A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
A Paul Wiseman Book
Simon & Schuster
(pub. 1.18.22) 48 pages
Author: Diane Stanley
Illustrator: Jessie Hartland
Character: Alice Waters
"Whenever young Alice Waters tasted something delicious, like the sun-warmed berries from her family’s garden or a crisp, ripe apple picked straight from the tree, she would remember it for the rest of her life. Later, as she tasted many more wonderful foods, she realized what made them so good—they were fresh and ripe, grown or made the old-fashioned way.
When Alice grew up, she opened a restaurant called Chez Panisse. As part of her quest to make delicious food, Alice sought out small, local farmers to provide the meat, dairy, and produce. The restaurant made her famous, but it did much more than that—it started a food revolution. Today, home cooks and chefs alike are all discovering the simple secret to the Best! Food! Ever! This book is a celebration of food, cooking, and the woman whose curiosity and devotion to flavor kickstarted America’s interest in buying local, organic food."
" She makes fancy French dinners for her friends. They sit around her table for hours, the way French people do, enjoying the food, friendship, and conversation.
Alice graduates from college with no plan for what to do next. Her favorite thing is French cooking, but that's not a job. It would be if she owned a restaurant, but she doesn't have the money or the experience. So instead, she works at this and that. None of it feels right.
One day she sees an old house for sale. It's kind of a mess, but she could fix it up. And it would be the perfect place for a restaurant. Like a French grandmother's house - warm and comfortable, with flowers on the tables, soft light streaming through the windows, wonderful smells drifting out of the kitchen."
And something more: The discussion of Alice and Her Delicious Revolution, at the back of the book, explains that "she used her fame to start a national conversation that quickly spread and continues to this day. Thanks to Alice Waters, more and more people are planting gardens and visiting farmers markets, enjoying food that's fresh, local, organic, healthy, and delicious. Food grown in a way that enriches the earth instead of depleting and polluting it. Food cooked and eaten at home, once again bringing families together around a table." Yes, bravo to Alice Waters and to her wonderful Chez Panisse at which I've had the good fortune to dine on many occasions. Delightful and delicious!
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly
Sews Her Way to Freedom
A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
(pub.11.9.2021) 48 pages
Author: Connie Schofield-Morrison
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Character: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly
"An awe-inspiring African American woman! A talented seamstress, born a slave, bought freedom for herself and her son.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in 1818, enslaved to a Virginian plantation owner. As a teenager, Lizzy was sent to work as the only slave on a small plantation, where the work was endless, and the masters treated her with unspeakable cruelty. A new master, learning Lizzy could sew, sent her to work for a tailor, who paid the master, not Lizzy, for Lizzy's work.
The beautiful gowns that Lizzy created were displayed in the tailor's window and soon attracted the attention of the wealthiest women in Virginia. Among them was Mrs. Jefferson Davis who also introduced Lizzy to Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Lizzy first had to borrow money from her wealthy patrons to buy her freedom, once she was free, she was able to earn money of her own and pay them all back."
" When Lizzy delivered the dress on the night of the party, Mrs. Lincoln insisted she didn't have enough time and refused to dress and join her guests. Her sister and her cousin were finally able to persuade Mrs Lincoln to let Lizzy dress her.
Laughing and quoting poetry, the president entered the room, threw himself on the couch, and said,
'I declare, you look charming in that dress.
Mrs. Keckly has met with great success.''
Mrs. Lincoln's dress was much admired at the party, and Lizzy became the First Lady's regular dressmaker, sewing at least fifteen dresses over the next two season ... stitch by stitch."
And something more: I'm always so thrilled to see more incredible illustrations by the talented Elizabeth Zunon (who illustrated our book, My Hands Sing the Blues - Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey). And I couldn't agree more with these Starred Reviews:
"The illustrations are a remarkable collage of painted scenes that are combined with decorative paper, fabric, lace, ribbon, braid trim, and intricate embroidery. This creates a three-dimensional presentation that brings to life the creativity and craftsmanship of Lizzy’s dresses... An essential purchase that will strengthen all biography collections."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
"Schofield-Morrison fashions a poignant tribute... Elizabeth Zunon’s breathtaking and masterful mixed-media illustrations—incorporating oil, paint, fabric, ribbon, paper, embroidery, and appliqué—beautifully capture the artistry of Keckly’s dresses. A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
the life & art of CORITA KENT
A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
Enchanted Lion Books
(pub.9.7.2021) 80 pages
Author: Matthew Burgess
Character: Corita Kent
"Corita Kent (1918–1986) lived a remarkable life as an artist, educator, nun, and activist. Unapologetically holding true to herself and her beliefs, Corita spread a powerful message of love, hope, and justice with her work, as it evolved from figurative and religious art, to serigraphs incorporating the sacred and the ordinary, to a sparser, more introspective style.
This timely story will draw readers into the life of a singular woman whose work and commitment invite us all to seek joy in the everyday, to observe the world with open eyes, and to question and see beyond the existing frameworks of society."
" As an art teacher, Corita was serious about PLAY. She believed the best work is done when play and work are one.
She even created a new word: PLORK
In one assignment, Corita asked her students to cut a small window into a piece of cardboard to make a FINDER.
Together, they walked down Hollywood Boulevard to a gas station, car wash, and supermarket. She wanted her students to look at ordinary things until the little details came alive.
Pretend you are a microscope
'New ideas are bursting all around and all this comes into YOU and is changed by YOU.'"
And something more: Matthew Burgess, in the Author's Note, explains that "Like Keith Haring, another one of my artistic heroes, Corita believed that art is for everyone...Corita also believed that every person possesses creative potential, and as a teacher myself, I wholeheartedly agree."
Kara Kramer, in the Illustrator's Note, shares that "... I'm deeply grateful for this experience to collaborate with Claudia [at Enchanged Lion] and Matthew, and I like to think Corita, too, who seemed to be in the very air around me, especially in the beginning of this process. I remember walking my dog one day in Brooklyn and stopping because right there at my feet was a bag of popcorn, with the words 'fresh and hot,' printed in red, and a bird close by eating the crumbs. It felt likeg Corita was winking at me, reminding me to 'Go Slow,' and notice the WONDER happenin right before my eyes."