Book review: Mooncakes by Loretta Seto and Renné Benoit

Book Reviews

(Par ici en français!!)

I was very excited to order this book through the inter-library loans (I’m not getting over how cool it is to have access to so many books for free!), and even more excited to read it when it finally arrived! This week, I’d like to recommend Mooncakes, written by Loretta Seto and Illustrated by Renné Benoit.

I was very excited about this book as it was the Harvest Moon Festival in many Asian countries a few weeks ago. I am not particularly familiar with any of the traditions of this holiday, except that my mom would buy or we would receive mooncakes as gifts, so I was looking forward to learning more. This particular book features a Chinese family and we learn about the Harvest Moon celebration as they go through the different traditions and folklore surrounding this festival. I particularly enjoyed how the book depicts different traditions like eating mooncakes and lighting up round lanterns but also explains in simple ways why they are important and how they relate to the moon. It made the festival very attractive even if I never celebrated it, and it also raised my curiosity: I now want to know more about this holiday and how it is celebrated in Vietnam.

I also very much enjoyed the different stories that are told to the little girl we follow through the book. Her parents share some folk tales that are all linked to the moon. Chinese folk tales have such incredibly rich symbolism and are wonderful stories to explore. It was fascinating to read these stories.

Finally, I also enjoyed the soft illustrations by Renné Benoit. I particularly love how she was able to add elements of Chinese culture and visual arts like costumes and motifs while still remaining true to her style of illustration. Her illustrations are so clear and easy to understand but also rich and so warm. They give the book a cozy and joyful atmosphere. It was a real pleasure to read this book and to take the time to explore each image.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful book to discover the Harvest Moon Festival as a kid and adult alike. The illustrations are warm and inviting, and the text is rich and educational. This is such a wonderfully well done book that is sure to enchant all readers.

Mooncakes by Loretta Seto and Renné Benoit, Orca Book Publishers


 

Book review: Abécédaire des métiers imaginaires, by Anne Montel

(Malheureusement, ce livre n’est pas encore disponible en français au moment de l’écriture de ce billet.)

J’étais très excitée de commander ce livre par le biais des prêts interbibliothèques (je n’en reviens pas de pouvoir accéder à tant de livres gratuitement !), et encore plus excitée de le lire quand il est enfin arrivé ! Cette semaine, je vous recommande Mooncakes, écrit par Loretta Seto et illustré par Renné Benoit.

J’étais très contente de recevoir ce livre car c’était la fête de la Lune des Moissons dans de nombreux pays asiatiques il y a quelques semaines. Je ne connais pas particulièrement les traditions de cette fête, si ce n’est que ma mère achetait ou que nous recevions des gâteaux de lune en cadeau, alors j’avais hâte d’en apprendre davantage. Ce livre met en scène une famille chinoise qui nous fait partager les différentes traditions et le folklore qui entourent la fête de la moisson. J’ai particulièrement apprécié la façon dont le livre dépeint différentes traditions, comme les gâteaux de lune et les lanternes rondes, tout en expliquant de manière simple leur importance et leur lien avec la lune. Cela a rendu le festival très attrayant, même si je ne l’ai jamais célébré, et cela a également éveillé ma curiosité : J’ai maintenant envie d’en savoir plus sur cette fête et sur la façon dont elle est célébrée au Viêt Nam.

J’ai également beaucoup apprécié les différentes histoires qui sont racontées à la petite fille que nous suivons tout au long du livre. Ses parents partagent des contes populaires qui sont tous liés à la lune. Les contes populaires chinois ont un symbolisme incroyablement riche et sont des histoires merveilleuses à explorer. C’était fascinant de lire ces histoires.

Enfin, j’ai également apprécié les douces illustrations de Renné Benoit. J’aime particulièrement la façon dont elle a pu ajouter des éléments de la culture et des arts visuels chinois, comme des costumes et des motifs, tout en restant fidèle à son style d’illustration. Ses illustrations sont si claires et si faciles à comprendre, mais aussi si riches et si chaleureuses. Elles donnent au livre une atmosphère chaleureuse et joyeuse. Ce fut un réel plaisir de lire ce livre et de prendre le temps d’explorer chaque image.

Dans l’ensemble, je pense qu’il s’agit d’un livre merveilleux pour découvrir la fête de la moisson, que l’on soit enfant ou adulte. Les illustrations sont chaleureuses et invitantes, et le texte est riche et éducatif. C’est un livre merveilleusement bien fait qui enchantera certainement tous les lecteurs.

Mooncakes de Loretta Seto et Renné Benoit, Orca Book Publishers

Weekly news: June 2nd, 2021

weekly news

(This is a news letter I sent out. If you’d like to receive fresh news every week, sign up here! The full newsletter contains surprises and is delivered once a week to your mailbox. Et elle est également en français!)

I hope you are all doing well!

I’m done with last week’s painting! I was really intimidated, but it ended up taking less time that what I had expected and planned. Here’s another fun fact in case you’re still trying to guess what plant it might be:

Since I bloom in the early Spring, I use a rotten meat aroma to attract flies and other pollinators.

If you want more details, head over to my portfolio for more on this piece!

Now, I’m going to start the third painting in my indigenous plants of Canada series. I’m excited about this one because I think it’ll match Sarracenia and Trillium quite nicely. Here’s a fun fact on this pretty amazing flowers:

To make sure pollinators get really well coated in pollen, my flowers form a tunnel with an entry and an exit. The bee doesn’t have a choice as to which way to go!

Pretty fascinating stuff, no?

In other news, we’ve just had our first garden grown strawberry! It was so good, and I can’t wait for more!

New in store

A new card featuring my latest painting and its accompanying print are now available in the store! I’ve also added some new colouring letter paper pages for all of you letter writing friends.The lily of the valley painting is available as a greeting card! 3 versions are available, so I hope you’ll go take a look!

Inspiration

A small book full of details and colours 🙂

Head over to the blog for more details!

Youtube

Here’s my month of May! I take you on a tour of our newly set up garden 🙂 I can’t wait to update you on it as the season progresses.

A small treat…

I’ve completely fallen in love with this artist’s work! How magical!

Happy October!

New in the Portfolio

Yesterday, I realized that when I put new posts in my portfolio, they don’t appear here… So I wanted to share these two pieces I added a few weeks ago that are perfect for October! One is a celebration for pumpkin! And the other, a thinking fox! Click on the image to see more details on each piece 🙂

Wishing you all a lovely autumn!

I hope you’ll go take a look and like what you see 🙂

Weekly news: May 26, 2021

weekly news

(This is a news letter I sent out. If you’d like to receive fresh news every week, sign up here! The full newsletter contains surprises and is delivered once a week to your mailbox. Et elle est également en français!)

I hope you are all doing well!

Things have been a lot more quiet on my side this week. I’ve started working on a new painting, and I’m excited as well as intimidated (once again) by this new plant friend. Here’s a hint to help you guess which one it is:

It is a native (to Canada and elsewhere) Spring bloom that takes advantage of the lack of leaves on trees to access light and to complete its entire life cycle before becoming dormant until the following Spring.

Can you guess what it is?

I’m struggling a bit with managing my energy levels at the moment, so this one is a short and sweet newsletter! I’ll be back with more content next week, don’t fear 🙂 In the meantime, I’m sipping on a matcha latte to get me through the afternoon because I really want to work on my painting. It’s always difficult to select what’s essential and what can wait, but I find that identifying just one task to complete is helpful. Today’s task: complete the first layers of the plant’s leaves. So, I’ll be working in green this afternoon!

Once thing is for sure, this little lady knows how to rest!

New in store

The lily of the valley painting is available as a greeting card! 3 versions are available, so I hope you’ll go take a look!

Inspiration

Beauty is in the details, some say. It couldn’t be truer with Slinkachu’s miniature work!

A Small Treat

If you are a Harry Potter fan and have trouble falling asleep, this is for you! What potterhead wouldn’t love to visit the Burrow and the charming Weasleys? I love this sleep story because it’s all about the details, and it always sends me off to a peaceful night.

Book review: Abécédaire des métiers imaginaires, par Anne Montel

Book Reviews

(Over here in English!)

Après avoir lu Chaussette il y a quelques semaines, j’ai tout de suite réservé ce joli album églament par Anne Montel. L’abécédaire des métiers imaginaires est finalement arrivé par le prêt inter-bibliothèque et j’ai pu explorer ce joli livre cette fois entièrement réalisé par l’illustratrice Anne Montel.

Avec ce livre, on parcourt l’alphabet, une lettre à la fois, à la découverte de métiers fabuleux comme empêcheur de tourner en rond, marchand de sable ou retrouveuse de pain perdu. Chaque métier est accompagné d’une description comico-poétique et d’une illustration. J’ai adoré ce livre car il est complètement insensé et parfaitement imaginaire! On ne peut s’empêcher de se demander quel autre métier imaginaire se cache dans nos vies de tous les jours. Avec des textes riches d’absurdités et de détails loufoques, on ne peut que sourire et s’évader dans cet univers farfelu le temps de la lecture.

Les illustrations détaillées et adorables apportent également beaucoup à ce livre et mette encore une fois les talents d’illustratrice d’Anne Montel. Chaque planche regorge de détails amusants. J’ai beaucoup aimé prendre le temps de bien regarder toutes ces illustrations tellement brillantes et remplie de magie. Bien que chaque planche soit différente, on reconnait facilement les personnages ludiques et les décors facilement identifiables. Cela aide vraiment a créer un univers facile à comprendre bien que rempli de travailleurs extraordinaires. Puisqu’il s’agit d’un abécédaire, il est amusant d’ouvrir le livre à n’importe quelle page pour une petite tranche d’humour et de fantaisie.

Ce livre est tout simplement magique! J’ai adoré me plonger dans cet abécédaire très imaginaire et un peu insensé qu’Anne Montel a créé. Une lecture rafraichissante et amusante, cet album fera un très beau cadeau pour les jeunes lecteurs ainsi qu’aux adultes qui ont besoin d’une petite dose d’humour. Ce livre donne envie d’inventer son propre abécédaire imaginaire!

Abécédaire des métiers imaginaires, Anne Montel, Little Urban


 

Book review: Abécédaire des métiers imaginaires, by Anne Montel

(Unfortunately, this book is only available in French at the time of writing.)

After reading Chaussette a few weeks ago, I immediately reserved this lovely book by Anne Montel. L’abécédaire des métiers imaginaires (Imaginary Jobs ABC Book) finally arrived through the inter-library loan and I was able to explore this lovely book this time entirely by the illustrator Anne Montel.

With this book, we go through the alphabet, one letter at a time, discovering fabulous jobs such as the no-nonsense watcher, the sandman or the French toast finder. Each job is accompanied by a comic-poetic description and an illustration. I loved this book because it is completely crazy and perfectly imaginary! You can’t help but wonder what other imaginary job is hiding in our everyday lives. With texts rich in absurdities and goofy details, one can only smile and escape into this slightly wacky universe while reading.

The detailed and adorable illustrations also add a lot to this book and once again showcase Anne Montel’s illustration skills. Each board is full of fun details. I really enjoyed taking the time to look at all the illustrations that are so bright and filled with magic. Although each board is different, it is easy to recognize the playful characters and settings. This really helps to create a world that is easy to understand yet full of extraordinary workers. Since this is a alphabet book, it’s fun to open the book to any page for a little slice of humor and whimsy.

This book is simply magical! I loved immersing myself in this very imaginative and somewhat nonsensical alphabet book that Anne Montel has created. A refreshing and fun read, this book will make a great gift for young readers as well as adults who need a little touch of humor. This book makes you want to invent your own imaginary alphabet book!

Abécédaire des métiers imaginaires, Anne Montel, Little Urban

Weekly news: May 19, 2021

weekly news

(This is a news letter I sent out. If you’d like to receive fresh news every week, sign up here! The full newsletter contains surprises and is delivered once a week to your mailbox. Et elle est également en français!)

I hope you are all doing well!

It is finally past the last frost date over here which means that we spent the weekend gardening! It was really nice to put all our seedlings outside! It is such a pleasure to watch them settle in and grow now. Around the garden, our tulips are finally in full bloom. They are simply wonderful and a lot more long lasting than what I thought. My favourites are the bright red orange because they are stunning but also because they smell like oranges! It’s a delight for all the senses!

In the Atelier, I’ve painted a Lily of the valley for a custom order. It was really nice to try this plant again after several months of practice. I find it’s a really hard one to paint because the white flowers are so delicate. Still, it’s always nice to tackle a challenge like this! And, since our lily of the valley plants are not yet in bloom, it is nice to have this little sprig to brighten my desk!

New in store

The lily of the valley painting is available as a greeting card! 3 versions are available, so I hope you’ll go take a look!

Inspiration

After last week’s forest, we’re jumping into water this week!

Head over to the blog for a full review!

A Small Treat

From what I understood, these thread books were used by Chinese women to store their embroidery threads. It is so intricate and beautiful!
This blog post has really fun pictures of different ones 🙂

Book review: A Cluster of Cats, by Sheena Swirlz

Book Reviews

(Par ici en français!)

Today, I thought I’d mix things up a bit, and share the first zine I ever bought with you. I first met Sheena Swirlz when I was in university. I really loved to study in the greenhouses situated on the roof of one of the downtown buildings, and as she was the coordinator at the time, I got to talk to her a few times. She is a very active community organizer, and it was always very interesting to talk with her. She also created many zines, and I thought I’d share A Cluster of Cats today!

I love this zine so much! It was my first encounter with this format, and it got me hooked! Sheena presents different groups of animals with their names. English is not my first language, and as a learner I remember being astonished to learn expressions like: “a bike of ants”, “a troop of baboons”, or “an army of frogs”. I thought the words used to describe groups of animals were strange and comical. In this cute zine, Sheena demonstrates just this by drawing the different animal formations.

I really like this zine because I got to discover many expressions I didn’t know. Sheena’s drawings are also very funny and accurate which makes it a pleasure to flip through. I also love how diverse her choice of animals is. This zine is intended as a colouring book, but I haven’t jumped on that yet. In true zine fashion, this little booklet is photocopied and stapled. I love the DIY feel of this booklet!

Overall, I think this was the perfect introductory zine to get to know this format. I remember feeling so happy after bringing it home, and it is still one that I come back to often when I’m in need of inspiration and comfort. The simplicity and richness of this little booklet always cheers me up and makes me want to grab my pencils and start drawing. I think kids, ESL learners and adults alike will find this little book funny and instructive. It really sparks curiosity! I’m not sure what events Sheena is now organizing, but she left her information on available zines on her blog. I also leave this link to one of her blog posts that is so inspiring and motivating too!

A Cluster of Cats, by Sheena Swirlz


 

Book review: A Cluster of Cats, par Sheena Swirls

(Ce petit zine est seulement disponible en anglais, mais il est très amusant pour tous ceux et toutes celles qui connaissent un peu l’anglais!)

Aujourd’hui, j’ai pensé que je pourrais varier un peu les plaisirs et partager avec vous le premier zine que j’ai acheté. J’ai rencontré Sheena Swirlz pour la première fois lorsque j’étais à l’université. J’aimais beaucoup étudier dans les serres situées sur le toit d’un des bâtiments du centre-ville, et comme elle était la coordinatrice à l’époque, j’ai pu lui parler à quelques reprises. Elle est une organisatrice communautaire très active, et il était toujours très intéressant de parler avec elle. Elle a également créé de nombreux zines, et j’ai pensé partager A Cluster of Cats aujourd’hui !

J’aime tellement ce zine ! C’était ma première rencontre avec ce format, et il m’a rendu accro ! Sheena présente différents groupes d’animaux avec leurs noms. L’anglais n’est pas ma première langue, et en tant qu’apprenante, je me souviens avoir été étonnée d’apprendre des expressions comme : “un vélo de fourmis”, “une troupe de babouins”, ou “une armée de grenouilles”. Je trouvais que les mots utilisés pour décrire des groupes d’animaux étaient étranges et comiques. Dans ce joli zine, Sheena en fait la démonstration en dessinant les différentes formations d’animaux.

J’aime beaucoup ce zine car j’ai pu y découvrir de nombreuses expressions que je ne connaissais pas. Les dessins de Sheena sont également très drôles et précis, ce qui fait que c’est un plaisir de le feuilleter. J’aime aussi la diversité de son choix d’animaux. Ce zine est conçu comme un livre de coloriage, mais je n’ai pas encore sauté sur l’occasion. Dans la plus pure tradition des zines, ce petit livret est photocopié et agrafé. J’adore l’aspect DIY de ce livret !

Dans l’ensemble, je pense que c’était le zine d’introduction parfait pour apprendre à connaître ce format. Je me souviens m’être sentie si heureuse après l’avoir ramené chez moi, et c’est toujours un zine auquel je reviens lorsque j’ai besoin d’inspiration et de réconfort. La simplicité et la richesse de ce petit livret me remontent toujours le moral et me donnent envie de prendre mes crayons et de commencer à dessiner. Je pense que les enfants, les élèves d’anglais langue seconde et les adultes trouveront ce petit livre drôle et instructif. Il suscite vraiment la curiosité ! Je ne suis pas sûre des événements que Sheena organise actuellement, mais elle a laissé ses informations sur les zines disponibles sur son blog. Je vous laisse également ce lien vers l’un de ses articles de blog qui est aussi très inspirant et motivant !

A Cluster of Cats, by Sheena Swirlz

Weekly news: May 12, 2021

weekly news

(This is a news letter I sent out. If you’d like to receive fresh news every week, sign up here! The full newsletter contains surprises and is delivered once a week to your mailbox. Et elle est également en français!)

I hope you are all doing well!

I hope your week is treating you well. This week, I spent some time researching information on Litha, which is coming up at the end of June to celebrate the Summer Solstice. It’s been so interesting to dive into folk tales and traditions. It was also very relaxing to work on a calligraphy piece. As I mentioned before, there is something so soothing in working slowly on a piece like this one. Because you need to slow down, this type of work is almost therapeutic.

And to keep my spirits up, I’ve been listening to a lot of K-pop (Korean pop music). It’s a bit specific, but there is something so relaxing in listening to romantic pop music in a foreign language. It got me curious, so I looked for V-pop (Vietnamese pop music). Now, I’ve grown up surrounded by Vietnamese music, but it had been a while since I listened to current Vietnamese music. Well, I’m now a big V-pop fan! It’s so relaxing and deliciously lighthearted! As I’m writing this, I’m listening to this song on repeat.

As for the atelier, I’ve been researching different plants for my next painting. I’m keeping up on the theme of Canadian wildflowers. I’d like to have another set of three. It’s really interesting to learn about different plants and to see how diverse and rich our environment is. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve selected the next two plants!

In the meantime, my seedlings are so impatient to go outside, they are actually flowering  indoors! Only a few more days before we take them to the garden. I was so happy to have my first harvest of calendula and tulsi for my morning tea!

New in store

The Litha card is now available at the shop! Litha celebrates the Summer Solstice, June 21 in the Northern hemisphere. It is the perfect time to rejoice, make plans, and celebrate on the longest day of the year!

I’ve also added some pretty stickers for your planners and letters 🙂

Inspiration

Another magical forest 🙂

Head over to the blog for a full review!

In the books…

It’s been a while since I shared a novel recommendation here. I finished When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller yesterday night, and it is such a good one! It is a middle grade book, so it is quite the easy read. Don’t let that fool you! The book follows Lily who moves to live with her Halmoni (grandmother in Korean). She is soon met with a giant tigress right out of the Korean folktales her Halmoni told her as a child. It is a fascinating read that takes the reader through different traditional Korean stories while also exploring the themes of coming of age, being bi-racial, and identity. I loooved this book and devoured it in two evenings. I really hope you’ll check it out!

A Small Treat

Can you imagine working on such a magical project?