Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Here's hoping that you survived any pranks you might have encountered yesterday, it being April Fool's Day and all. I lucked out with being off from work so I hibernated at home with a movie/pizza night, and all the reading I could "eat". As for being "taken", I clicked through a few of the more entertaining ads just to see what's what and managed a good chuckle. Laughter is good for the soul, right? Yes, indeed...and so is a healthy dose of friendship and love, bringing us to today's post and featured title...
About the book...
It’s Alice’s birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve.
While Alice spends the day walking around Paris — riding a carousel in the park and watching a puppet show — Gertrude turns her attention to the kitchen. She is determined to make a lavish dinner with all of Alice’s favorite things and write a poem to match the occasion.
But the lure of the perfect poetic line proves to be too distracting, and just as Alice’s day takes an exciting and unexpected turn, Gertrude’s big dinner falls all to pieces. The poem turns out beautifully, of course, but the house is a bit of a mess. It’s a good thing Alice doesn’t mind cleaning up. And that she has such a good brownie recipe for their guests.
Today, we're celebrating the early arrival of another Picture Book wonder from author Monica Kulling via Groundwood Books. Is the name ringing a bell? Well, it should! We've featured her work several times and always glad to join the party when another hits store shelves. Her work always manages to bring to life something of little known history but of utmost importance that we're usually taking for granted while delivering messages that echo through reading audiences of all ages. Today's selection is no different in those veins, only the fact that the events in the tale were "inspired by" versus a record of, varies. That's okay though because even when imagined, it still comes from a place grounded in reality that one can easily see it being so.
Here, we have a story inspired by the lives of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, best friends from a time gone by that left their marks equally on the world. (Did I mention that the author's works always spark that need to explore further?) In this story on this particular day, it is Alice's birthday and she is oh-so-excited to see what's in store for her, but the surprise she get is on her. It's a classic case of oh-my-they-forgot-about-my-big-day, or at least that's the way it looks ala Sixteen Candles, only...it isn't; she just doesn't know it yet. Alice sets out to celebrate her day in her own way (which by the way, is definitely a my-way-too situation!) with plans to return home later that evening. In the mean time, Gertrude has plans of her own to make her a party she won't forget full of her favorite foods, a tasty dessert, and a poem to commemorate the occasion. Sounds great, right? Umm...yeah, about that.
Gertrude is a pro in the writing aspect of things, but cooking isn't really her forte...reminding us that it's the thought that counts in gifts received, not necessarily the quality or quantity. She tries her best on all fronts but in the end, her talents win out over those that she tried to adopt for the day...you know writers, they get distracted by their craft and a boiling pot waits for no man/woman. Her friend comes home from a day of merriment to discover...well let's just say that they are best friends for a reason and that fondness runs deep. A smile brought to the other's face was something worth celebrating and though it may not have turned out exactly as Gertrude intended, it was still an event to remember with good food, friends, and moments to cherish a lifetime through.
In the end, it's a simple tale filled with love, friendship, and the mishaps that both can encounter along the rocky road of life. It reminds us to cherish those we hold dear, never forget the efforts behind the results, and to celebrate ALL the moments with a full heart. The combination of gentle story and playful illustrations work wonders to whisk you to old Paris as we wander the streets with Alice, stress over our self assigned task with Gertrude, and eventually toast the day with a cup of tea. It was a birthday to remember and a celebration that will carry over from the wee ones to readers up there in years.
About the author...
Monica Kulling was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She received a BA in creative writing from the University of Victoria. Monica Kulling has published twenty-six fiction and nonfiction books for children, including picture books, poetry, and biographies. She is best known for introducing biography to children just learning to read and has written about Harriet Tubman, Houdini, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart among others. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada.
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About the illustrator...
Qin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. Throughout her career, Qin has illustrated picture books, magazines and book covers with publishers around the world. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the APALA Award for best picture book
Special thanks to the Groundwood Books team for the copy for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, her growing collection of works, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now via Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anasi Press, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!