sure would dress up a special lamp perched on an end table in a favorite room.
The Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party shade was the first to catch my eye, but I also love the Woodland Wonders and Bright Birds. All are designed and handmade by Katherine Lainton of Genie Lampshades in the English Cotswolds. They come in several sizes and are suitable for ceiling pendant light fittings or lamp bases.
8. What’s in your tortilla? How about pens and pencils? Check out this fun tortilla pencil case! This tasty beauty holds 12 writing implements and rolls up for convenient storage in your bag or backpack. Nice way to keep things organized. About 10.6″ in diameter. Now, that’s a wrap!
9. Finally, I’m addicted to the wonderful “Life Where I’m From” videos. They feature 9-year-old Aiko and her family, who are originally from Canada but are currently living in Japan. Aiko’s father has produced a number of videos to show kids around the world what everyday life is like for them. There are videos about preparing dinner, doing the laundry, showing their apartment, and eating at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, among others. Aiko is adorable and has an endearing screen presence. Her mom is Japanese and her dad is Canadian. Fascinating and educational for all ages, pleasant to watch, easy to get hooked. Here’s the Sushi Restaurant video, which made me wish we had these in the U.S.:
1. It’s always nice to see new prints in Katie Daisy’s Wheatfield Shop — bright colors are just what we need to get us in the mood for Spring. Of course I have a weakness for hand lettered alphabets and I couldn’t resist the reminder to “Be Kind to Others.” These inkjet prints of her original watercolor and acrylic paintings come in three sizes. Lots more to choose from!
This time, a family who’s just moved into a new house needs to do some fix-ups, so they visit the hardware store to get some tools and supplies:
When the new house needs fixing up, it’s off to the hardware store to find the tools and materials needed to get the job done―a hammer, a screwdriver, a shiny tape measure, and even a stepladder.
This family outing explores a familiar errand that fascinates plenty of young children: the hardware store. Anne Rockwell’s perfectly pitched story and Melissa Iwai’s child-friendly illustrations make this book ideal for the preschool audience.
Anne Rockwell is a household name to picture book lovers; it’s such a treat whenever she publishes a new book. And of course Melissa Iwai won me over big time when she published Soup Day (Henry Holt, 2010). 🙂 Love her cheery palette and engaging details (such a fun way to introduce kids to some basic tools). Her pictures make me miss the small neighborhood mom and pop hardware stores. Everything’s a big superstore these days. Click here to read Melissa’s post about doing the illos for the book.
You know, it’s that dang British accent that gets ’em every time.
Add boyish charm, a dash of cheek, a thirst for adventure, comedy sketches, travel documentaries, entrepreneurial genes, video production chops, a boatload of high octane go-for-the-gusto, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the YouTube vlogging sensation Jacksgap.
It also doesn’t hurt that the 20-year-old Harries twins are very easy on the eyes. The camera loves them, as do millions of teenage girls all over the world who just can’t get enough of their rickshaw-running, ball-bouncing, mail-opening, Maoam-chewing, bungee-jumping, unicycling shenanigans.
Jacksgap! Five minutes of your life that you won’t get back!
Dial back to July 2011, when younger-by-two-minutes Jack decided to document his gap year by starting his own YouTube channel. He attracted a fair number of followers in the first 6 months, but it wasn’t until Finn joined the fun that things went viral.