malin koort’s fascinating world of paper people


With Malin Koort’s paper people, for me it was love at first sight — the bright cheery colors, the freshness, the quirkiness!

Her charming characters just ooze with personality and make you want to get better acquainted.




After graduating from Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm), Malin began working on editorial illustrations and book covers, as well as furniture, poster, and stamp design. She also writes and illustrates her own stories, and loves to make tiny paper sculptures and build worlds out of paper. One of her recent personal projects was constructing Olympic games and stadiums in matchboxes.


Malin is based in Uppsala, Sweden.


In addition to odd characters, music, movies, food, and cookies:), she’s largely inspired by the books she read as a child. Favorite authors include Astrid Lindgen, Eva Bexell, Barbro Lindgren, Roald Dahl, Åke Holmberg and Lennart Hellsing.




Interestingly enough, she’s also inspired by things that are happy and sad at the same time (Sundays, aging, graduations, child stars). I think you can sense that element of pathos in her paper people even while they’re making you smile. Small people, big feelings.




One of Malin’s dream projects is to publish a children’s book. She’s obviously a natural storyteller and I hope that someday soon we’ll get to read one of her books here in the U.S.


















Learn more about Malin at her website and Instagram. She sells some of her designs at Society 6. 


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

Nibbling on Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s A Moose Boosh (+ a recipe!)


“Poetry is food for the soul, food is poetry for the tongue. So read a delicious poem that makes your soul feel young.” (ESL)


amuse-bouche: a small complimentary appetizer offered by the chef just before dinner.

a moose boosh: an appetizing little poem about food to be read aloud just before dinner or any time at all.

If you invite Brooklyn-based author/illustrator and creative director Eric-Shabazz Larkin to a party, chances are good he’ll bring a tasty, fresh-baked poem as a gift.

Keep your eye on him as he enters your kitchen, cause he’ll break out in some very cool dance moves. If dinner is part of your plan, Shabazz will gladly read his poem aloud — a literary amuse-bouche sure to whet the appetite and elicit instant happiness. What better way to set the table for a juicy meal to please and tease both tummy and tongue?

In A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food (Readers to Eaters, 2014), Shabazz celebrates growing, eating, cooking, and sharing food with 40 fun, zippy, zesty, sassy, spirited mostly rhyming verses served up with playful “vandalized” photos. Some, like “Slippery Noodles,” will have you beboppin’ to its joyous rhythm as it promotes some serious slurping:

Twirl them, whirl them,
slop them, slip them,
twist them, curl them,
whip them, flip them,
sip them, slurp them,
chew them, beat them.
But you must use a fork
when you eat them.

Slurp it up, mash it up
cut it up, clap it up,
look it up, pass it up,
turn it up, flap it up,
shake it up, make it up,
smell it up, love it up.
But do not use your hands
when you eat it up.

As with all of Shabazz’s poems, a good read aloud maximizes flavor. Can’t sit still. Don’t be surprised if your totally amused mouth thanks you for the invigorating workout.

What else? Well, who can resist a poem about runaway beans on the subway, Gramma’s magic Jamaican recipes, a mango thief, a $100 apple, or a girl named Ruby Loo who drooped when she pooped? Uh-huh.

Lest you think Shabazz is only about stuff and nonsense, consider some of his daily specials like “The Saddest Happiest Meal,” “Ashley Won’t Eat It If She Can’t Spell It,” and “Lab-Coat Corn,” where he takes on fast food, additives, and GMOs.

In “Do It For Dr. King,” he’s all about eating your greens, and there are poems about city kids dreaming of having a farm or wanting to grow clay pot veggies on a tiny apartment windowsill. I’m sure I would enjoy meeting “Doctor Food,” who “never prescribes medicine,” but “always prescribes a recipe.” I’ll have another serving of that Vitamin D-rich salmon fillet, if you please.:)

You’re probably wondering about graffiti-loving Shabazz, who obviously had too much fun doodling on his photographs. These scribblings and drawings very much represent the child’s perspective — an extra layer of imagination, irreverence, and humor superimposed upon an urban landscape.

Do you remember being taught not to draw on the walls of your bedroom or in the pages of a library book? Well, here the reader gets to engage in a little vicarious mischief-making by seeing someone who broke the rules and turned doodling into a good thing — a simple art form that can convey opinion and commentary in just a few strokes and squiggles. Use what you have in front of you — a Sharpie and some Wite-out. Mark it up, make something new. Above all, have fun. There’s power and ownership in that, and who doesn’t love a chewy, inventive visual feast?

Shabazz’s accessible, talk-on-the-street style effectively shows kids some of the delightful and surprising possibilities of poetry. It’s a good way to start a conversation about paying attention to what you eat, learning about where your food comes from, and appreciating the stories food likes to tell about history, culture and society.

Moreover, these poetic tidbits are a great way to inspire families to sit down to dinner together (“a family that eats together speaks together”). It’s a sad fact that these days many families do not have that critical end-of-the-day breaking of bread with loved ones. Bring dinnertime back! Bring back the clatter of plates and clinking of glasses, that happy taste, talk, tell — that sipping, slurping, sharing.

Though Shabazz recommends reading these poems just before dinner for best taste, they’re great for noshing anytime. Just make sure to keep your pet cabbage on a leash, and it wouldn’t hurt to practice balancing baguettes, crumpets and chapati on your head every day. To make sure you’ll come back for seconds, this spoken word of a meal literally ends with a bang (never underestimate the power of that last pea on the plate).:)

And now, a little Moose Boosh Sampler just for you. Special thanks to Shabazz for sharing a favorite recipe. Is it soup yet? You bet.



She wanted to try the soup,
but the soup was just too hot.
She blew and blew and whistled and huffed,
but she could not cool the pot.

She decided to sip it anyway.
She could not, would not wait!
But when she burned her tongue
it (sort of) set her straight.



My father is a painter,
but he doesn’t use a brush.
My plate is his canvas,
the colors are so lush.

Purple cabbage and red kimchi,
yellow curry and green kale.
The tastes are the brushstrokes
that tell their own tale.

There’s tart and nutty.
There’s bitter and spicy.
There’s savory and minty.
There’s sour and dicey.

My father is a painter,
but he doesn’t use a brush.
This meal is a masterpiece
I wouldn’t dare rush.



I lost my pet cabbage, but how is that?
I dressed it with a feather upon its hat.
It used to be round and purple and plump,
but then it got squishy and smelled like a dump.

I left it alone with my mom one day.
She said it ran off when she looked away.
But I don’t think that could be true
’cause that’s just not something my cabbage would do.



I’d sooner lick the cat
than eat more beets.
I’d sooner kiss the dog
than eat more beets.
I’d rake the lawn
and clean the gutters
for our whole street.
I’d sooner do anything
than eat more beets.





I think my favorite recipe at the moment is Kenyan Fried Collards Greens and Ugali.

This is a fun dish to make for a few reasons:

1. The name is deceiving – They are way less fried than most foods you’d ever eat.
2. They have a story and a wonderful person I can’t help but think of when I make them. In this case, my friend from Kenya taught me how to make this in his basement apartment in College. We ate it, the traditional style, with our hands.

I think food with a story is my favorite.

Here is how you make it:



  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped onion
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped cilantro
  • one bushel of finely chopped collards
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Remove the thick stems from collards before chopping.

Add just enough olive oil to cover most of pan and place on medium fire.

Add all the chopped stuff.

Stir in salt and pepper (and anything else fun).

Flip greens around till they are shrunken down, soft and delicious (around 10 minutes).

UGALI is cornmeal cake.

You boil water in a pot and slowly add cormeal until it becomes like a cake. Then you flip the pot over so that it slides out. On its own – it’s horrible but with some stewed beef and fried collards – it’s amazing.


A MOOSE BOOSH: A Few Choice Words About Food
written and illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin
published by Readers to Eaters, October 2014
Poetry for ages 10+, 96 pp.
*2015 ALA Notable Book*

CHECK IT: Shabazz will be reading from A Moose Boosh at the Food Book Fair on Sunday, May 1, 2016:

(click for more info)


poetry fridayBuffy Silverman is hosting the Roundup at Buffy’s Blog. Stroll over with your pet cabbage and check out the full menu of poetic goodies being shared in the blogosphere this week. Happy Weekend!




wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bibs and aprons and come join the fun!





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

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:


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


☕☕☕☕ 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:



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

celebs on sandwiches, because why not?


So, what are you having for lunch today?

To tempt your pop art palate, nibble on Jeff McCarthy’s Celebs on Sandwiches.

Aren’t we always hungry for celebrity anyway?


Miley Cyrus on a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese.


Barack Obama on a Tuna Melt.


Amy Schumer on a Turkey and Avocado.


Bernie Sanders on a Meatball Sub.


Wiz Khalifa on a BK Whopper.


Seth Rogen on Corned Beef.


Taylor Swift on a Fried Chicken Sandwich.


Notorious B.I.G. on a BLT with Avocado.


Jane Lynch on a Toasted Avocado.


George Takei on a Ham, Egg and Cheese Croissant.


Drew Barrymore on a Grilled Mac and Cheese.


Action Bronson on a Chicken Cheddar Biscuit.

Ellen on a Grilled Veggie Wrap.

Hugh Hefner on a Grilled Chicken Breast.


See more at the Celebs on Sandwiches Instagram.

Want a take-out order? Prints of these watercolors may be purchased via the Celebs on Sandwiches website.

Just in case you’re still a little peckish, here’s my fave:

Hosts of The Chew on a turkey and avocado sandwich.


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


hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: David Elliott

David Elliott is the NY Times bestselling author of many books for children, including the picture books, AND HERE’S TO YOU!, FINN THROWS A FIT, THIS ORQ(HE CAVE BOY) and the poetry series ON THE FARM, IN THE WILD, IN THE SEA, and ON THE WING. He is also the author of the middle grade novels, THE TRANSMOGRIFICATION OF ROSCOE WIZZLE, the EVANGELINE MUDD books, and JEREMY CABBAGE. David lives in NH with his wife and their Dandie Dinmont mix, Queequeg.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: My wife and I are dedicated francophiles: French toast, French fries, and of course, my beloved French Press. Oooo-la-la!

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: This Orq. (he say “Ugh!”), illustrated by Lori Nichols (Boyds Mills Press, 2015); Nobody’s Perfect, illustrated by Sam Zuppardi (Candlewick, 2015); On the Wing, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (Candlewick, 2014). Forthcoming: The Two Tims, illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo (Candlewick, May 2016); This Orq (he #1), illustrated by Lori Nichols (Boyds Mills Press, September 2016); In the Past, illustrated by Matthew Trueman (Candlewick, Spring 2017); and Bull (a YA novel-in-verse that is a retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur) published by HMH, April 2017.

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOKS: Well, I’ll always have a fondness for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs because my son, now 29, loved that book. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of course. And who doesn’t shiver when she is offered a piece of Turkish Delight?

☕ Visit David Elliott’s Official Website.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Enjoy a poem from David’s forthcoming poetry book, In the Past.


Tyrannosaurus Rex

Rest in Peace,
Old Meat-eater.
No list would
be complete
without you.
Tyrant! King!
You thought
(if you could think)
you’d live forever.
The great T. Rex
would never die!

But even kings
are vanquished
when stars fall
from the sky.

~Copyright © 2016 David Elliott. All rights reserved.


☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Enjoy this video featuring several poems from On the Wing:


☕☕☕☕ STILL THIRSTY: Here’s the trailer for This Orq. (he say “Ugh!”):


☕☕☕☕☕ ONE LAST SIP: Trailer for Nobody’s Perfect:



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.





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.

Laura skillfully brings these fifth graders to life using a variety of poetic forms (sonnet, limerick, haiku, concrete, free verse, ode, fib). Her portrayals ring true and the mix of personality types makes for an interesting classroom dynamic. It all feels very familiar — either we see parts of ourselves in these characters, or we have friends just like them.

Readers will nod knowingly at the queen bee with workers in her orbit, the introvert with writer chops, the natural leaders who run for student council, the tomboy and fashion plate, the spiky-haired non-conformist, the high energy, expansive piece-of-work with a ready sense of humor. We instantly get caught up in their lives and empathize with situations happy, sad, funny, frustrating, surprising, and empowering. It’s wonderful to see how these kids grow and change as they stage a sit-in, circulate a petition, and get their first taste of democracy in action. Each individual voice counts for something, but collectively they can do more.

Today I’m happy to share a poem by Rachel Chieko Stein (smart, quiet, tries hard to fit in but gets teased by the popular kids). One classmate tells her she can’t be Jewish, to which she replies, “But I’ve never even been to Japan.” Way to shatter a stereotype!:)

This just happens to be a Passover poem, and yes, it’s about food! Who wouldn’t love a poem with both chocolate and soup in it? Thank you, Laura!



Passover is my favorite holiday.
I love matzo for lunch, spread thick
with cream cheese and strawberry jam.
I love how the matzo crunches
around the soft cream cheese
and gooey jelly.

I promised my dad I would eat
at the allergy-free table during Passover
even though people eat bread there,
because the janitors
keep that table really clean.
But when I sit at the allergy-free table,
my friends think I am mad at them.

“Why aren’t you sitting with us?”
“Why do Jewish people eat weird food?”
“You have to eat that for a whole week?”
“Don’t you miss bread?”

I told my dad I wanted a thermos of soup
instead of a delicious matzo, cream cheese,
and jam sandwich for lunch.
He took out a recipe
covered with chocolate streaks.
“Aunt Jennie’s Matzo Candy.”
We buttered the matzos, baked them
until they were hot, spread them
with chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Melting, crispy, buttery, sweet. Mmmm.
Dad said, “I think this is the right medicine.
See the bottom of Aunt Jennie’s recipe?
To stop teasing, administer
one dose to classmates.”
I didn’t see anything written on the recipe.
But when I shared Aunt Jennie’s candy at lunch,
no one said matzo was weird.

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2016 Laura Shovan. All rights reserved.


Mmmmm! If you’re not craving some matzo candy right this minute there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Thank goodness Laura’s friend Jennie Steinhauser agreed to share her matzo candy recipe with us! I imagine one can tweak this according to preference, using dark, milk, or semi-sweet chips, maybe a little chopped nuts, candied ginger, or coconut flakes sprinkled on top? All good. As Rachel’s father said, it’s just the right medicine.

Jennie’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Matzo Candy

“Aunt” Jennie Steinhauser’s Matzo Candy (Serves 1)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. peanut butter chips
  • matzos

Preheat oven to 450. Melt butter, add sugar, and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Stir. Pour over matzos on foil-covered cookie sheets. Bake 5-7 minutes. Take out matzos and pour peanut butter chips over them. Let set 30 seconds and spread with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Repeat with chocolate chips. Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes or more, then break into pieces. Eat a whole bunch. Lie on the couch. Eat some more.



Here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen we decided to whip up a batch using butterscotch chips just like in Rachel’s poem. I used about 3-1/2 sheets of matzo to fit my nonstick-foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, but this amount of toffee could easily coat 5 sheets of matzo. I confess to increasing the chocolate chips to a full cup (8 oz.), which I layered over the melted butterscotch pieces. Also used brown sugar instead of white, and added chopped pecans. I think Rachel and I could become fast friends.:)

Wrap your lips around a piece in honor of Laura!!


When you’re done licking your fingers, please leave your links with Mr. Linky below. Don’t forget to put the title of the poem or book you’re sharing in parentheses after your name. Enjoy the poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere and do make some marvelous matzo to share with family and friends this weekend. For those who celebrate, have a beautiful Passover!




written by Laura Shovan
published by Wendy Lamb Books/RandomHouse, April 2016
Middle Grade Verse Novel for ages 8-12, 256 pp.
*Back matter includes Descriptions of Poetic Forms, Model Poems + Poetry Prompts

Click here for an Educator’s Guide prepared by Poetry Goddess Sylvia Vardell!

♥ Check out these wonderful reviews at A Year of ReadingThe Nerdy Book Club, and TeacherDance.

♥ Enjoy this cool Playlist for the book at Fragments of Life.

♥ Don’t miss this interview with Laura at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors.

♥ There’s a nice audio clip from the book here.




Today’s Special: Emerson Stew (seasoned with 18 herbs and spices and simmered for an entire year to folk music).




The Flaming Youth had a merry time frolicking with M. Random Integer Generator, wizard with numbers and owner of 3,412 codpieces (he’s quite the fashion plate). After consuming approximately 492 rose cakes and 66 gallons of ale, M. Generator had the winner’s name (painted on a 16th century banqueting dish resting atop Juliet’s balcony in Verona) teleported to the Alphabet Soup kitchen.

We are pleased to announce

that the winner of a brand new copy of WILL’S WORDS



*trumpet, cornett and sackbut fanfare*






Please send your snail mail address to receive your book.

A thousand thanks, one and all, for all your comments!



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

hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Tamera Will Wissinger

Tamera Wissinger is an author who writes stories and poetry for children. She grew up in Iowa and currently lives on a sleepy river bay in South Florida where she is consistently amazed by the unique wildlife. Sharing poetry and stories with children is one of the great joys of her life. (photo by Peter Wissinger)


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Coffee with a splash of whole milk is my current favorite hot beverage. I drink it with breakfast and my morning reading.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: There Was an Old Lady Who Gobbled a Skinkillustrated by Ana Bermejo (Sky Pony Press, February 2016), Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). Forthcoming: Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, early 2017).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Although Pippi lives alone and struggles with manners, she recognizes the importance of cooking and sharing good food. Oh I would love to sit down to pancakes or a picnic with Pippi, Annika, and Tommy!

☕ Visit Tamera Will Wissinger’s Official Website. You can also find her on Twitter: @TameraWissinger, and at her FB Author Page.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Hear an excerpt from Gone Fishing in this trailer:


☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Foodie poem by Tamera!


Hot Dogging

I ate a foot-long dog today for lunch –
the perfect size.
I added mustard, onion, relish,
side of curly fries.

I gobbled down my hot dog feast
enjoying every bit,
but when I tried to stand and leave
that hot dog had a fit.

Twelve hot dog inches knotted up and
caused my gut to quake.
It whimpered, growled and then it roared
to one big bellyache.

I’m feeling bitter and betrayed –
that dog had been polite.
At lunch it never barked or begged,
so why’d it have to bite?

~ Copyright © 2016 Tamera Will Wissinger. All rights reserved.


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