Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Madame Pamplemousse

One of my very favorite writers is Roald Dahl, in particular his books for children. Even though I reread his books again and again with great pleasure, there is always a sad empty space in my heart longing for a new Matilda, a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or any of his other whimsical and incredibly funny books. The unfortunate fact is that Roald Dahl will never write another book because he went to Oompa Loompa heaven. 
Recently, however, that sad place in my heart became a lot smaller. I discovered Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles, by Rupert Kingfisher. Madeleine has to wash dishes in her terrible uncle's restaurant every summer. She is a very promising little chef, but Uncle Lard is a very insecure and jealous man. Luck brings Madeleine to Edibles, a little shop owned by Madame Pamplemousse. But then Uncle Lard forces Madeleine to spy on Madame Pamplemousse and that's when things become complicated...
I loved, loved, loved this book! Kingfisher's very fulfilling world of heroines and villains is one to be reckoned with. From the dark and musty store, Camembert the incredible cat, to the pig-like Mr. Lard, Madame Pamplemousse kept my attention from the moment I opened the book until I put it down. I can't wait to read more of Kingfisher's work! And I have to mention that the cover art is very inviting, and the pen and ink interior illustrations are much fun. Sue Hellard certainly lived up to the challenge. Thank you for a great book.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our First Week-End in the Country

We just went back to our fixer upper in the country after a five month hiatus. All in all it wasn't bad. No major plumbing explosions, no break-ins or roof leaks, just a decaying dead dear in the front yard, (yuck!) some new critter house mates, a dead bird in the chimney, and the usual suspects, an army of little biting black flies waiting to eat us up as soon as we set foot out the door.
Don't get me wrong, we had a great time. We assessed all the work we still need to do on the house and the yard. We ate outside on the back porch, we walked to the river and we pulled out many many weeds. Okay, we're a little overwhelmed, though nothing the soon to be sweltering heat of the City can't take care of.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Felted Easter Eggs and Nest

Time for another craft entry. This time, for Easter, I decided to make an robins nest and eggs. I love decorating eggs but decided to try some felting first. I am happy with the result, still have all my fingers (although some have little red dots on them), and I didn't brake my one and only felting needle. Hopefully, Saturday morning will allow for some egg painting. All depends on my husband being willing to blow out half a dozen eggs and my daughter not to brake them. Wishing you a happy Easter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nice Encounters

At the first keynote of the last SCBWI winter conference I sat next to a woman called Suzie Jean. We started talking, she was a very friendly librarian and writer and we exchanged cards. Immediately after the conference we emailed and she ordered both my books, Hugging Hour, and Bella & Bean and both my husband, John Rocco's books, Wolf Wolf!, and Moonpowder. Suzie read our books to the children of the school she works at and sent us the nicest emails with comments from the kids about each book and pictures from the readings. 
How nice it that!
She wrote that when she asked the children: "What's your favorite part of this book?" They said: "All of it!"
I just want to say thank you to Suzie Jean!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carll Cneut

While in Belgium, we did of course purchase some picture books. One of them is called (literally  translated) The Secret from the Throat of the Nightingale, illustrated by Carll Cneut. 
Cneut has been one of my favorite illustrators since the first time I discovered one of his books, years ago. The books he published here in the States, are, The Amazing Love Story of Mr. Morf, (written and illustrated by Cneut) Antonio on the Other Side of the World, Getting Smaller, (written by Malachy Doyle) and Monster Don't Eat me, (written by Carl Norac). I love the way he uses his Acrylic paint thickly and dry, allowing the carefully chosen color of the layer below to show through. His use of color and pattern is beautiful and unique, and his play with perspective and scale, masterful. 

I hope this new book will make it to the American market, but for now I am happy to share some of his art here with you. (Top: cover of The Secret... Middle: spread from Antonio... Bottom: spread from Mr. Morf)

Carll Cneut makes me proud to be Belgian!