The Myth of the Tongue Cut Sparrow

Kuniyoshi did a woodcut of a famous japanese folk tale of the legend of the tongue cut sparrow. I am sort of fascinated with it–the print and the story–after I got to see a copy of the print at the NY Armory Print Fair this past fall.

The story goes like this–actually I thought it was slightly different but have been reading more and this version makes more sense:

One morning, a poor woodcutter went into the mountains to cut timber and saw an injured sparrow. He took it back to his home to nurse it back to health. His wife, who wasn’t so nice, was annoyed that he would waste time and food on the sparrow. The old man, undated, continued caring for the bird.

One day, the recovering sparrow ate all of their meager supply of rice. The wife was so angry that she cut out the bird’s tongue and chased it away.

The woodcutter went searching for the bird in the mountains where he had originally found it. Other sparrows greeted him  kindly and led him to his friend, the little sparrow he saved. The sparrow was a wealthy member of his community, and treated him to food and drink. They visited and talked and laughed. When it was time for the woodcutter to take his leave, the sparrow offered him a large basket or a small basket as a thank you gift. The elderly woodcutter chose the small basket. When he arrived home, he opened the basket and found treasure. The not-very-nice-wife, hearing of the existence of a larger basket, ran to the sparrow’s home in the hope of getting more treasure for herself. She was given the larger basket upon her demand, but was warned not to open it before getting home.

She of course opened the basket on the mountain path on the way home. The basket was filled with all the ills of the world, and were unleashed upon her and the whole world, Pandora’s Box-like.

The version of the story I heard at the print fair was a little different. The woodcutter found the injured sparrow (the cut tongue WAS the injury), and nursed it back to health though his wife didn’t like that. They took it together to the sparrow’s home. He was a prince, as it happened, and offered them a small basket and a large basket. The woodcutter liked the small basket, but the greedy wife made him take the larger. They struggled with the basket on the way down the mountain (they were warned not to open it till home, and the wife wanted to open it earlier and they struggled). In the struggle, the basket opens, unleashing all the sins of the world. But in that story, the elderly beneficent woodcutter is harmed as well. Didn’t make as much sense.

ANYWAY, the whole point of my going on about it is that I was reading about it on line and found these fantastic dolls depicting the characters from the story. Apparently there’s a tradition in Japan of making these dolls and tableaus for them to live in:

I can’t give you provenance for the dolls because I don’t know–they were at an auction site and the maker wasn’t listed, nor the date of their construction. But I thought they were too magical not to share!

MUSEUM VISIT: A Color, Punch Out and Play Set!

They’re HERE! My author copies of MUSEUM VISIT: A Color, Punch Out and Play Set have arrived! Super excited!Museum Visit is another high quality product from Pomegranate Publishing like Tea Party: A Color Punch Out and Play Set. Their production standards are extremely exacting, which means they really made me look good–the product design is so lovely (Thanks Pomegranate Designer Carey Hall!), the paper quality and printing are beautiful. SO–I have been playing with it!

Like Tea Party: A Color, Punch Out and Play Set, there are stage sets to set up, in this case, three galleries, and eight card stock pages of colorable museum collectibles to set up.

I have been using my new set of Copic Sketch markers that my brother gave me, but you can use anything to color with–any marker, watercolors, colored pencils, crayons. You can color artwork in frames, and also create your own artwork in blank frames.

The boxed set features:

-a folding play “stage set” with three 16 x 12 inch gallery scenes to color

-eight cardstock pages of colorable collectibles, armor, statues, jewels, paintings, natural history objects and more

-a four page booklet with illustrated instructions, with info about “wonder rooms,” the history of museums, and thoughts about curating your own exhibition.

Museum Visit is available at Pomegranate Publishing:

To kick off 2017 Pomegranate has offered me a special artist promo code to share with friends and fans. Enter PEOT15 at checkout and get 15% savings on the products I have created with Pomegranate. This is a standing offer and does not expire, it just requires a minimum purchase of $10.95.

A Coloring Book Designed for ME by LILA

Inside the front cover…

One of the nicest things that happened to me this year, and as a direct result of making coloring books for parents and kids to color together is that my friend Lila (age 6) designed a coloring book just for me. I am including three pictures from the book here as well as some of my coloring efforts. Thanks, Lila! And grandmother Carolyn, too!

My coloring, with the Copic markers my brother recently gifted me with…

Lila in the rain with puddles…



I am so excited to reveal the new video trailer for LET’S COLOR TOGETHER: SECRET WORLDS (Sourcebooks) by Daniel Levy Music, with voiceovers from Grace Katsivelos and Ada Simon and music “The Raven’s Rock” courtesy of the amazing generosity of the band LUNASA:

This new book brings together face-to-face coloring and all your favorite fantasies about the tiny magical creatures who inhabit the world around us. Sit down with your favorite coloring companion and dream about the fairies, gnomes, talking squirrels and Borrowers, even, who might live inside that intriguing hole in a tree trunk, underneath flowers, or in majestic underwater palaces. Like LET’S COLOR TOGETHER, this book features spreads specifically designed for two people to color and enjoy at once.

Available to order now from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble



GIVEAWAY WINNER of Tea Party Play Set and Colored Pencils!

Congratulations, congratulations to Patricia Hruby Powell, who has won the giveaway drawing for a copy of Tea Party: A Color, Punch Out and Play Set and the beautiful colored pencils so generously donated by Pomegranate! Hurray! 

GIVEAWAY!! Enter to win a TEA PARTY: A Color, Punch Out and Play Set AND Colored Pencils!

ENTER TO WIN A DRAWING of a copy of TEA PARTY: A COLOR, PUNCH OUT AND PLAY SET in time for holiday fun!
Want to win? Here’s how:
Just Leave a comment below to be entered to win a drawing for a play set! That’s it!
The drawing will be held on December 14, 2016, and one winner will be chosen by a computerized random number generator.

With Tea Party: A Color Punch Out and Play Set, you can create your own tea parties by coloring four fancy teapots with matching teacups, napkins, utensils, and an array of tempting tea treats including scones, cucumber sandwiches and fairy cakes). Set up your tea party in front of one of the three color-able tea settings: Afternoon Tea, English Manor House Tea, and Tea with Furry Friends, and invite your friends to play along!

This boxed set features:

img_2507-copy-A folding play “stage set” with three 6 x 12 inch tea party scenes to color

-8 cardstock pages of colorable teapots with stands, cups with stands, saucers, lace napkins, a sugar bowl and creamer with stands, a serving plate, utensils and delectable tea faretea-party-a-color-punch-out-and-play-set-12

-4-page booklet with illustrated instructions. The booklet includes some fun history of tea, a bit about manners, and information on various tea meals and tea foods, as well as a simple scone recipe!

Available at to buy from (click these live links) Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, Pomegranate, and various museum stores and tea shops.



The winner of TWO COPIES of my new coloring book from Sourcebooks, LET’S COLOR TOGETHER: SECRET WORLDS  A Shareable Coloring Book for Parents and Kids is….

sw_1-copydrum roll please….


Congratulations, Jennifer! TWO copies of SECRET WORLDS will be wending their way to you!











SECRET WORLDS is available where books are sold, including Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


My wonderful fans and friends send me pictures of their coloring efforts, and I am happy to share them with you! This is just a few to start, some from adults, some from kids. I am honored to receive these pictures and treasure them! And I hope that these books can help bring kids and adults together.

Just today, a friend told me that he daughter and grandson color together and that having exclusive “mom time” and the activity has a “calming effect” on the little boy. And my doctor wrote me to say that she and her teenage daughter spent the weekend coloring together after I gave her a copy of Let’s Color Together, and while they colored, they talked and talked about things they had not been talking about but needed to.


Coloring by the director of services at U of Utah Hospital Patient Family Housing!


Coloring by Lila!


Coloring by Lila and Ganny


Coloring by Pat, who introduced me to GEL PENS: Thanks Pat!


More beautiful coloring by Pat


Coloring by Deirdre!


To Lila, from Ganny…


LetsColorTogetherBook_buttonAll of these coloring pages are from LET’S COLOR TOGETHER: A SHAREABLE COLORING BOOK FOR PARENTS AND KIDS!

Available at Amazon:
Purchase Online at Amazon

Barnes and Noble:
Purchase Online at Barnes and Noble

Purchase Online at

Hosting a Tea Party for a Birthday or other Special Occasion

Tea parties are very fashionable these days! Birthday parties for kids work great of course, but also tea party baby and bridal showers. You only have to look at all the Pinterest boards about tea parties to get lots of ideas for tea, treats and decorations. The very best tea party for any age or occasion will include tea and tea treats, and enough fun activities to keep people occupied for a cozy couple of hours.

Activities:teapartyset You can use TEA PARTY: A COLOR, PUNCH OUT AND PLAY SET as the centerpiece and activity focus for your guests. Coloring and talking is fun and easy to do while sipping and snacking. In the box are eight die-cut card stock pages of tea pots,tea cups and tea treats. There are four styles of teapots, cups and saucers to choose from: Woodland (with birds and leaves), Flower Garden (with a variety of posies), Grand Duchy (with crumbling castles and royal crests), and Mystical (with sun, moon and stars). There are paper spoons and napkins to match each style. There are also tea treats to color (fairy cakes, scones and Battenburg cakes), a serving plate, creamer and sugar bowl. Three pop-up scenes include Tea with Furry Friends, Tea at a terrace overlooking a Downton Abbey-like Manor House, and Afternoon Tea. There is plenty to keep a small group occupied coloring. If you feel that each of the participants would want to be sure to color a tea pot of their own, and perhaps take it with them when they leave, you might consider getting more than one Tea Party sets.



When I was little, I LONGED for a silver tea set. I wanted to have a tea set, cute tea snacks. I wanted to “Be Mother” and pour the tea into lovely cups, asking people if they wanted one lump or two. This set has two pots so you can have two kinds of tea (though I suspect one is for coffee, really)

Tea and Teatime Treats:


Consider having two teas, a caffeinated one such as Earl Grey, and an herbal tea that can hold up to added milk and sugar, such as rooibos. Sugar in cube or lump form is fun to have, plus a little pitcher of milk.


A silly teapot, like this one from my friend CC, is perfect for a tea party with kids!


The minimum for treats is scones with butter (or Devonshire Cream, a recipe for MOCK Devonshire Cream is below) and jam, and crustless savory sandwiches. But cookies, cupcakes (known as fairy cakes), bar cookies, even chocolates are nice extras, and fancy.

Scones (my tried and true recipe is in the Tea Party: Color, Punch Out and Play Set box! You can vary the recipe by adding cranberries and ginger, or chocolate chips, or dates and nutmeg, or dried blueberries-YUM)


Devonshire Cream

You can buy the real thing on line, but you can make mock Devonshire cream: Whip an 8 oz. container of heavy whipping cream oil stiff. Add a small container of sour cream and a teaspoon of confectioners sugar. And voila–even my english friends ate this without harrumphing too much.


Tea sandwiches, such as cucumber and cream cheese, crustless, of course.


Yummy cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches made by my friend Sue 🙂

Finally, Favors:

It seems like birthday parties always require a goodie bag these days! If you are having a birthday tea party, this one is set up so that every participant will take away whatever portion of the Tea Party set they colored themselves. If you add a tea blending activity to the party, (…as-and-downloads/), your guests can take home the tea sachets they blended. If you want to give an additional gift to each person, you could spend some time hunting for pretty mismatched teacups and saucers at yard sales or flea markets, and give each child a tea cup and saucer.

To buy a copy of TEA PARTY: A COLOR, PUNCH OUT AND PLAY SET from Pomegranate Publishing, click here. To buy a copy from Barnes and Noble, click here.