A Guest Post by Irene Luxbacher on Illustrating Malaika’s Costume

Only the brightest coloured scraps of paper and the most vibrant foliage would do when it came to illustrating Malaika’s Costume. A spirited girl like Malaika and the festive celebration she longed to dance in inspired intensely colourful backgrounds in my mind’s eye…

Irene Luxbacher Malaika's CostumeI began the illustrations for Malaika’s Costume by first sketching out the look and feel of the characters in the book. First Malaika and then her grandmother… My sketches are usually in pencil and ink and sometimes watercolour. I then started painting lots of different textured backgrounds with acrylic paints on canvas. But because Malaika’s story was so rich and vibrant, I decided to work in oils as well. The richness of thick, buttery oils seemed appropriate when rendering the lush foliage surrounding Malaika’s home and community, and I felt it would serve as inspiration for equally vivid carnival scenes.

Irene Luxbacher Malaika's CostumeWhen I settled on a colour scheme I was happy with, I scanned all my drawings and paintings into my computer and started playing around with different compositions. Incorporating the letter paper with Malaika’s doodles into the art was a happy accident that occurred during this part of the process. I think my favourite part of working on any illustration is allowing for the possibility of surprise. Just when I think I know how a page is going to look, I stumble on a different texture, pattern or swatch of colour that changes everything!

Irene Luxbacher Malaika's Costume

Just like Malaika, I suppose, creating a beautiful costume out of a collection of fabric pieces and her grandmother’s old costume, I felt proud as a peacock to lend my collection of drawings, paintings and collage materials to such a beautiful celebration. I’m so happy I was invited to this party and hope I did Malaika, her grandmother (and their wonderful creator, Nadia Hohn) proud!


Irene Luxbacher is an artist and author living in Toronto, Canada. With more than fifteen years’ experience as an illustrator, Irene has received numerous awards for her children’s instructional and picture books. Some of her awards include the 2003 National Parenting Publications Gold Award, the 2004 Disney Book Award and the 2007 Ontario Library Association Award. In 2009/10 Irene made the USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, both for her illustrations in Andrew Larsen’s The Imaginary Garden.

Miss Lou — Guest Post by Nadia L. Hohn

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.


My first introduction to Louise Bennett-Coverely, also known as Miss Lou, was in a library book called Mango Spice and its accompanying tape recording. These materials were filled with many Jamaican folk songs arranged or written by Miss Lou, as well as music from other Caribbean islands. My younger sister and I were children at the time and were so excited to finally find a book that reflected our culture and sounded the way we spoke at home. Using these materials, we memorized the songs as I fumbled their melodies on the piano. Hearing our efforts jogged the memories of our parents who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in the early 1970s. With nostalgia and smiles on their faces, they told us of Miss Lou and her radio show, which they listened to as children.

Nadia L. Hohn, author of Malaika's CostumeEnough cannot be written about Miss Lou’s contribution to Jamaican arts and culture. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on September 7, 1919, Louise Bennett-Coverley embodies warmth, creativity and humour. Her impact has been felt throughout the Caribbean diaspora and the world. Her poems at times play on language; others comment on race, class and colonization – like calypso songs with political lyrics – harkening the African oral tradition that Jamaicans inherited. She shared the mento folk songs, proverbs and stories of Jamaica in her books, onstage, and on her radio show and Ring Ding, her children’s television show. Miss Lou added pioneer in the Jamaican pantomime tradition, drama teacher, playwright and actress to her credit. She lived in the United Kingdom, United States and spent the last twenty years of her life in Canada, where she died in 2006.

When I was asked to write about Women’s History Month for this blog, I thought instantly of Miss Lou. Although I never met her, I would have loved to. Like her, I am a teacher, an author, a budding playwright, and I love to sing and have performed Caribbean folk songs dressed in traditional costumes. Miss Lou performed in Jamaican Creole at a time when speaking the language was discouraged. Thanks to her, it was embraced internationally and she created spaces for poets like Mutabaruka and Linton Kwesi Johnson, and singers like Bob Marley and Harry Belafonte to centralize and popularize Jamaican English, Creole and patois in their work. In Canada, poets like d’bi.young, Lillian Allen and Clifton Joseph perform in this tradition. My first picture book, Malaika’s Costume, is written in “patois lite”— what I call written English that conveys the rhythm and candor of Caribbean creole yet retains the traditional spellings and grammar of English words. We owe all this to Miss Lou’s legacy.

Nadia L. Hohn, author of Malaika's CostumePerhaps one of the things that has made Miss Lou even more special to me is something that she shares with millions of women. For many women in cultures around the world, womanhood is defined by motherhood. Louise Bennett-Coverley could not experience childbirth nor have a biological child due to lack of technology in the field of fertility science during her lifetime. As a young woman, Louise Bennett had a hysterectomy—the removal or partial removal of her uterus. Despite infertility, Louise Bennett did become a mother. Along with her husband, Eric Coverley, she adopted his son Fabian whom they raised, and took in children from her community. Miss Lou was an “other mother” — a term which refers to women, “aunties”, big sisters, family friends, older cousins, grandmothers, who have taken on roles to assist in the raising of children — who nurtured children regardless of biological relation, a common occurrence across the African diaspora on the continent, the Americas and in the Caribbean. It takes a village to raise a child, says an old African proverb. Miss Lou became the village. As she redefined family and womanhood, Miss Lou displayed generosity throughout her life, gracing us with a legacy of books, poetry and videos. Still today, Miss Lou inspires and nourishes growth through her words, arts and people, and has given us a love and appreciation for a language and culture as rich as that of Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Thank you, Miss Lou, for all of the many gifts you have given to this world and for being a phenomenal woman. In your words, may we all “walk good.”


Nadia L. Hohn is a writer, musician and educator. The manuscript of Malaika’s Costume, her first picture book, won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award. She is also the author of two forthcoming non-fiction titles, Music and Media Studies, part of the Sankofa series, which won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Multicultural Non-Fiction. She lives in Toronto, where she teaches French, music and the arts at an alternative elementary school.

International Puppy Day

Int'l Puppy Day

It’s officially the cutest day of the year! International Puppy Day is a day to celebrate the unconditional love and friendship of our furry friends, and to make sure they get the love and care they need. Everyone knows that puppies love to explore, but unbeknownst to many, they also love to read!

Noah, our puppy in-residence, recommends Buddy and Earl Go Exploring but definitely does not recommend The White Cat and the Monk (though we think he’s biased.)


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Buddy and Earl are safely tucked in for the night; Buddy on his blanket and Earl in his cage. But just as Buddy settles in for a nice, long sleep, Earl says it’s time to say “Bon voyage.”

Soon these mismatched pals are at it again, exploring the wilds of the kitchen and defending a lovely lady hedgehog — who may or may not be Mom’s hairbrush — from imminent danger. When they’ve finally vanquished the greatest monster of all — the vacuum cleaner — it’s time for some well-earned shut-eye.

This second book in the Buddy and Earl series reunites this odd and loveable animal couple: a dog who likes to play by the rules and a hedgehog who knows no limits.

Be sure to join them on their next adventure — Buddy and Earl and the Baby.

 

A Guest Post by Jael Ealey Richardson for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.


Ever since my first book came out in 2012, I have been speaking in schools about the process of writing it. At every school, without exception, a young black girl — or group of girls – comes up to talk me. Sometimes they ask a question. Sometimes they tell me how much they liked my talk. Most times they ask me to autograph a tattered notebook or a torn piece of paper.

I am always humbled by these moments. Because I remember exactly what it feels like to be them. I know what it’s like to look at a woman you are drawn to for reasons you don’t fully comprehend.

I understood this more fully last month, when I spoke to award-winning playwright Djanet Sears for the second time in my life.

***

The first time I met Djanet Sears, I was in my second year of university. We had read Harlem Duet in a course on African-Canadian literature. Djanet was invited to campus for a special class visit. I remember how she spoke, how she pointedly addressed a girl who wanted to know why the only white character in the play is never seen onstage. I remember feeling something like awe and admiration mixed up together. After the presentation, I tried to come up with something important to ask. I wanted to talk to her, get close to her, hear her say something meant for me alone. She was so grand, so powerful. I wanted that so desperately. But I was still awkward, unsure of myself, my blackness. What could I ask her?

“How do I find more monologues that I can perform for auditions that are written for black women?” I said.

She smiled in a way that delighted and frightened me. “Write your own,” she said.

At the time, I was interested in acting. I was not a writer. But her words stuck with me. I enrolled in a playwriting class two years later. The play I wrote – my upside down black face – was my first published work. Two monologues – one featuring a young, black girl – were published in an anthology. The project helped me get into graduate school, which is where I wrote my first book – a memoir about my father and about growing up black in Canada. It’s the book I’m asked to speak about in schools now.

I told Djanet about our first meeting when I saw her last month.  And as I shared that vivid memory of my first encounter with a published, black Canadian writer, I thought about all of those young girls with their tattered notebooks and torn pieces of paper, asking for my autograph.

You see, when women stand tall, when we occupy the world with the weight of our victories and our hardships firmly rooted in our bellies, younger women bear witness – dreaming bigger dreams with new hopes on their horizon — hopes that are full of anticipation and expectation of what might be possible for them despite the obstacles. We become their dreams, their new horizon. What a privilege. What an honor.

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

—   Maya Angelou


Jael Ealey Richardson is the author of The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The book received a CBC Bookie Award and earned Richardson an Acclaim Award and a My People Award. Excerpts from her first play, my upside down black face, are published in the anthology T-Dot Griots. Richardson has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She lives in Brampton where she serves as the Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD).

Origins of Tokyo Digs a Garden—Guest Post by J.E. Lappano

I first had the idea for Tokyo about a decade ago.

Throughout most of my 20s, I worked as a landscaper in Toronto, spending the spring, summer and fall in the tiny backyards, alleyways and rooftops of the city. The designer I worked for used native plants in his designs and hand tools whenever physically possible, taking a gentle approach and respect for the ecosystems we’d be cultivating. When I wasn’t complaining about back pain or the heat or the rain or the wind or the cold, I loved this work because it provided the space and time for daydreaming.

Lappano1 One of the urban gardens Lappano helped install & maintain while daydreaming about Tokyo Digs a Garden (Credit: Todd Smith Design)

Before long, the idea for Tokyo appeared: nature transforming a city overnight. Through some magic, the boundless imagination and creative destruction of childhood, Tokyo and Kevin let the wild loose across the city.

I’m intrigued by the idea that “the wild” is not something we have to leave our own backyards to see; even in the parking lots of high-rises, nature it’s there waiting for us to discover. It doesn’t take much coaxing to show itself. Lift a brick, or look in the cracks of pavement and there it is, in its cool, muddy potential.

I sat with the idea for about ten years before I decided to finally write something down.

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A view of Lappano’s workspace with intern pictured (bottom left)

And I didn’t do it alone. Our daughter Maia (my trusty four-year-old editor in residence) helped with the early drafts. I’d read the story aloud to her, and it became painfully clear when something worked or when something didn’t. (Kevin the cat and his quest for ice-cream earned a more prominent role because of her notes!) Amelia, our youngest, also loves Kevin, but is more captivated by Kellen Hatanaka’s detailed and vibrant illustrations, and wants to know more about each and every thing on the page.

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Amelia & Maia – celebrated book critics & self-proclaimed wildlings

Since becoming a parent, stories, like the natural world, are joys to discover. My wife Stephanie is a library enthusiast; she comes home weekly with bags and bags of picture books that the four of us happily devour. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to add Tokyo Digs a Garden to the vast literary territory that’s out there for children, parents, and all book lovers to explore. With any luck, it can help to transport us into a space where nature thrives and endures in the wildness of our imaginations.

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Lappano poses with a woodland gnome in Guelph, Ontario. Nature is full of surprises!


Groundwood Logos SpineTokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings with his family and his cat, Kevin. For years, highways and skyscrapers have been built up around the family’s house where once there were hills and trees. Will they ever experience the natural world again?

One day, an old woman offers Tokyo seeds, telling him they will grow into whatever he wishes. Tokyo and his grandfather are astonished when the seeds grow into a forest so lush that it takes over the entire city overnight. Soon the whole city has gone wild, with animals roaming where cars once drove. But is this a problem to be surmounted, or a new way of living to be embraced?

With Tokyo Digs a Garden, Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka have created a thoughtful and inspiring fable of environmentalism and imagination.

Gertrude and Alice: Gay Icons — Guest Post by Monica Kulling

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.

Gertrude and Alice: Gay Icons

Over the years I’ve written a few biographies. My first subject was handed to me on a silver platter, so to speak. An editor I was working with asked me if I’d consider writing about Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance. I agreed to give it a go. Without the new evidence now available, I wasn’t able to solve the mystery of the intrepid aviatrix. However, I did conclude that I admired her courage and jaunty sportiness. Since then, every woman I’ve written about — that list includes Harriet Tubman, Margaret E. Knight, Emily Carr, Lillian Gilbreth and Mother Jones— has impressed me with her courage, artistry, inventiveness, industry, intelligence and feistiness.

So, what do I admire about Gertrude Stein and her life partner Alice B. Toklas? I most certainly admire their devotion to one another, their intellectual rigor, their joyful approach to living. They created a salon at their home at 27 rue de Fleurus where many an aspiring artist dropped by to talk shop, eat brownies and basically bask in the glow of Stein’s genius. And oddly, that self-proclaimed genius still inspires. It’s tough to put one’s finger on why this is so, given that most of Stein’s writing is indecipherable and borders on the ridiculous. Then again, how can you not admire a person who exudes such self-assurance; who, in fact, made undaunted self-confidence her métier? And that is one of the things I hope kids will take away from Happy Birthday, Alice Babette. Trust yourself. Dare to fail. Dream big.


Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. The third book in the series, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, was nominated for the 2012 Governor General’s Award for illustration and chosen as the 2012 Simon Wiesenthal Honor Book. In addition, Monica’s work has been nominated for numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Lumpito and the Painter from Spain, Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity and The Tweedles Go Electric. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

International Women’s Day—Guest Post by Christine Baldacchino

I guess it would be odd to start off a piece for International Women’s Day by admitting that I grew up rather distrustful of girls.

I was bullied badly when I was a child, by both boys and girls. But being bullied by the girls felt as though it was edged with betrayal, and that left far deeper cuts. I was a girl, they were girls. Weren’t we all supposed to stick together?

I grew up watching shows like Dallas and Dynasty with my parents in the evening, and soaps like Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless in the afternoon. Women were constantly attacking each other. They were getting pushed into pools or wedding cakes. They were pulling each other’s hair or ripping each other’s clothes. They were slut-shaming each other, humiliating each other, throwing each other under buses. They were rarely fighting for money or power – that was for the men. The women mostly fought over men. The women would only fight for money or power if it involved taking it from other women. The woman almost never got to be the super villain – she had to fight other women to be the super villain’s wife.

I slowly started to become aware of how frequently and enthusiastically the media pitted us against one another. And when I say slowly, I mean at a glacial-like pace, because the whole “survival of the fittest/prettiest/thinnest/best-dressed/most popular” thing was very deeply ingrained. It took years to realize that my mistrust had been entirely misplaced. The “mean girls” were also victims in a way, though blissfully unaware of it. Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe we weren’t giving each other enough credit.

When I was a child being bullied for not being “a real girl”, I rarely took the time to consider what had the girls so adamantly believing I wasn’t normal, and what gave their attacks that extra bite. Once I did take that time, though, it went a long way towards me silently forgiving my childhood tormenters and doing a little healing. When I wrote Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, I wanted to infuse Morris not just with the pride that comes with being yourself, but also with the pride that comes with being enlightened. It’s what saved my life. It’s what gave me hope that if I could figure it out, maybe other girls could, too.

I was afraid of girls once. Maybe the same way some people are still afraid of a boy in a dress.

Fast-forward to today, sitting in front of my laptop at 4:30 a.m. trying to decide which of all the amazing, inspiring women I’ve opened my life up to I should write about for International Women’s Day. I’ve been agonizing over it for two weeks now, but it’s hopeless – I can’t pick just one, and if I were to write about all of them, I’d never get to bed.

I could have bigger problems, right?


Christine Baldacchino is a graphic artist and web designer with a background in early childhood education. Her picture book Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress was the winner of the CBC Bookie Award for Best Picture Book 2015. She lives with her husband in Toronto. She likes cats and the colour orange.

Old Woman—Guest Post by Martine Leavitt

International Women’s Day is March 8th, so with the help of some of our female authors, we’ve decided to dedicate the entire month to women and their stories.

Old Woman

Dear Tim and David and Kekla,

I can never explain myself verbally, which is likely in part why I became a writer. I was trying, that night in the faculty lounge, to tell you what it is like for me, now that I’m an old woman. This is what I was really trying to say:

When I was young, though I didn’t know it, I was beautiful. I became aware of it the day before everything changed. I understood on that day that I had been moving through the universe in a slipstream of pulchritude, a sparkling force-field, a charmed existence that softened some hearts and inspired something else in others. One day I knew it, and the next it was gone. One day for knowing, one day for mourning, and one for wondering what I might have done with that beauty if I had known of it.

But then – lightness. I move smaller and unnoticed through the universe, since then, as if I passed some long initiation and now I get to go in peace, as if I am now acknowledged to be made of some finer material. I wonder how I lived before, with the weight of years-ahead-of-me, and ambition aplenty, and having to carry it all with the ideologies of femininity to face like a headwind. I can’t blame everything on the world, however tempted: Every day I shed something I didn’t recognize was my own strength, shed it like a snake sheds her skin, and I wondered at that papery being that looked something like me.

Now I am in the Sabbath of my life, the seventh decade, and in it I find a kind of rest. I have grown into my face. It is comfortable, not too tight, with just enough room to stretch into any given expression at any given moment, according to whim. My feet and ankles ache, but expectations are low. I have the comfort of grandchildren who are being raised better than their parents were. My dieting days are over, and yet my husband likes me just the way I am. I have a little less estrogen, my husband a little less testosterone, and the Venn diagram of our relationship overlaps a little more, sometimes even nests. I never shed my strength now – it means I am less shiny, but more interesting. My writing brings more joy because I have learned to admire where before I had envied, to pity those who are unkind, to see clearly that the line that divides coveting and surrender, pride and humility, resistance and forbearance, is a pale, wandering line.

I see young women as music, each particle of them vibrating at a register of loveliness. But I want to say this to them: One day you will cease to be beautiful and you will be old, and as hard as is it to believe, I promise you will be glad. What a remarkable thing is an old woman, if I do say so myself.

And that, dear friends, is what I was trying to say.

Much love,
Martine


Martine Leavitt is the author of ten novels for young readers. My Book of Life by Angel, which received five starred reviews, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year. Other titles include Keturah and Lord Death, finalist for the National Book Award; Tom Finder, winner of the Mr. Christie’s Book Award; and Heck Superhero, finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Her novels have been published in Japan, Korea, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. Martine teaches creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

New Releases from Groundwood this March

We made it! It’s finally time to celebrate some new books, and we’ve got quite the selection this March; familiar faces, many new, and a couple favourites reissued in paperback.


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Buddy and Earl Go Exploring
by Marueen Fergus, illustrated by Carey Sookocheff
Available: March 1

Buddy and Earl are safely tucked in for the night; Buddy on his blanket and Earl in his cage. But just as Buddy settles in for a nice, long sleep, Earl says it’s time to say “Bon voyage.”

Soon these mismatched pals are at it again, exploring the wilds of the kitchen and defending a lovely lady hedgehog — who may or may not be Mom’s hairbrush — from imminent danger. When they’ve finally vanquished the greatest monster of all — the vacuum cleaner — it’s time for some well-earned shut-eye.

This second book in the Buddy and Earl series reunites this odd and loveable animal couple: a dog who likes to play by the rules and a hedgehog who knows no limits.


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Malaika’s Costume
by Nadia L. Hohn, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Available: March 1

It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

Disappointed and upset at her grandmother’s hand-me-down costume, Malaika leaves the house, running into Ms. Chin, the tailor, who offers Malaika a bag of scrap fabric. With her grandmother’s help, Malaika creates a patchwork rainbow peacock costume, and dances proudly in the parade.

A heartwarming story about family, community and the celebration of Carnival, Nadia Hohn’s warm and colloquial language and Irene Luxbacher’s vibrant collage-style illustrations make this a strikingly original picture book.


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Tokyo Digs a Garden
by Jon-Erik Lappano & Kellen Hatanaka
Available: March 1

Tokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings with his family and his cat, Kevin. For years, highways and skyscrapers have been built up around the family’s house where once there were hills and trees. Will they ever experience the natural world again?

One day, an old woman offers Tokyo seeds, telling him they will grow into whatever he wishes. Tokyo and his grandfather are astonished when the seeds grow into a forest so lush that it takes over the entire city overnight. Soon the whole city has gone wild, with animals roaming where cars once drove. But is this a problem to be surmounted, or a new way of living to be embraced?

With Tokyo Digs a Garden, Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka have created a thoughtful and inspiring fable of environmentalism and imagination.


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The White Cat and the Monk
by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith
Available: March 1

A monk leads a simple life. He studies his books late into the evening and searches for truth in their pages. His cat, Pangur, leads a simple life, too, chasing prey in the darkness. As night turns to dawn, Pangur leads his companion to the truth he has been seeking.

The White Cat and the Monk is a retelling of the classic Old Irish poem “Pangur Bán.” With Jo Ellen Bogart’s simple and elegant narration and Sydney’s Smith’s classically inspired images, this contemplative story pays tribute to the wisdom of animals and the wonders of the natural world.


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Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding
by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Fernando Vilela
Paperback Reissue
Available: March 1

Now available in paperback, Arroz con leche / Rice Pudding is the second title of Jorge Argueta’s popular bilingual Cooking Poems series, celebrating the joys of preparing, eating and sharing food.

From sprinkling the rice into the pot, to adding a waterfall of milk, cinnamon sticks, salt stars and sugar snow, Jorge Argueta’s recipe is not only easy to follow, it is a poetic experience. The lively illustrations by Fernando Vilela feature an enthusiastic young cook who finds no end of joy in making and then slurping up the rice pudding with his family.

As in all the titles in this series, Arroz con leche / Rice Pudding conveys the pleasure of making something delicious to eat for people you really love. A great book for families to enjoy together.


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Guacamole
by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Margarita Sada
Paperback Reissue
Available: March 1

Following on the success of Sopa de frijoles / Bean Soup and Arroz con leche / Rice Pudding is Jorge Argueta’s third book in his bilingual cooking poem series — Guacamole — with very cute, imaginative illustrations by Margarita Sada.

Guacamole originated in Mexico with the Aztecs and has long been popular in North America, especially in recent years due to the many health benefits of avocados. This version of the recipe is easy to make, calling for just avocados, limes, cilantro and salt. A little girl dons her apron, singing and dancing around the kitchen as she shows us what to do. Poet Jorge Argueta sees beauty, magic and fun in everything around him — avocados are like green precious stones, salt falls like rain, cilantro looks like a little tree and the spoon that scoops the avocado from its skin is like a tractor.

As in the previous cooking poems, Guacamole conveys the pleasure of making something delicious and healthy to eat for people you really love. A great book for families to enjoy together.


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Outside In
by Sarah Ellis
Paperback Reissue
Available: March 1

Lynn’s life is full — choir practice, school, shopping for the perfect jeans, and dealing with her free-spirited mother. Then one day her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family — both more bizarre, yet somehow more sane, than Lynn’s own.

Blossom’s family is a small band of outcasts and eccentrics who live secretly in an ingenious bunker beneath a city reservoir. The Underlanders forage and trade for the things they need (“Is it useful or lovely?”), living off the things “Citizens” throw away. Lynn is enchanted and amazed. But when she inadvertently reveals their secret, she is forced to take measure of her own motives and lifestyle, as she figures out what it really means to be a family, and a friend.

Classic Sarah Ellis, this novel is smart, rich, engaging and insightful.

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