Before Halloween I always make a stuffed-with-leaves “person” to greet trick-or-treaters. The head has been a red playground ball ever since the gruesome year squirrels gnawed on a pumpkin head.
As I worked on this year’s ball-headed person, I had high hopes for the Red Sox winning the American League Championship and going on to the World Series! Alas, my hopes were dashed when the Houston Astros were the victors instead.
But I’m grateful the team got farther than anyone thought. Red Sox Guy is still smiling by my front steps. Perhaps he’s remembering players shouting with joy every time they pushed a home run-hitting teammate through the dugout in a laundry cart. The memory makes me smile, too.
Recently, I contributed to a lovely website called Storied Stuff, with short essays about a pictured treasured object. I’ve pasted mine below, about my beloved grandmother’s doll. Here’s the link.
Marushka is about 130-years-old.
Years before the Russian Revolution, my maternal grandmother, Rebecca, schlepped this doll from Kiev to New York City. Grandma was smart, opinionated, and big-hearted. I was crazy about her and her cooking; she believed in copious butter. When she visited, I would wake up early and hurry to her pull-out loveseat. Nestled against her, I requested stories—how she survived smallpox as a baby, what my mother was like as a child, and my favorites: why she despised certain relatives.
But in Grandma’s eyes my sister and I could do no wrong. I once found an immersion coil on my father’s desk and plugged it in underneath, where it burned a hole in new carpeting. My father chided me, but Grandma chided him, claiming my scare had been enough punishment. She and I were passengers when my new driver sister missed an exit and began backing up on the Long Island Expressway. I shrieked, “You can’t do that!” and she abandoned her strategy before we got rear-ended.
At home my mother asked about my sister’s driving. “She drives beautiful,” Grandma reported.
Grandma died when I was 16. Her loss felt unbearable. In my recurrent dreams she was drowning and I saved her. In the daytime I might spot a white-haired lady with a certain gait and imagine, “Grandma’s alive, just living with another family.”
Grandma’s and my love for each other was warm and fierce.
Long before my daughter was born, I knew her name, Rebecca.
…I signed a contract for my next book!
The title is still a secret. Shhhh…
But I can say that it’s a picture book and…
…it will be published in the fall of 2022! Which really isn’t that far off!
Yes, today I’m recommending a board book and a half. What I mean is that it’s huuuuuge, in size and what it covers! Caution! Road Signs Ahead by prolific, award-winning author Toni Buzzeo has realistically shaped pages of 35 signs that the littlest readers can touch and explore. For slightly older readers, the explanations of what the signs mean are easy to understand.
As soon as I learned about this new book, I ordered a copy for my oldest grandchild. Then, when I read it, I bought one for a younger grandchild. And then, I ordered another for a young grandniece. Just because I know they’ll all love it!
My husband and me with our first 2 copies
Asked to be a Guest Author for Red Hill Elementary School’s Readathon (Santa Ana, California), I responded with an enthusiastic Yes! And thanks to technology, from 3,000 miles away, I was able to share screen shots as I read my picture book THE TROUBLE WITH CAULIFLOWER and then read the first chapter of my middle grade novel ME AND THE WEIRDOS.
I had fun voicing the characters, and afterwards the students—who apparently enjoyed listening!—got to ask questions and make comments. Two of my favorites were:
“What was your main purpose for writing this Book?”
“You’re a very good author.”
Introducing the story of Mortimer the koala bear, who’s convinced that eating cauliflower brings him bad luck the next day
My turn to listen to my charming listeners’ comments
I just have to give shout-outs to two fabulous new picture books!
The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest is a picture book biography about an innovative, never-give-up scientist who studies and makes fascinating discoveries high up in the rain forest canopy. Her challenges, creative solutions, and passion to save the rain forest will engage readers of all ages. The text by author Heather Lang manages to be factual and lyrical at the same time. And the illustrations, by Jana Christy, are breathtaking.
The Animals Would Not Sleep! is a picture book about a little boy facing bedtime with a bunch of unruly animals. Author Sara Levine cleverly models sorting techniques (an important mathematical concept) for young readers, while at the same time offering a sweet, entertaining story. The illustrations, by Marta Alvarez Miguen, are charming. This book is already a hit with my grandchildren!
Since my husband and I are spending more time at home than usual this winter, thanks to a certain virus, it’s a special joy to spot wildlife we don’t normally see, right out our window. Here are 2 recent yard guests that visited at a safe social distance.
We usually get downy woodpeckers, but this striking red-bellied fellow has been a “frequent flyer” (haha)
When he eats his lunch while we eat ours, it’s the closest we come to hosting a dining companion these days.
And then this furry creature came along. Thanks for stopping by!
I really lucked out when my poem in the new Writers’ Loft anthology Friends and Anemones (see previous post) was brought to life by the talented illustrator and writer Doreen Buchinski. My poem is about beautiful, energetic birds, Red Knots, that migrate record-breaking distances each year and rely on horseshoe crab eggs for sustenance.
Doreen and Charlotte Sheer have poems on the same spread. See for yourself how they all came together: