Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Chocolate Book Blog

With all the chocolate lovers and book lovers out there, it just had to happen. Someone finally came up with the idea of starting a blog about books AND chocolates! Karen Hall, founder of the Kid Literature Authors site, is responsible for this delightful and yummy endeavor. I first learned about it from Laurie who posted about it on Facebook.

When I received an email from Laurie asking if I'd like to take part, I had no second thoughts! I hinted as much when I posted a comment on her post, after all. While I'm no longer able to indulge, chocolate remains my tried and true happy food. As for books, well, that one need not be explained.

The idea for the Chocolate Book Blog is to write about 6 favorite children's books and then pair each one with a kind of chocolate. Isn't that scrumptious? 

Go Dog Go.jpgThe first one I'm listing is Go Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman. I didn't read this one as a child. I read it to my children. I have to admit that at some point, I may have memorized the book considering the number of rereads that were requested almost every night. As Dr. Seuss books go, this one has all kinds of dogs driving all kinds of cars. While children are entertained by the sight and sound of all that wackiness, they also learn about colors and sizes, in or out, and up or down. In the end, the dogs all meet up a tree to enjoy a huge dog party.

Hands down, I'd say M&M's are the best partner for this book because of all the primary colors used in the illustrations. My favorite M&M's are the ones that come in dark chocolate with peanuts!

Dark Chocolate Peanut MMs

Like Laurie, I have a favorite Madeleine L'Engle book too. After reading A Wrinkle in Time, I quickly looked for more because I fell in love with the Murrays and the O'Keefes and the coming together of magic and science. I found, though, that the one I kept going back to was A Swiftly Tilting Planet


In this book, the youngest child, Charles Wallace has reached adolescence. With the help of the usually taciturn Mrs. O'Keefe (his sister Meg's mother-in-law), a unicorn named Gaudior, and a rune, he sets out to save the world from a dictator by traveling to the past. 

I'm pretty sure Patrick's Rune was a major factor in roping me in. Each chapter was titled with a line from the rune and reading it always made me feel that there really was some kind of power to it.

I just had to pair this book with chocolate filled with Bailey's Irish Cream in honor of Patrick and his rune. Liquer-filled chocolates aren't really my thing but these are perfect after dinner treats.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams is another favorite. I think it's one of those books that can be read over and over again through adulthood and the concept of "real" still rings true. Here, a stuffed rabbit learns that it's possible to become Real if one is loved and cherished. The rabbit eventually becomes the little boy's favorite and gives much comfort specially when the little boy is stricken with scarlet fever. However, when the fever passes, the doctor orders the velveteen rabbit burned along with other toys now deemed to be germ-carriers. All ends well for the velveteen rabbit when the Nursery Fairy comes to turn him into a real rabbit.

I do remember wishing, though, that the little boy realizes that the rabbit he sees one day in the garden not only looks like his old toy but that it really was the rabbit he once loved.

The Velveteen Rabbit pg 1.jpg
The chocolate that came to mind right away when The Velveteen Rabbit made it to my list was Kinder Bueno! Maybe it's the "kinder" or maybe it's because of the eggs. I first saw these German chocolates in their egg form during a visit to HongKong years ago. My oldest son was about 10 and he loved going over to the vending machines that had all the Kinder Bueno eggs. The hazelnut cream filling was yummy but he really got them for the little plastic toys that were inside the eggs.

I'm not sure if the eggs are still available since I read that the plastic toys were deemed hazardous here in the US. So to make sure, just get the bars!

These next books were under the vintage category. That means I must be vintage as well!  I just had to include them not only because I've always considered nursery rhymes and stories like Jack and the Beanstalk to be childhood staples but also because as a child, I really adored these illustrations by Anne Sellers Leaf. When I was working for a preschool, I painted Jack on one of the support posts in the receiving area. He was one of my favorites as well as the cow with the crumpled horn in The House That Jack Built.

I wish I had larger images but these were all I could find.


Speaking of vintage, here's something from my childhood that remains a favorite: ChocNut! The Filipino store in the Danbury area carries them so hooray! Some people find it dry and it's certainly not anything like the chocolates I've been posting. It's definitely peanut-y, though, which appeals to a peanut butter lover like me. When we were little, my sisters and I would open them up to see if we'd find a "get one free" coupon that's usually in between the paper sleeve and the aluminum wrapper. Most of them had those coupons too so it was almost like having an endless supply. Then someone wisened up and that was that!

Crow Boy by Taro Yashima is an item in my must-have list. It's also something I'd gladly share and will have no trouble with getting another copy if it never got around to being returned. When I think of this book, the first word that comes to mind is quiet.

Set in Japan, it is the story of a boy who lives in a very remote area and has to walk quite a distance to get to school. His classmates make fun of him until a very wise teacher turns things around by showing the class what this seemingly strange classmate can do. It turns out, he can imitate all sorts of crow calls. This not only impresses the class, it also allows them a glimpse into what kind of life Crow Boy (the name they give him) must have. The story touches on bullying, on loneliness, on understanding, and compassion.

This book was once challenged by a school board member but the challenge was outvoted, thank goodness.

I'm pairing this book with a dark chocolate because of the crows. It should be something not only dark but a bit "deadly" in a yummy kind of way.  Ghirardelli has several dark chocolate varieties but I chose this one mostly because of the name. This is the Intense Dark Twilight Delight bar. It begins with Intense and Dark and while Crow Boy may not have that dark of a beginning to its readers, it's possible that having to travel very far to a school where he knows he's not liked creates that kind of emotion for him. Twilight to me is the transition because twilight is the time of day when the sun's almost gone but it's not quite dark yet. This time, though, the transition moves not into darkness but to one of Delight.


And now, my choice for the final book is Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I enjoyed reading this to my sons. The I Spy format is especially fun because of the illustrations that are magical and delightful. Each page, blown up a bit larger and framed would do very nicely in a nursery.

Lindor Truffles are hard to resist and whenever there's an assortment around, I do a bit of the I Spy game. Is that a black wrapper peeking under all the golds and reds? It'll probably be a bit much for me to figure out a rhyme to go with each flavor, but look at how nicely the book and chocolate images go together!

And that's it for this Chocolate Book Blog! I really enjoyed sharing my choices. The challenge was not going out to look for chocolates to eat while writing this post. Maybe I'll grab some peanut butter instead.

Thank you again to Laurie J. Edwards for tagging me! Make sure to check out her Chocolate Blog Post and while you're there, take a look at the books she's penned too. Be transported by clicking here!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


2014 is turning out to be quite a ride. This must be the year when, in my old age, I have to decide what I really and truly want to be when I grow up.  Focus, focus, focus! I keep telling myself that specially when I find myself illustrating one day then wanting to try out making a doll the next, then discovering a whole new way to do art two days after. Whenever I see a technique or style or craft that gets me all excited, I feel that I just have to try my hand at it.

It harks back to my childhood when I used to always take things apart to see how they worked. I inspected my dolls' clothing to see how they were sewn and one of the first things I used to do whenever I had a new doll was to see if it had underpants. It might sound crazy but it was important to me that they weren't painted on or skipped altogether just because the doll came in pants.

So yesterday, while I was working on my Butt In Chair entry for the day, this craziness I put myself in kept popping in my head. If you happen to follow me on Instagram (under my paperwitheverything profile), you'll see that I ended up taking off just to get away from it all. I went to the mall, found that some things had changed since I'd been there, and then got myself a flourless chocolate cookie and coffee.

Yesterday was the last of the 3-day class with Kari Chapin on CreateLive. It was all about having a handmade business so most of the attendees were artists, designers, and crafters. I skipped the last day because of the need to get away and take stock of things. I needed to be where I wouldn't pick up a pencil or fabric. I didn't even bring my iPad so I wouldn't start sketching.

Now this is not an easy thing for me to do given how my mind flits from one thing to another but sometimes when I'm in a different environment, I can actually focus. So I did.

In the end (and after I found myself in a part of Macy's I'd never been to before where I walked away with a couple of baby clothes for my granddaughter, Sophie), it was all a matter of making the surface design, illustration, and writing work with one another. I couldn't seem to walk away from any of them so I might as well put all them together to work for me.

I also had to face up to the fact that I needed a dependable income to support this endeavor and that I'd have to just squirrel away hours that I can dedicate to losing myself in all that can be magical and wonderful--at least to me. So I applied at retail stores. I'm not sure I'm even employable but well, a job means income. Maybe I can bring some magic in whatever work environment I wind up in. Whatever it is, it's something to do while the right agent or publisher hasn't yet discovered how fabulous I am.

I wrote that with a straight face too.

Meanwhile, my Butt In Chair entry will be a bit delayed today because of this post. Besides, yesterday's entry was brewing in my story-telling lobe all day yesterday and resulted in this sketch over breakfast. He's not the main character, though. Those are still just bits and pieces that haven't resolved themselves just yet.

All in all, it was a good Wednesday. I'm not sure if I can say that about 2014 when it's all done but getting away and taking stock makes things a bit more manageable. I even got home in time for the Modern Family reruns.