First Day in Blanding, Utah

Al and I were so excited to see this sign and realize we had reached our destination, where we would meet the creators of the musical Me and the Krinkles and see it performed!

Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center, which had interesting exhibits and photos about the history of the town, including the courageous Mormon settlers who arrived via the Holei-in-the-Rock Expedition. We also learned that the town is near two Native American reservations, adding to the diverse culture of the area.
When the friendly staff member behind the desk asked where Al and I were from, and we said Massachusetts, she exclaimed, “Are you the author?!” and added, “I’ve heard so much about you.” I won’t lie: I felt like a celeb.

When we checked into our motel, Stone Lizard Lodging, I was also greeted enthusiastically as “the author.”

After our warm welcome, we entered our perfectly lovely room and found a gift basket filled with varied, thoughtful souvenirs and a thank you note from the Perkins and Berretts, the playwrights’ families. I was really touched.

 

 

 

 

 

Later we were enjoying a tasty dinner at Pop’s Burritos when we noticed this poster on the wall! By then my head was so big that I could barely get out the door!                                                            The next day held even more surprises …

Happy Grandparent’s Day!

Two author friends and I have picture books featuring warm grandparent-grandchild relationships, and yesterday we shared them in celebration of Grandparent’s Day at the terrific Barnes and Noble in Framingham, MA.
Ellen Mayer, Toni Buzzeo and I lots of fun interacting with our young audience and their grown-ups and seeing the varied creations children came up with at the crafts tables.

Ellen Mayer with CAKE DAY, Toni Buzzeo with MY BIBI ALWAYS REMEMBERS, and me with WHAT’S UP WITH THIS CHICKEN?

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Toni Buzzeo reads MY BIBI ALWAYS REMEMBERS with expression and enthusiasm!

Ellen Mayer, wearing an apron like the grandma in CAKE DAY, makes sure her audiences sees all the details.

As I happily read WHAT’S UP WITH THIS CHICKEN? my hero of a husband, Al, turns the pages and holds up the pictures (easier for my sore neck!)

I must be reading the part of the book when Trudy the Chicken squawks, screeches, pecks, and flaps. No wonder Al is hiding his face!

After we read, kids headed to the crafts tables. Thank you, Barnes and Noble, Framingham!

More Utah: Onto the Better than Golden Arches

En route from Salt Lake City to Blanding, we spent the night in Moab at a quaint motel, Kokopelli Lodge http://kokopellilodge.com/ It was spotless, a short block from restaurants and shops, and evoked happy memories of motels we stayed in when we were kids.

Our main reason for stopping in Moab was to return to one of our absolute favorite national parks, Arches. Al and I and our children had all fallen in love with Arches back in 1994, and now we were so excited to go back. When we planned this January adventure, we wondered if snow would prevent us from hiking, but there was barely any (far less than back home in Boston), and the temperature was surprisingly mild!
As soon as we arrived in Moab, we drove directly to the park, and as we approached it, we gasped at the gorgeous deep red rock formations, as stunning as we remembered. We went back the next morning (and gasped again) to hike in different sections of the park, and a third time on our drive back from Blanding, to hike on still another trail.

With all that gasping, it’s amazing we could breathe at all!

A Window in Arches National Park

Our favorite formation, The Three Gossips

You see this iconic arch on the license plate, and there it was!

Snow on distant mountains added drama to the views.

Back to Utah…

My posts about Utah were rudely interrupted by some woman, oh, it was me! Now I’m back on the case. When I left off, I was considering whether or not to attend the premiere of the musical based on my middle grade novel published in 1981, Me and the Weirdos. My husband, Al, and I were weighing the hassle of traveling during January from Boston to to Salt Lake City, then driving five and a half hours to Blanding — against our desire to see the musical and meet the young playwrights I had been corresponding with.

In the end, our curiosity and spirit of adventure won out, and we’re so glad it did!

Before heading for southeastern Utah, where the play would be produced, we decided to spend a few days in Salt Lake City, a fascinating city we had never visited. Some sites of particular interest—

Al and I like to check out State Houses when we travel, and Utah’s was gorgeous!

The State House was stunning inside and out.

 

 

Another shot of the State House

Here’s the Family Research Library, where volunteers help you start finding out more about your ancestors. We saw census reports about our grandparents, including what they paid for rent! And we learned the extact dates they arrived in the US.

Wonderful natural history museum, complete with roof top view of mountains.

Magical night time view of Temple Square from our Airbnb

Stunning public library! Last stop before heading for one of our favorite national parks…

Coming Up: Grandparent’s Day!

It’s been a looong time since my last post, but I do have an excuse: Following a rear-ending car accident, I’ve had to limit my time at a keyboard. Usually, I mourn the end of August, but this year I’m hoping September will find me in fine fettle (whatever that is).

I’m looking forward to this event at the wonderful children’s department in the Framingham, MA Barnes & Noble! Stay tuned for more details…

Reading to Savor

It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s just plain yucky. Normally, I love being outside, but not today.
Luckily, I came across some sweet and creative thank you letters from students I visited this past school year. And they warmed my heart…not in a sticky way, but a good way.

Here is a sampling of my favorites:

Yes! I am “amazing and cool”! Wait until I tell my own children!

This student included her own charming illustration of 1 of my books, with a clever, original caption!

A letter that made me happy to learn that my messages came through loud and clear.

And who doesn’t like to have her portrait drawn?

 

 

 

I got a Kick out of Kick Off Summer Reading!

Last week I had the good fortune to be the featured author at Leicester Memorial School’s annual “Kick off to Summer Reading” night.  This fun and ingenious event includes a book swap in which children pick “new to them” books collected from families and the community.

A few months ago I had done 3 sessions on revision at the school, so the students and I were excited to see each other again. I got a chance to meet their parents, sign books, and marvel again at the wonderful literacy initiatives by Principal Tina Boss and other members of the Memorial Schools staff and faculty.
To sweeten the deal, I got to eat some delicious pizza and baked goods!

Happy summer to all!

How lovely to see oneself in the limelight!

Signing DON’T CALL ME SIDNEY, about a poetry-writing pig

Happily explaining the origins of WHAT’S UP WITH THIS CHICKEN?

Chatting with students and parents was lots of fun.

Signing a copy of Confessions of an Orange Octopus 

Talented Students!

Recently, I had the fun task of helping choose the winners of The Authors Award for Excellence in Imaginative Fiction for students at Minuteman Regional Technical High School in Lexington, MA. Prior to convening, panel members read 16 entries by juniors.

Then we discussed each story as a group. We were impressed by the quality of the writing. The stories, in a variety of genres, were imaginative, entertaining, interesting, and often riveting. It wasn’t easy to select the 3 winners! We eventually chose two stories tied for first place and a second place story.

Congratulations to the winners, to all the writers, and to Minuteman Regional Technical High School, for fostering interest in creative writing through this terrific competition.

Drum roll…The winners!

Cary Library: The Place to Be

Last week I got to share several of my books with young listeners at Cary Memorial Library, a jewel in Lexington, MA. Below are some photos, courtesy of my husband, Alan Ticotsky, who kindly shlepps along with me to my author events, enduring the umpteenth readings of my familiar stories and capturing candid shots.

My grandson, Caleb, spots a familiar woman on the library poster. Could that be Grammy? As you can see, we were both delighted.

 

Volunteers reenact scenes from WHAT’S UP WITH THIS CHICKEN?

Multi-tasking young’uns listen to me read DON’T CALL ME SIDNEY while working on baby chick crafts

Meet the Author!

…that would be me! The wonderful children’s department in my local library, Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA, is hosting me for a Meet the Author program, next Saturday, May 12th at 3 PM.

My plan is to read WHAT’S UP WITH THE CHICKEN? followed by a reenactment of key scenes by volunteers. After I read DON’T CALL ME SIDNEY, I’ll do rhyming games inspired by the story of Sidney the pig’s poetic aspirations. Then I’ll offer signed copies of these and other books. It should be fun!