summer blog break


“Garden Soup” by Jane Dyer (Limited Edition print available from R. Michelson Galleries)


It’s time to put our soup on the back burner while we step out of the kitchen for a summer blog break.

Whether you’re planning a vacation or staycation, have fun, stay safe, and eat lots of GOOD FOOD.:)

Mr Cornelius, the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers, the 50-something Paddingtons and I wish you a very Happy Summer!



via The Wheatfield

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

Winnie-the-Pooh and The Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess (+ Honey Chocolate Pie)

Mr Cornelius practicing the royal wave.

Hello Hello!

What’s the best way to honor two beloved British icons with 90th birthdays this year?

Feature them both in a beary good story, of course.:)

All art copyright © 2016 Mark Burgess.

Mr Cornelius is convinced 2016 is extra special and that 90 is a magic number. On January 13, much to the delight of the 50-something resident Paddingtons, Michael Bond turned 90. On April 21, HRH Queen Elizabeth turned 90 (with her official birthday celebration taking place just over a week ago), and this coming October marks the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh’s first book.

Goodness. This is like a golden trifecta for us anglophiles who are mad for Brits, books and bears! Just so happens that Her Majesty loved the Pooh books when she was little, and the year she was born, Mr. Milne dedicated his Teddy Bear and Other Songs (1926) to her.

What does this Palace Guard have stashed under his hat?

Earlier this year, Mr Bond was asked to write an address for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His “Reflection on the Passing of Years” was read aloud at the service by Sir David Attenborough (and yes, he turned 90, too, on May 8). This piece, a special gift for the Queen, described the experience of life for those born in 1926. Is there any better gift than the gift of words?

So we could say that in effect Paddington has “met” the Queen, but until this new story Pooh had not.


In Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday (Egmont, 2016) by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess, the bear of very little brain and his friends Christopher Robin, Eeyore, and Piglet journey to London to present the Queen with a special 90th birthday gift.

This delightful story, which emulates the literary and artistic styles of A. A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, was just released at the end of May as a free downloadable illustrated e-book and audio adventure narrated by Academy Award winning actor Jim Broadbent.

I don’t want to give away too much by telling you what the birthday present is, but suffice to say I loved how Pooh and friends took a train from the Hundred Acre Wood to London, where they boarded a double decker bus for a mini tour of famous landmarks (Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Harrods) before arriving at the Buckingham Palace grounds, where they did indeed meet the sovereign:

She was just as Queenly and smiley and wonderful as they had expected her to be.

I enjoyed the “typically British” feel of the quaint, gentle narrative with its charming moments (honey sandwiches, the forest of legs at Victoria Station, Pooh’s suggestion that the Palace Guards stored “something to nibble on” under their tall furry hats). Best of all was the appearance of a ‘certain bouncy little boy’ running behind the Queen who “patted Piglet fondly and tickled Winnie-the-Pooh’s ears.”

Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday has been enthusiastically embraced by Pooh fans, anglophiles, and royal watchers. The publisher hasn’t decided yet, but perhaps a print version of the story will also be available in the near future.

Just in case you haven’t heard the story, here’s the audio version. Nice to know that Jim Broadbent named his childhood teddy bear “Pooh”:


And a little Behind-the-Scenes video:



. . . his nose told him it was indeed honey, and his tongue came out and began to polish up his mouth, ready for it. ~ Winnie-the-Pooh

One can certainly work up a good appetite listening to stories and traveling to London.

To celebrate the Queen’s and Pooh’s 90th’s, the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers decided to make the Honey Chocolate Pie recipe from Virginia H. Ellison’s Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook (Dutton, 2010). This made perfect sense since “hunny” is Pooh’s favorite and the Queen loves chocolate.:) You may remember we made her favorite Chocolate Biscuit Cake when she stopped by to meet Mr Cornelius two years ago.

Royal Chef Darren McGrady has mentioned that the Queen also likes Chocolate Perfection Pie and that a Chocolate Birthday Cake (a family favorite dating back to Queen Victoria) is always on the afternoon tea menu to help her celebrate. We do love a Queen who likes horses, corgis, Pooh, Paddington and chocolate! She’s a Downton Abbey fan, too (she just made Penelope Wilton a “Dame”!).

The recipe note mentions that this pie is “very rich and sweet,” and advises making it when there are lots of friends around to help you eat it. The filling calls for a can of evaporated milk, semisweet chocolate, eggs, and both honey and sugar. I decided to cut the refined sugar to just 1/2 cup instead of a full cup and I was glad I did. Pooh was happy to sacrifice 1/2 cup of hunny from his personal stash for the Queen and Mr Cornelius always gets ecstatic whenever whipped cream is part of the plan.

With the honey chocolate pie we’re serving the Queen’s 90th Birthday Tea by Twinings (her brand of choice). This special commemorative blend uses the finest quality black teas from three Commonwealth countries: full-bodied tea from Assam, India; refreshing Kenyan tea and a rich, smooth Sri Lankan variety. Very nice, indeed!

Now, raise a celebratory cup and enjoy a slice of pie in honor of Her Majesty and Pooh (why not 90 sips of tea and 90 slices of pie?).:)


serves 8


  • 1- 9-inch deep-dish pie shell, unbaked
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter (2 ounces)
  • 1-12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream or canned whipped cream


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Buy a ready-made pie shell or make your own from any standard recipe or any of the piecrust mixes. Prepare your piecrust before starting the honey-chocolate mixture.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler.
  4. When melted, remove mixture from the heat and blend in the evaporated milk, stirring all the time.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, blend together the honey, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  6. Beat in the eggs.
  7. Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture slowly, beating all the time.
  8. Pour this filling into the waiting pie shell.
  9. Bake the pie uncovered for 40 minutes.
  10. Then cover it lightly with aluminum foil and bake it 20 minutes more until the top is puffed. Cracks sometimes show in the center.
  11. Cool for an hour and then refrigerate.
  12. Serve cold with whipped cream piled on it.
  13. Dribble a thick trickle of honey beads over the whipped cream.

~ Adapted from The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook by Virginia H. Ellison with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard (Dutton, 2010).



Just in time for Pooh’s 90th birthday, look for this new quartet of stories written in the style of A. A. Milne by Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders, Brian Sibley, and Paul Bright with illustrations after the style of E.H. Shepard by Mark Burgess. The Best Bear in All the World (Dutton BYR) will be released on October 25, 2016 and features new adventures for Pooh, Christopher Robin and all their friends in the Hundred Acre Wood — one story for each season.:)



The original hotTEA: Lilibet (age 3) having tea with her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (1929).

Tra-la-la, tra-la-la

Tra-la-la, tra-la-la




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



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

hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Wade Hudson

Wade Hudson is president of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent children’s publishing company he co-founded with his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson. Just Us Books is a leading publisher of books that represent our diversity, with a focus on Black history, culture and experiences. Wade has authored 30 books for children and young adults.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: My day starts with a hot cup of coffee, which I drink while reading the morning paper. When I was a little boy growing up in rural Louisiana, I was awakened each morning by the aroma of coffee brewing.  For me, it signaled a new day. I would watch my Dad sitting at the table, drinking his cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. I was too young to join him then, but I continue my father’s tradition now. A second cup normally follows my wake-me-up cup of coffee, and after a quick breakfast, I am ready for the new day.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Feelings I Love to Share by Wade Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Marimba Books (2015), and Book of Black Heroes from A to Z (revised edition) by Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley, published by Just Us Books, Inc. (2013).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Damian Ward, published by Marimba Books (2015).

I am a native of Louisiana. And I love the wide variety of cuisine found in the state. The northern part of the state is more known for its southern Soul, rural-influenced cuisine. The southern section, especially New Orleans, is characterized by the Mississippi River and other bodies of water, is famous for its Creole, Cajun, and seafood-centered cuisine. Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street spotlights the tradition of youngsters’ tap dancing in the French Quarter using bottle caps stamped and ground in the soles of their shoes instead of taps. This delightful book captures the flavor of the Crescent City and introduces some of the famous dishes and food it is known for such as jambalaya, beignet, po’boys and red beans and rice. Let’s eat y’all!


  • AFRO-BETS® Book of Shapes (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • AFRO-BETS® Book of Colors (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • I’m a Big Brother Now, by Katura J. Hudson, illustrated by Sylvia Walker (Marimba Books, a new picture book for Fall 2016)
  • Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present, by Gil L. Robertson (Just Us Books, a new book of biographies, Fall 2016)
  • Sights I Love to See (another book in the “I Love to” series published by Marimba Books, Spring 2017).

☕☕ Visit Wade Hudson’s Official Website and the Just Us Books website and Online Store. Keep up with current news on the Just Us Books Facebook Page.

☕☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Get in the groove with the AFRO-BETS ABC Song!



☕☕☕☕ AND ANOTHER SWEET SIP (in case you missed it):  Cheryl Willis Hudson’s hotTEA post! With TWO hotTEAs in the house, they must have to wear their flame proof suits all the time.:)

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

celebrating sir paul mccartney’s birthday with linda’s lemon drizzle cake

“Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.” ~ Paul McCartney

Why, hello. Thought we’d serve up some lemon drizzle cake in honor of Paul McCartney’s 74th birthday tomorrow. Please help yourself to a piece or two or three and a nice warm cuppa.:)

While you’re sip sip sipping and ever-so-politely wiping crumbs from the corners of your mouth, enjoy Paul’s “English Tea,” which I strongly suspect he wrote just for me. See if you agree:


Am I not a “nanny bakes fairy cakes” kind of person who tends to veer into twee at a moment’s notice? I think “English Tea” should become Alphabet Soup’s official song.:)

Miles and miles of English garden stretching past the willow tree . . . lines of holly, hocks and roses listen most attentively.

paulnewalbumIt’s hard to believe Paul is going to be 74; he hasn’t slowed down one bit. Right now he’s in the midst of his One on One Tour, and just a week ago he released “Pure McCartney,” a comprehensive retrospective collection of his solo, Wings and Fireman work available in 3 formats: 2CD, 4CD and 4LP. The 4CD version features an amazing 67 tracks, all handpicked by the man himself.

To help promote “Pure McCartney,” he’s done a series of six virtual reality mini-documentaries filmed in his home studio in England, where he discusses backstories and recording/production tidbits about some of his songs. These can be seen in 360-degree videos or in virtual reality on a mobile app for Android or iOS.

I love how he continues to be on the forefront of studio technology. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s always been pro-innovation (Sgt Pepper, anyone?) — the mark of a true creative, a musician through and through. When it comes to staying power and audience appeal in a rapidly changing and highly competitive industry, Paul takes the biscuit!

Here’s the 360-degree video for “Dance Tonight.” Be sure to click on the arrows in the upper left corner for a nice spin around the room.:)



Ultimate hotTEA!

Yes, Paul is still “the cute one.” Could it possibly be 52 years since I first saw him with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show?! Those were the days of collecting Beatles bubble gum cards and plastering my bedroom walls with pics cut out from 16 Magazine. More importantly, the Beatles marked the beginning of my longstanding love affair with England.

And when I touch you I feel happy inside/It’s such a feeling that my love I can’t hide, I can’t hide.


nom nom nom


So, about the lemon drizzle cake. It’s Linda McCartney’s recipe and is daughter Mary’s favorite (she included an adapted version of Linda’s recipe in her book, Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking (2013)):

Mum didn’t bake as much as I do, but one thing she liked to make (and eat) was a lemon drizzle cake. It’s quite tangy, with a real hit of lemon going through it; a lemon syrup is poured over the freshly baked loaf and seeps right down into it. I always love having a home-cooked cake in the house: You walk in the door and it’s just like perfume. Since I’m the only one in the kitchen when it comes out of the oven, I’ll end up cutting away thin slices of it to munch on. (I’ve tried to convince myself that if you don’t sit down to eat a slice, it doesn’t count as calories.) It always reminds me of my mother. I can’t have this cake without thinking of her.

paulcakeI can attest to the wonderful aroma of this cake, the luscious lemony tanginess of it, and the wholly satisfying experience of enjoying warm, thin slices out of hand. Who can wait for a fork and plate when something smells this good? I used to make a lemon quick bread recipe that also called for drizzling a glaze over the top, but this cake is so much lighter and I like it better. The texture of the crumb is so delicate. It’s absolutely perfect with a cup of tea, and of course listening to Paul’s music while eating it enhances the flavor tenfold, and gives you the chance to daydream yet again about the Beatles.

All your life/You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

I love imagining Linda baking this cake for her family and Paul scarfing down a slice. I remember how jealous I was when she married Paul, but gradually I realized she was truly the love of his life. After the Beatles broke up and Paul fell into a dark, hit-the-bottle depression, it was Linda who reassured him of his talent, who encouraged him to forge ahead, write more songs, and carve out a new path as a solo artist.

Together they raised their children to live as normal a life as possible, and to be, above all, people with good hearts. Linda was quite the foodie pioneer and animal activist as well, publishing good veggie cookbooks at a time when such resources were scarce. She also created Linda McCartney Foods, a chilled and frozen vegan and vegetarian brand so successful it made her independently wealthy.

Maybe I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song /Right me when I’m wrong /Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.


La la la la la la lovely Linda.

Linda’s original Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe can be found in Linda’s Kitchen: Simple and Inspiring Recipes for Meatless Meals (Bullfinch Press, 1995). Mary’s adaptation calls for adding powdered rather than granulated sugar to the lemon juice glaze, 1/4 instead of 1/3 cup milk, and 1-1/2 instead of 1-1/4 cups flour. Either way, total yum.


serves 6

  • flour for dusting the pan
  • 1 stick butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour (or light spelt flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a 9-inch nonstick loaf pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and superfine sugar together with a wooden spoon (or an electric mixer). Gradually beat in the eggs and mix until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest, flour, and baking powder, and mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and mix well again. Then beat in the milk.

3. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.

4. In the meantime, mix the remaining lemon juice and the confectioner’s sugar together in a small bowl to make the glaze.

5. When it’s ready, take the cake out of the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate. Pierce the top of the cake all over with a thin skewer. Spoon the lemon glaze carefully and evenly over the cake until all of it is absorbed. Ready to eat.

~ Adapted by Mary McCartney, from Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking (2013).

Jama’s Notes:

1. 45 minutes in the oven seemed like a long time to me, so I checked mine at 38 minutes and it was done. You might want to check yours no later than after 40 minutes to avoid over baking.

2. Mary’s recipe calls for superfine sugar; I used regular granulated sugar, as specified in Linda’s original recipe. You can make your own superfine sugar by processing 1 cup + 2 tsp. granulated sugar for 30 seconds. I might try that next time to see if I notice any difference.

3. Linda also suggests topping this teacake with a cream cheese frosting for special occasions. I don’t think it needs it.:)


While your Lemon Drizzle Cake is in the oven, click over and watch Paul’s BBC 4 Mastertapes interview. This was filmed last month at the Maida Vale studios in London and is really good stuff! He tells some great stories about the Beatles, Wings, and his time as a solo artist, and answers audience questions. Did you know he and Linda were once held up at knife point in Nigeria? What was it like collaborating with Kanye West and Michael Jackson? How did he and John finally make up?

One thing I love whenever I hear him speak is how he pronounces words ending in the letter “g.” It must be a Liverpool thing to pronounce that “g” so distinctly: sonG. Ringo does the same thing. Absolutely charming! And lovely to see him wearing a purple necktie in honor of Prince.


John Lennon’s home in Weybridge, Surrey.


Paul with Jane Asher.

He’s asked which of his own songs is his favorite. He concedes that “Yesterday” is special because it came to him in a dream. But from a songwriting standpoint, he likes “Here, There, and Everywhere.” It’s really quite the perfect love song, written poolside at John Lennon’s Surrey home early one morning while he was waiting for John to wake up. It was inspired in part by Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” at a time when he was enamored of Jane Asher (I was jealous of her too!). Both John Lennon and George Martin also counted HT&E as one of their favorite Beatles songs. It was included on the Revolver album (1966) but was never performed live by the Beatles, who had by then stopped touring to concentrate on making studio albums.

Paul did perform it on MTV’s Unplugged in 1991:



Rolling in the dough.


Nothing better than a man who cooks!


Paul grilling Linda’s veggie burgers and sausages (via

With Sir Paul it’s always been about the music. We wish him a very Happy 74th Birthday and many, many more. Play on!


And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make . . .


♥ Other Paul McCartney posts at Alphabet Soup:



poetry fridayCarol is hosting the Roundup this week at Carol’s Corner. Take her a piece of lemon drizzle cake and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Don’t forget to celebrate Paul’s birthday tomorrow by listening to his music.

Do you have a favorite Beatles/Wings/McCartney song?



wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts.



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

hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Cheryl Willis Hudson

Cheryl Willis Hudson is the editorial director of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent children’s press co-founded with her husband Wade Hudson. Just Us Books focuses on the Black experience for children. Cheryl also oversees editorial operations at Marimba Books, a sister-multicultural publishing imprint owned with her husband and two children, Katura and Stephan. Cheryl is the author of over two dozen books for young people.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: For mornings my fav is Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee with a splash of Amaretto cream…yum, yum, yum! You can’t beat this drink for kick-starting the day. After 3 pm I love Red Zinger or Camomile tea, sipped hot with honey from my Grandmother Viola’s fancy teacup. This reminds me of both my grandmothers who introduced me to the idea of having “high tea” in the afternoon.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Songs I Love to Sing by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman (Marimba Books, 2015); Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by John-Francis Bourke (Candlewick, 2013), and My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010).


  • AFRO-BETS Book of Shapes (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • AFRO-BETS Book of Colors (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • I’m a Big Brother Now by Katura J. Hudson, illustrated by Sylvia Walker (Marimba Books, a new picture book for Fall 2016)
  • Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present by Gil L. Robertson (Just Us Books, a new book of biographies for Fall 2016)
  • Sights I Love to See by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman (Marimba Books, Spring 2017)

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later) by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, illustrated by James Ransome (HMH, 1995). I love the focus on family memories that are demonstrated so lovingly in this picture book. I grew up in the Tidewater region of Virginia where crabbing is a popular summer pastime and eating crabs (by the bushel) is part of an annual family reunion tradition. My grandmother Viola Brown made her own beautiful Sunday hats and also cooked wonderful crabcakes. Although they are never as delicious as my grandmother’s, I can’t resist ordering crabcakes whenever they appear on a restaurant menu. Aunt Flossie’s Hats always reminds me of my own happy childhood.

☕ Visit Cheryl Willis Hudson’s Official Website.

☕ Check out the Just Us Books Website to see all the wonderful books available from this publisher.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Don’t miss Cheryl’s must-read guest post at The Brown Bookshelf (part of their 28 Days Later showcase for 2016). She discusses her passion for children’s books, her personal publishing journey, as well as how and why she and her husband Wade established Just Us Books in 1988.

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

9 cool things on a tuesday (+ penny and jelly giveaway winner!)

coolmonocle cat

1. A monocle, a top hat, a mustache? Definitely the cat’s meow! Am loving Vickie Liu’s adorable donuts and cookies. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Vickie calls herself an amateur baker and professional eater. She started baking in high school and studied architecture and interior design in college.





It was only after getting her degree that she was finally able to devote more time to indulging her passion for decorating sweets. She’s developed quite a following on Instagram and her future plans include launching a lifestyle blog and running a home bakery. Her creations fall into the category of “too cute to eat,” but I think I could be convinced. Yum.


2. Heads up, unpublished children’s book authors of color: check out the Roll of Thunder Publishing Contest sponsored by Penguin Random House in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.™


“In 1974, the Council on Interracial Books sponsored a writing contest seeking out diverse voices. Mildred D. Taylor was the winner of the African-American segment for the manuscript that became Song of the Trees (Dial, 1975), her first book. It introduced the Logan family and was followed by Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), which won the Newbery Medal.

Forty years later, in partnership with We Need Diverse Books™, Penguin Young Readers celebrates this momentous publication by launching a debut children’s fiction contest to find talented, ethnically diverse authors writing for readers ages 8-14.

Submit your manuscript for a book about diversity for ages 8-14 and you could receive a publishing contract from Penguin Random House LLC!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:01:01 AM Eastern Time on April 26, 2016 and 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time on June 21, 2016. Open to people of color (or those who self-identify as other than white) who are residents of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories and possessions, aged 18 and older.

PRIZE: The confirmed winner will receive a book publishing contract for the publication of a novel for ages 8-14 by Penguin Random House LLC, with an advance of $35,000, plus royalties as follows: (i) on hardcover, 10% up to 50,000 copies and 12.5% thereafter; (ii) on paperback, 6% up to 50,000 copies and 7% thereafter; (iii) on audio, 8% of net; (iv) ebook, 25% of net; (v) world rights/all subrights at a 50/50 split; and (vi) an option on their next children’s or YA novel.

Judging will begin on or about June 28, 2016, and one winner will be chosen from the final group of ten (10) submissions narrowed down from all entries received. Entries will be judged based on (i) overall storytelling; (ii) creativity; (iii) originality; and (iv) writing ability, with equal weight given to each criterion.”

Click here for more info!


3. New book alert: Exciting news for Jeannine Atkins fans!! Her new historical verse novel, Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science (Atheneum, 2016) , will be officially released on September 20, 2016 and is now available for pre-order.


A gorgeously written novel in verse about three girls in three different time periods who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists.

 Maria Merian was sure that caterpillars were not wicked things born from mud, as most people of her time believed. Through careful observation she discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented her findings in gorgeous paintings of the life cycles of insects.

More than a century later, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone sea creatures from the cliffs in southwest England. To him they were merely a source of income, but to Mary they held a stronger fascination. Intrepid and patient, she eventually discovered fossils that would change people’s vision of the past.

Across the ocean, Maria Mitchell helped her mapmaker father in the whaling village of Nantucket. At night they explored the starry sky through his telescope. Maria longed to discover a new comet—and after years of studying the night sky, she finally did.

Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates the joy of discovery and finding wonder in the world around us.

I’m a huge Jeannine fan in general and loved Borrowed Names to pieces, so I’m really excited to read Finding Wonders. Her books are meticulously researched and she is brilliant at excavating and fashioning telling detail to masterful effect, giving the reader an intimate, uniquely nuanced view of her subject(s). She has such a beautiful way of crafting words, whether poetry or prose. Don’t miss this one!


4. Need a little grammatical brush-up every now and then? Check out this clever grammar pencil set by Newton and the Apple. Makes a fun gift for English teachers, students, writers, or anyone who likes to let others know they’re (there?) on top of their (they’re?) game.:)

grammar pencils


5. Oh, something new from Boston-area artist/illustrator Kendyll Hillegas! She recently added a Breakfast & Brunch print to her Etsy Shop. These unframed 11×14 archival prints are a limited edition of just 25 pieces, and come signed and dated. Wouldn’t it look beautiful in your kitchen?


This one’s new, too — not a foodie illustration, but who can resist a Baby Hedgehog!?! Adorable!



6. Feet, feet, it’s all about the feet. The perfect antidote to boring sock drawer syndrome: sushi socks! When folded, these unisex socks resemble your favorite pieces — futomaki, tuna, California roll, salmon roe. No worries about fading, as the designs are sewn in. Think how much fun you’ll have on laundry day, folding these beauties back into sushi form. Hardest part is to resist the urge to eat your socks (do they smell good?).:) I bow to you, Sushi Sock Chef!



7. While I like to eat my veggies, there are times when I wish I knew how to play them, just like the talented musicians cited in this recent NPR article, “Vegetable Orchestra Musicians Literally Play with Their Food.” Hollow out a butternut squash, reach for some bok choy or a tuber of your choice, and blow, baby, blow. When your instrument starts to look a little tired, just eat it.:)

While I like Linsey Pollak’s hypnotic carrot clarinet solo, the avant garde stylings of the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra, and Junji Koyama’s festive Christmas carol à la broccoli, I’m quite fascinated with the Chinese Nan brothers. They grew up on a vegetable farm and their father was a music teacher, so it’s perfectly logical that they would learn to play the produce.:) Interesting how different vegetables have different scales and are suited to different melodies, and that factors such as humidity and air temperature can affect pitch. It’s all a good reminder to listen to at least 4-5 servings of vegetables every day. (Click through to the article for more videos.)


8. We’ve all done it at some point — misheard a song lyric. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense; we hear it one way and it becomes part of our DNA. Sometimes we can’t quite make something out, so we plug in our own words just to keep singing along. Case in point: Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” I got the part about “your hat strategically dipped below one eye, your scarf it was apricot.” But for years and years, I thought the next part was, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself a lot.”

Okay, okay. It’s supposed to be “you watched yourself gavotte.” I need to clean my ears. But “gavotte” never occurred to me. If it had been the minuet or the funky chicken I might have gotten it. But gavotte? Too high brow for me.😀


Anyway, misheard or mistaken lyrics are often funnier than the originals, so why not put them on stainless steel tumblers to cheer us up? Thanks to the folks at Meriwether of Montana, we can drink away those mistaken lyrics and have a helluva good time doing it.




Check out the full line of Mistaken Lyrics Steel Glasses here. Ooh, they also have an enamelware teapot!



9. And now, chocolate. When it comes to food, the French take everything to the next level. My Paris Kitchen author David Lebovitz has posted several videos documenting his visits to high end artisan chocolate shops in Paris. Here, he speaks to master chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux, giving us a little behind-the-scenes peek. Everything is made on site in the workshop below the shop. That place must smell so good! Pass me one of those hazelnut bars.


🎉 PENNY & JELLY: Slumber Under the Stars GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎉

Thanks to all who commented on Maria Gianferrari’s hotTEAs of Children’s Literature post.

We are happy to announce that the winner of a brand new, signed copy is

*drum roll, please*




♥♥♥ JULIANA LEE!! ♥♥♥

Congratulations, Juliana! Please provide your snail mail address so we can send the book out to you right away.

**Everyone, check out the Penny & Jelly Blog Tour for more chances to win free copies at every stop!! There’s still time to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for 3 copies at Pragmatic Mom, and on Friday, June 17, there’s another 3-copy giveaway at Writing For Kids (While Raising Them).


Did I mention you’re a cool thing, too?:):):)

Thanks for stopping by. Have a terrific week, cutie pies!

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