March 2021 Issue #5
March 11, 2021
Welcome to the fifth issue of The Simpsonian Muse. I am your scribe, Martha Seif Simpson, Author and Children's Librarian. As the header says, this monthly newsletter will feature:
News – Mine as well as other interesting tidbits
Views – A few photos from my world travels
Stuff You Can Use – A mish-mash of activities, crafts, or whatever I am excited about sharing
If you missed the previous newsletters, you can click the button on the left sidebar on my website to catch up or click here: Newsletters
Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I hope you will find something to inform and entertain you.
~ NEWS ~
With Passover running from March 27 to April 3, I thought it would be a good idea to post some news about a Passover book. Although I have not yet published a book about this holiday, I do have a couple of picture books out on submission. Hopefully, I will be able to report later this year that I have sold them!
Meanwhile, I can mention two picture books that were published last year. One was the Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the picture book category, Welcoming Elijah, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated Susan Gall. A short summary of the book appeared in my February newsletter. The second is a story about a holiday celebrated in Morocco to mark the end of Passover called A Sweet Meeting on Mimouna Night written by Allison Ofanansky and illustrated by Rotem Teplow. I had never heard of Mimouna before, so it was nice to read about this lovely tradition. There's also a recipe for treat called moufletot.
One of the Notable STBA books in the middle grade category, Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar, incudes a Passover Seder that is modified to incorporate native foods from the island. In that scene, neighbors from various ethnic backgrounds come together to celebrate freedom. It's my favorite chapter in the book.
I'm looking forward to seeing the new holiday books that come out this year.
But wait, there's more!
Last month, I mentioned that the Youth Media Awards were announced at the American Library Association MidWinter meeting in January. But there are other organizations that honor outstanding books for kids and teens, too. One is the Boston Globe / Horn Book Awards, which were announced in October 2020. You can read about the books that were chosen by clicking Boston Globe - Horn Book Awards
On February 18, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators held an online gala to announce their Golden Kit Awards in several categories. You can look up the finalists and winders by checking Golden Kite Winners
This month, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite middle grade series.
It begins with Greenglass House by Kate Milford (2014)
The story takes place in an old inn called Greenglass House, which stands atop a steep hill in an unusual town called Nagspeake. Milo and his parents run the inn, which has an intriguing history and is frequently host to smugglers. This story begins as five unexpected guests arrive. Soon, items are stolen and Milo finds himself at the heart of several mysteries. With the help of a new friend named Meddy, Milo uses his knowledge of the house and his skills of observation to find the missing objects, piece together the strange history of the building, and discover a secret about the legendary folk hero who used to live there.
The book has several sequels and prequels, and all are riveting reads.
Ghosts of Greenglass House (2017) has Milo and Meddy solving a mystery involving some old and new characters and uncovering more secrets about the house, Nagspeake, and its inhabitants.
Prequels include The Left-Handed Fate (2017) and Bluecrowne (2018) which feature Lucy Bluecrowne, daughter of the privateer who built Greenglass House.
I just finished reading a companion book that takes place in Nagspeake called Thief Knot (2020). In this story, Marzana, who had a smaller role in Ghosts of Greenglass House, is the main character. She mobilizes a group of kids to look for a kidnapped girl, with lots of plot twists along the way. Some characters from the Greenglass books pop up and add to the fun.
Next on my reading list is The Raconteur's Commonplace Book, published in January 2021, which ties together the stories from the previous books.
Fans of steampunk, mysteries, storytelling, the supernatural, and swashbuckling adventure will enjoy these intricately-plotted books as much as I do!
You probably know that March is Women's History Month. But did you know it is also National Caffeine Awareness Month?
According to the Every Day's a Holiday Calendar, other noteworthy dates in March (besides St. Patrick's Day) include:
March 5 – National Cheese Doodle Day
March 9 – False Teeth Day
March 10 – International Bagpipe Day
March 14 – Learn About Butterflies Day
March 15 – National Peanut Butter Lovers Day
March 20 – Won't You Be My Neighbor Day and National Alien Abduction Day
March 22 – National Goof-Off Day
March 26 – National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day
March 28 – Something on a Stick Day
March 31 – Dance Marathon Day
~ VIEWS ~
This month's tour takes us to Lima, Peru. On March 3, 2018, my husband, John, and I visited the Fountains of Lima, which claims to have the greatest number of water fountains of any park in the world. We arrived just before sunset, and took our first photos at the Heart Bridge entrance to the park.
Our next stop was at this Pyramid Fountain, which has streams of water shooting up from 3 side to form a 3D triangle.
The whimsical Teapot Fountain was made from carefully- trimmed topiary bushes.
We got to the Flower Spout Fountain as the sun was beginning to set.
In the center of the park, kids were playing in another fountain.
Sunset as we approached the Bridge Fountain.
Here we are, standing outside the Bridge Fountain.
And here's a view from inside as we walked under it.
Remember the fountain where the kids were playing? Here it is again, lit up after the sun set.
There was a long row of waterspouts called the Projection Fountain. People stood all around it to watch a fantastic light show accompanied by music.
Next, John and I posed in front of the Angel Fountain.
The park is a popular site for weddings. Imagine a bride and groom walking down this row of columns to the wedding fountain for some spectacular wedding photos!
The Wedding Fountain.
The park is a popular spot for families and can be enjoyed during the day or evening. If you ever go to Lima, Peru, see it for yourself!
~ STUFF YOU CAN USE ~
With Passover beginning the evening of March 27, it's time to pull out my favorite holiday recipe. We turn ounce again to The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan (Schocken Books, 1979) where we find the well-worn page for Mrs. Feinberg's Vegetable Kugel. This is not your typical noodle or even potato dish. And although it is a side dish to the main meal, it's actually sweet enough to serve as dessert. Over the years, I've made this for breakfast buffets and other occasions, because it's too good to eat only once a year and I get lots of requests for it. The dish is already vegan and I've also adapted it to make a gluten-free version.
Here are the ingredients:
1 cup grated raw apple
1 cup grated raw sweet potato
1 cup grated raw carrot
(You can use a food processor, but don't grind the food to mush.)
1 cup matzah cake meal
(The cake meal is finer than regular matzah meal. You can also substitute gluten-free flour or regular flour for non-Passover meals.)
¾ cup sugar
7 tablespoons of soft margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground ginger (My addition because I love ginger! You can add or adjust the spices to your own liking.)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Grease a 10" casserole, preferably one that has a cover.
Mix all the ingredients well.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Cover with the lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Take out the casserole and remove the cover.
Raise the heat to 350° and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The kugel will resemble a dense, spicy carrot cake. Serve it as a side dish and enjoy!
That will do it for this month.
Until next time, remember to amuse your muse!