Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Lion, Indiana, and the Mouse

You have probably heard by now that The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney won the Caldecott Medal, an annual award honoring the best illustration in an American children's picture book. We love the cover and think the Lion bears a strong resemblance to our golden retriever, Indiana. (Imagine him with a mane.) Indiana certainly considers himself king of the household, just as the Lion is the king of the jungle and forest!

Pinkney, a highly regarded artist and illustrator, won the Caldecott Honor five times as well as many other awards, but this one caps his long career. Read an interview here.

The dyslexic Pinkney applied, studied, and perfected his drawing craft, compensating for his reading and writing difficulty. He specializes in creative retellings of folktales or fables.

In the case of his Caldecott winner, he retells Aesop's old fable of the lion & the mouse using only pictures of the African savannah and spelling out animal sounds. He brings the tale to life in a new way, allowing every reader to put his or her own nuance into the story. Themes beyond Aesop's moral emerge, with the animals' expressions evoking emotions from fear to empathy to relief to humor. Every spread is a visual feast.

Congratulations, Jerry Pinkney! Thanks for creating a book for all ages of readers and all ages of time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cold Comfort

image from

Several of you had great ideas for staying warm from hot water bottles to fireplaces to hot cocoa, which brings me to today's post--comfort food!

We are out of the deep freeze here, but one meal that made it more bearable was green chili casserole and hot fudge cake. In fact, I decided that green chilies make me happy! They are good on hamburgers, with pork, with eggs, in soups, in salsa (salsa verde), and so many other ways. Here are some recipes from Pioneer Woman Cooks, if you need some ideas.

Chilies can even be strung on twine and hung as an edible decoration or wreath!

Chilies have a lot of nutritional value, too, adding vitamins A, B2, B6, C, calcium, iron, and other nutrients to our diets. The New Mexico State University's Chili Pepper Institute has a complete list here.

And after a meal containing chilies, what could be better than reading a book about them? I recommend The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas. Set in late 1800's New Mexico, a motley cast of characters forges friendships--or at least accompliceships--sharing their dreams, grudges, and crimes.

This post lives up to my blog title, for I've offered you something to read, some facts about chilies, and the food that makes me happy. What foods make you happy?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How Cold Is It?

"How cold is it?" the garden cherub asks.

As of 9:45 p.m. on 1/2/10, it is -3 degrees Farenheit, with a wind chill of -19. That is actually warmer than it was this morning! When we went out for breakfast at 9 a.m., the temp was -14! That is the factual answer to the cherub's question. His reply?

"I'm freezing my behind!"

How are you staying warm this winter?