[tasty review + brownie recipe] Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng

https://jamarattigan.com/2016/05/24/tasty-review-brownie-recipe-happy-birthday-alice-babette-by-monica-kulling-and-qin-leng/

http://jamarattigan.com/?p=19018

I’ve often wished I could travel back in time to visit Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at their famous 1920’s Paris salon.

Imagine making small talk with the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thornton Wilder on a leisurely Saturday evening while gazing at an amazing collection of modernist art adorning the walls at 27 rue de Fleurus! Would Alice serve her special mushroom sandwiches, a giant squab in pyjamas, or maybe wild rice salad?

I know what you’re thinking: brownies! Well, perhaps.:)

It was such a treat to read the recently published picture book Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng (Groundwood Books, 2016). Charming and winsome are the first two words that come to mind, along with sheer delight. This fictionalized story based on the lives of these two expat luminaries focuses on their singular relationship — complementary personalities who carved out a unique existence that brought out the best in each other.

It’s Alice’s birthday and she wakes up sensing it will be a day full of surprises. She’s right of course, her first surprise being that Gertrude seems to have forgotten. Strangely, no birthday greetings at the breakfast table, but Alice is determined to enjoy her day nevertheless by walking around Paris.

Tea and croissants for breakfast!

Little does she know Gertrude has something up her sleeve. Even though she’s by no means a cook (instead spending her days and nights writing and/or thinking about writing), today she will cook a special dinner and write a celebratory poem for her dear friend. Gertrude is supremely confident. How hard could it be, right? As soon as Alice is out the door, Gertrude decides on the menu, consisting of Alice’s favorites:

Stewed beef, creamed potatoes, steamed carrots and stuffed celery. And for dessert, Basket, there will be pineapple upside-down cake!

Basket the poodle accompanies Gertrude to the outdoor market. As is typical of writers, Gertrude is a little preoccupied, thinking about her poem the whole time she’s shopping for ingredients. She sees some beautiful roses and decides to bring some home.

Meanwhile, it’s a gorgeous sunny day and Alice is having the best time riding the carousel in Luxembourg Gardens and watching a puppet show. She even has a surprise adventure foiling a jewelry robbery just as she’s leaving.

Back at home, Gertrude is busy cooking. After a neighbor shows her how to work the stove, she tosses things into pots, but just as she pops the cake into the oven, she thinks of the perfect line for her poem. She rushes to her study to write it down and soon becomes engrossed in writing, forgetting all about the food until she smells smoke. Quelle catastrophe!

Everything is burnt and ruined. And the kitchen is a mess!

Soon, cheery Alice walks in, bubbling over about her “day of marvels.” She’s not angry in the least about the messy kitchen (what a saint!) and quickly cleans up while Gertrude writes a story about her culinary fiasco. Once everything is tidy again, Alice bakes brownies. And then the best surprise of all — the doorbell rings and friends arrive with food and gifts! Gertrude reads her poem aloud and everyone has a grand time chatting and feasting on Alice’s brownies, which are, of course, the best.

A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

Kids will easily relate to the scenario of having best intentions fall by the wayside when a compelling distraction presents itself. I think they will be impressed by the genuine love and regard Alice and Gertrude have for one another. We learn early on about the role each plays to maintain their harmonious domestic life: Gertrude writes while Alice cooks, cleans, types and shops. Significantly, Alice encourages Gertrude “because no one else seemed to understand or appreciate her friend’s work.”

It’s good to read about an unconventional relationship marked by unfaltering devotion and to be reminded of Alice’s importance as an enabler. Gertrude thrived as a writer not only because of Alice’s friendship, but as her muse, secretary, critic, editor and day-to-day organizer, Alice provided invaluable guidance and behind-the-scenes support that made it possible for Gertrude to focus on her writing.

Qin Leng’s whimsical, buoyant art beautifully captures Gertrude’s and Alice’s personalities, joie de vivre, and the warmth of their relationship with graceful lines, interesting details, and a pleasing pastel palette with red accents (a pot, rug, awning, roses, Alice’s purse). I love the depictions of the Parisian outdoor markets as well as the interiors of the Stein-Toklas home and salon.

Naturally I am especially fond of the kitchen with its tiled checkered floor, green vintage stove, free-standing porcelain sink and old fashioned cookware and utensils. We see how each of the main characters thrives in her respective milieu: bookish Gertrude at her desk, domestically-inclined Alice at her sink. Each was free and content to simply be themselves, and from this story we can admire Gertrude’s willingness to tackle cooking when it really wasn’t her thing, and Alice assuming responsibility for her own happiness, as she enjoys her birthday just as she pleases.

In case you’re wondering, Gertrude and Alice aren’t described in the narrative as “life partners,” and we certainly don’t need to know that in order to appreciate this particular story. Still, some older readers may view them as a gay couple upon seeing Gertrude’s short mannish hair style as well as the back cover illustration of Gertrude and Alice dancing in each other’s arms. The Author’s Note does mention that “they lived together for almost forty years.”

I think this presents a good opportunity for further discussion, especially as we strive for more diversity and inclusion in children’s books. Here were two human beings who were clearly mad about each other and openly lived like a happily married couple for decades, something that should be celebrated and could be explained in an age appropriate manner.

Don’t miss Happy Birthday, Alice Babette — a satisfying, feel-good story with an airy and elegant retro vibe that’ll make you want to learn more about Gertrude and Alice and visit Paris. Now, about those brownies . . .

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A brownie is a brownie is a brownie is a brownie, or is it?

Though many of us automatically think of pot brownies whenever Alice B. Toklas’s name is mentioned, she in fact did not include what we would consider a “brownie” recipe in her famous eponymous cookbook first published in 1954. She did include a recipe for “Haschich Fudge,” contributed by Gertrude’s writer/artist friend Brion Gyson — a fruit, nut, spice, cannabis treat that does not contain a whit of chocolate, but instead seems to resemble the Moroccan psychoactive confection Majoun.

Pot brownies became all the rage because of Peter Sellers’s 1968 movie “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas,” in which hippie character Nancy supposedly uses a recipe from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (she actually adds marijuana to a batch of boxed brownie mix).

I mention all this because in her Author’s Note, Ms. Kulling states that Alice’s “famous brownie recipe” appears in the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. I find this misleading because after reading this story, a young reader (or even an adult not wholly familiar with the cookbook or the movie), might wish to get the cookbook and try the recipe, only to discover it’s not a conventional brownie recipe after all (does your local grocer carry cannabis?). And if you want to split hairs, the Hashish Fudge technically wasn’t Alice’s recipe to begin with.

Picasso and Hemingway give these brownies two thumbs up!

But enough of being the brownie police. We in the Alphabet Soup kitchen simply had to whip up a batch of fudge brownies (no cannabis sativa for us, we get high on reading).:) My old standby brownie recipe is more cake-y, and this time I felt like something a little denser and fudgier. If you’ve ever browsed Pinterest for brownie recipes, then you know many of them claim to be “THE BEST.” Such superlatives are understandable because chocolate is involved, but it doesn’t make deciding any easier.

I opted for Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies at the King Arthur Flour website. “Easy” is a pre-requisite for fossilized mature bakers like me, who don’t always feel like melting bars of chocolate or mixing wet and dry ingredients separately. This baby is a one bowl recipe — just add the ingredients in order, stir, then beat to thoroughly combine.

The website also has a more decadent Fudge Brownie recipe that calls for both cocoa and chocolate chips in addition to more than 2 cups of sugar (diabetes, here I come). So I stuck with the Quick and Easy (even cut the sugar by 1/2 cup) and got a good brownie fix anyway. I baked mine in a 9″ x 9″ pan instead of the 9″ x 13″ pan specified to get a thicker brownie.

Alice would be happy to know I didn’t get distracted at all (even when Colin Firth did the tango with a long-stemmed rose between his teeth) and I cleaned up the kitchen myself.

QUICK AND EASY FUDGE BROWNIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup natural or Dutch process cocoa
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (8 T) butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • *Increase the salt to 1/2 teaspoon if you use unsalted butter

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil or parchment paper and grease lightly.

2. Put all ingredients into a large bowl in the order given. Stir, then beat the mixture until smooth.

3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the brownies are just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan.

5. Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool completely before cutting. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped for 5 to 6 days (if they last that long). Can also be frozen.

~ Adapted from Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies by King Arthur Flour

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ONE MORE BITE

You know I love a good backstory, and Alice doesn’t disappoint.

Apparently she didn’t realize cannabis sativa was a key ingredient in the Hashish Fudge recipe when she submitted the cookbook manuscript to her publisher. She was pressed for time and needing to fill space when she asked friends to contribute recipes, so didn’t actually test any of them.

The recipe was innocently included without my realizing that the hashish was the accented part of the recipe. I was shocked to find that America wouldn’t accept it because it was too dangerous.

It never went into the American edition. The English are braver. We’re not courageous about that sort of thing.

The recipe is fun to read — was Alice really clueless about it, or was it a great publicity stunt?

HASCHICH FUDGE
(which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)

This is the food of Paradise — of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement reveillé‘.

Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus sativa can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.

Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognised, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.

I had to smile at the mention of “stoned dates.”:)

BTW, the Hashish Fudge recipe was included in subsequent American editions, giving rise to its many references in 60’s pop culture, forever cementing the link between Alice and marijuana brownies.

Listen to Alice read the recipe in this 1963 recording provided by Pacifica Radio:

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALICE BABETTE
written by Monica Kulling
illustrated by Qin Leng
published by Groundwood Books, April 12, 2016
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.

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“It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” ~ Gertrude Stein

“This has been a most wonderful evening. Gertrude has said things tonight that will take her 10 years to understand.” ~ Alice B. Toklas


*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2016 Monica Kulling, illustrations © 2016 Qin Leng, published by Groundwood Books. All rights reserved.

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


[wet and salty review] ringo starr’s octopus’s garden with art by ben cort

http://jamarattigan.com/2016/05/20/wet-and-salty-review-ringo-starrs-octopuss-garden-with-art-by-ben-cort/

http://jamarattigan.com/?p=18985

A year ago today, a special online friend whom I met at my old LiveJournal blog passed away. Though Slatts and I never met in person, we bonded over our mutual love for the Beatles and Bob Dylan. For eight years, we chatted about lyrics, album covers, adolescent memories, and biographical tidbits. As an artist and musician himself, Slatts was the logical go-to guy for backstories and questions, and I greatly admired the many caricatures and portraits he created of my rock idols.

Since Ringo was Slatts’s favorite Beatle, it seemed like a good time to feature this Octopus’s Garden picture book published in 2014. It contains Ben Cort’s vibrant jewel-toned illustrations inspired by Ringo’s original lyrics, and comes with a CD of Ringo reading the story aloud + vocal and instrumental versions of the song.

So, what inspired Ringo to write “Octopus’s Garden”? Seems that things were falling apart while the Beatles were recording the White Album back in 1968, so Ringo walked out to escape mounting animosities and to find some peace. He took a much needed break from studio sessions with his family aboard Peter Sellers’s yacht in Sardinia.

One day, he supposedly ordered fish and chips for lunch and was served octopus instead. He refused to eat the octopus (can you blame him?), and the Captain began to tell him all about octopuses, how they trawl the sea bed for shiny objects and stones to place in front of their caves, sort of like making a garden there. Ringo said, “I thought this was fabulous because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. I wanted to get out of it for awhile.”

I’d like to be under the sea/In an octopus’s garden in the shade.

The book opens with a spread of a young boy gazing at his pet goldfish, a vaporous blue cloud populated with colorful sea creatures rising from the top of the bowl. This fantastical stream leads him to the bottom of the ocean, where the boy is greeted by a friendly octopus. He’s joined by four friends and they happily swim along and ride sea turtles until they reach the entrance to the octopus’s cave.

As the song states, they have a joyous time, singing and dancing around, and swimming amongst the coral, feeling happy and safe in their magical hideaway beneath the waves. Cort embellishes this singular adventure with pictures of even more fun: the kids playing pirates by the ruins of a lost city, discovering a sunken treasure chest full of gold jewels, swimming with a giant whale, playing with crabs, riding piggyback atop a giant snail, and listening intently as the octopus reads them a story.

He’s captured the spirit of Ringo’s song, which not only touts the primacy of the imagination, but the human need to occasionally find solace in one’s own fantasies. What child doesn’t sometimes wish to visit a place where there’s no one there “to tell us what to do”? The exhilarating, carefree feeling of playing and exploring with friends to your heart’s content aligns perfectly with Ringo’s steadfast credo of Peace and Love.

“Octopus’s Garden” was Ringo’s second composition, and the last Beatles release featuring him on lead vocals. He was given full songwriting credit for it on the Abbey Road album (George Harrison helped with melodic structure). I’ve always seen Ringo as lovable, endearing and comical, as evidenced by his amiable vocals not only on “Octopus’s Garden,” but also on “Act Naturally,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “Yellow Submarine,” and “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

The rare instances where Ringo sang lead were for upbeat tunes, jaunty melodies easily adaptable as children’s songs. Indeed, children find his voice appealing and reassuring, further evidenced by his role as Mr Conductor and Storyteller in the Thomas and Friends TV series. All this from a sickly only child, who had a rough beginning, being twice confined in hospital for long periods of time for tuberculosis and appendectomy-induced peritonitis, and having his parents divorce when he was only about four.

It’s wonderful that a new generation will get to know Ringo’s song through this book. They will have a ball hearing him read aloud, singing the song themselves, identifying and counting all the interesting sea creatures (crabs, fish, seahorses, starfish, clams), and submerging themselves in Cort’s delightfully conceived underwater world.

I daresay “Octopus’s Garden” seems to have cosmic significance, having been written when Ringo was 28, during August, the 8th month, in the year 1968, with Ringo’s final vocals recorded the following year on July 18. Octo-coolness.:)

This book also makes a nice keepsake for longtime Beatles fans like me, who’ll enjoy reminiscing about their favorite Ringo moments. I especially love the “This Boy” sequence in “A Hard Day’s Night,” when Ringo, coincidentally, feels the need to go off by himself to go “parading.” And who can forget when Ringo is kidnapped in the movie “Help!”, and George opens the car trunk to find Ringo under an orange blanket, just his head showing, and he simply says, “Hello” in the most adorable way? So huggable and endearing. And of course I’ll always remember playing “Abbey Road” over and over on my stereo full blast from my dorm room in college. ”Octopus’s Garden” gave everyone a good excuse to sing along, go prancing around, and forget their troubles.

But before I get carried away even more, enjoy the book’s official trailer, a video featuring Ringo discussing the book, and a live performance of “Octopus’s Garden” by Ringo and the Roundheads.

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OCTOPUS’S GARDEN
written by Ringo Starr
illustrated by Ben Cort
published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, February 2014
Picture Book/CD set for all ages, 32 pp.

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poetry fridayMargaret Simon is hosting the Roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Swim over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week.

Happy Weekend, and here’s to you, Slatts!

“The Beatles were just four guys who loved each other. That’s all they’ll ever be.” ~ Ringo Starr

 


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


hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: April Chu

http://jamarattigan.com/2016/05/19/hotteas-of-childrens-literature-april-chu/

http://jamarattigan.com/?p=18686

April Chu began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. She has since collaborated with authors to create picture books which have received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly along with rave reviews in The New York Times. April currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: I can’t start my day without a cup of fresh brewed coffee mixed with a big splash of half and half. With a 7 month old, a full night’s rest is rare and I need my jolt of caffeine in the morning to get myself going. I buy my coffee beans from Peerless Coffee Company. Their roasting facility is located just down the street from my house, which is both convenient and aromatic.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: In a Village by the Sea written by Muon Van (Creston Books, May 2015), Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine written by Laurie Wallmark (Creston Books, October 2015). Forthcoming books: Kate Warne, America’s First Woman Detective, written by Marissa Moss (Creston Books, Spring 2017), Down by the River written by Andy Weiner (Abrams, Spring 2018).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOKS: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, which is my daughter’s favorite as well, and Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola because who wouldn’t want a magic pasta pot? As a kid, I remember being slightly jealous of Big Anthony because he got to eat all those noodles!

☕ Visit April Chu’s Official Website.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out these gorgeous illustrations from In a Village by the Sea (click to enlarge).

☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Check out this recent interview, “On Illustration, Art, and Picture Book Success,” at Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s blog. BTW, In a Village By the Sea just won the Northern California Book Award!! Congrats to April and Muon Van!


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


9 cool things on a tuesday

http://jamarattigan.com/2016/05/17/9-cool-things-on-a-tuesday-3/

http://jamarattigan.com/?p=18933

coolpoldark

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.

poldark calendar2

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2.  Heads up Wizard of Oz fans! The first four books in Debbi Michiko Florence’s new 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 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.

dorothycollage1

dorothycollage2

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!

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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.

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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.

coolcookies4

coolcookies3

coolcookies

This looks like a fun, novel idea. You can also order pet look-alike custom cookies or choose from their all occasion Cookie Collections.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

cooltortilla

cooltortilla2

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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.:

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All for now, have a good week!


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


hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Lisa Schroeder

http://jamarattigan.com/2016/05/12/hotteas-of-childrens-literature-lisa-schroeder/

http://jamarattigan.com/?p=18679

Once upon a time Lisa Schroeder wanted to join Encyclopedia Brown on his fun adventures. Since that didn’t work out, she decided to be an author instead. Lisa has written over a dozen books for kids and teens including IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES and MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS. She’s a native Oregonian and lives with her family outside of Portland.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Tea, tea, glorious tea. Tea for you and tea for me! My favorite decaf is Teatulia’s Lemongrass tea. That’s often what I drink in the afternoons. In the mornings, I switch it up with various kinds. But no Earl Grey. Ewwww. I occasionally splurge on a soy chai latte, but never drink coffee because it gives me a headache.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: The Girl in the Tower, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli (Henry Holt, March 2016), Sealed with a Secret (Scholastic, May 10, 2016), and My Secret Guide to Paris (Scholastic paperback edition, March 2016).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman (J.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014).

☕ Visit Lisa Schroeder’s Official Website

☕ ☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out this cool trailer for The Girl in the Tower:

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☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Love this photo of Lisa at Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC, where she ate the most delicious scone of her entire life! A look of sheer bliss on her face. *sigh*

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☕ ☕ ☕ ☕ STILL THIRSTY: Check out Lisa’s Charmed Life Series!!

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