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News & Reviews

How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat



(Simon & Schuster)

(pub.1.12.2021) 32 pages

Author: Mara Rockliff

Illustrator: Giselle Potter

Character: Frieda Caplan

Overview: "In 1956, Frieda Caplan started working at the Seventh Street Produce Market in Los Angeles. Instead of competing with the men in the business with their apples, potatoes, and tomatoes, Frieda thought, why not try something new? Starting with mushrooms, Frieda began introducing fresh and unusual foods to her customers—snap peas, seedless watermelon, mangos, and more!

This groundbreaking woman brought a whole world of delicious foods to the United States, forever changing the way we eat. Frieda Caplan was always willing to try something new—are you?" Tantalizing taste:

"It took a while for everybody to get used to Frieda's funny-looking fruits.

'A watermelon can't be seedless!' (seedless watermelon, 1962)

'Bananas should be yellow, man!' (red bananas, 1978)

'Is this from outer space, or what?' (kiwano (horned melon), 1984)

But if Frieda felt it in her elbows, she knew it was going to catch on ... eventually."

And something more: Mara Rockliff writes in the back of the book: "When Frieda started selling produce, the average supermarket carried about sixty-five kinds of fruits and vegetables. Now shoppers can find seven to eight hundred, many of them introduced by Frieda's... A scientist once told Frieda that there were up to eighty thousand edible species of plants on Earth. Frieda was ready to try them all."

Updated: May 11, 2021

Romare Bearden's

Childhood Journey



Marshall Cavendish Children

(Two Lions Publishing) 40 pages PURCHASE HERE

Author:Jeanne Walker Harvey and Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon Character: Romare Bearden Overview from the jacket flap:

"As a young boy growing up in North Carolina, Romare Bearden listened to his great-grandmother's Cherokee stories and the whistles of trains steaming through town. When Romare's family, faced with Jim Crow laws, decided to head north, tears stung Romare's eyes as he watched the world whiz by out the train window. Later he captured his childhood memories in a famous painting, Watching the Good Trains Go By. Using that painting as inspiration and creating a text influenced by the blues and jazz that Bearden loved, Jeanne Walker Harvey has created a story of Bearden's childhood. She describes the patchwork of daily southern life that he saw from the train's window and the story of his arrival in shimmering New York City." Tantalizing taste: "I snip a patch of color and add a cut-out face. Oh! I glue on jazzy blue for sky and add another face. People walk into my work as if it's always been their place. My hands sing the blues when I paint and cut and paste. I never know what I’ll create when I paint and cut and paste. I use paper, fabrics, photos, and nothing goes to waste.” and something more: I wanted to share this post on my website blog (which I first posted on my TRUE TALES & A CHERRY ON TOP blog). At first I hesitated to write this post about my own book, My Hands Sing the Blues - Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey! But then I decided I wanted to sing about it from the rooftops (and my blog) -- it's such an exciting event for me. A dream come true to publish this book about this amazing artist and share my love of modern art with children! I first had the idea to write this book when, as a docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I gave tours to school groups of an incredible Bearden exhibit organized by The National Gallery (Ruth Fine, curator and author of the comprehensive The Art of Romare Beardenwhich I studied). During my tours at SFMOMA, I could barely move the students to the next painting because they were so fascinated by Romare Bearden's huge collages and the stories they told. So many people have been part of this book journey with me. I dedicated the book to my mom -- "For my mother, June, who always inspires me to put a beat of color on an empty canvas."It's true -- she embodies creativity and instilled a love of it (and modern art) in me. My wonderful sons have always been my biggest supporters and early readers of my drafts. And I also owe heartfelt thanks to my family and wonderful friends who always encourage me, the San Francisco Docent Program that inspired me to write this book, my writer mentors (including Uma Krishnaswami who kept my writing spark lit when I was doubting myself, and Anastasia Suen whose courses kept me focused and inspired, and Amy Novesky who has included me in the warmth of her writing groups), and Margery Cuyler, an amazing editor at Marshall Cavendish (and author of many children's books also), who artfully guided me to rethink the text in just the right spots, and the incredibly talented artist Elizabeth Zunon, who is truly the best illustrator I can imagine for this book, and Lucy, my 11 year old black Lab who patiently listened as I read my many drafts aloud over and over and over again. Thank you to all! "When I put a beat of color on an empty canvas, I never know what's coming down the track."

The Life of Artist Keith Haring



Farrar, Straus and Giroux


(pub. 12.1.2020)

48 pages

Author: Tami Lewis Brown

and illustrator: Keith Negley

Character: Keith Haring


"Keith Haring believed that art should be enjoyed by everyone. When Keith first moved to New York City, he rode the subway and noticed how the crowds were bored and brusque, and that the subways were decayed and dreary. He thought the people of New York needed liberating, illuminating, and radiating art. So he bought a stick of white chalk and started drawing…"

Tantalizing tast "With a brush and a pot of paint, he swooped and he swung, he lined and he striped. Black paint splashed as the thick brush dashed, swiping patterns to the beat of loud, thumping music - the way his father had taught him when he was small - until finally the whole room was covered with the strange shapes that rumbled inside Keith's brain."

And something more: In her Author's Note, Tami Lewis Brown explains that "in 1986, he worked with nine hundred children in New York City to paint a banner celebrating the Statue of Liberty's one hundredth birthday, and he wrote (and illustrated, of course) a wonderful book for children called Nina's Book of Little Things. In 2008, a forth-eight-foot-tall balloon inspired by Keith's Man with a Heart debuted in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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