I continued my string of picture books with Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster, the story of a purple gorilla who shops for Hanukkah presents at the last minute and ends up buying her animal friends inappropriate gifts designed to make young readers giggle. Think jogging suit for a turtle.
When I brought up the subject of dedicating the book, both my children said, “Judy Kleinerman!” My response: “Of course!”
Hence, this dedication to my dear friend:
You see, Judy Kleinerman and I have been friends forever. It’s true. Just ask us. We were friends even before we were born…because our moms were pregnant together. We grew up in the same town, went to summer camp together, had countless sleepovers with many a giggle loop. And now we both live in the Boston area. Judy grew up to be Dr. Judy — a hematologist and oncologist. See?
As the dedication says, she comes to our house every Hanukkah for a party featuring my husband’s latkes. And her presence makes the celebration warmer and brighter…for everyone!
Years ago I would use a pumpkin for the head of my Welcome, Trick or Treaters! character. But two years in a row, squirrels gnawed on the pumpkin, transforming the figure from friendly to downright gruesome. Now a red playground ball with a smiling Sharpie face serves as the benevolent, inedible head.
Here’s this year’s creation:
Chef Ball-erino is ready to greet trick-or-treaters.
In my picture book Don’t Call Me Sidney, a pig who aspires to be a poet can’t find a rhyme for his name, except “kidney,” and changes his name to Joe. But the absent-minded Sidney keeps forgetting that he’s now Joe, and his friends and his mother, who named him after his great great great grandfather who invented the mop, are horrified by the name change. Eventually, Sidney comes up with a crowd-pleasing compromise and continues to follow his poetic muse.
I dedicated this book to my son, Charlie, with 3 adjectives that describe him.
Since then Charlie has become a kind, wise, and hilarious dad to two children, my fabulous grandson and granddaughter!
Impossible not to smile when I look at this photo!
My sixth book The Trouble With Cauliflower is about a koala bear who’s convinced that eating this particular vegetable, whose taste he happens to like, gives him bad luck the next day. It’s a fun depiction of self-fulfilling prophesy, gorgeously illustrated by Jim Harris.
Before this, most of my books had been novels, so Cauliflower was my first picture book in many years.
I dedicated it to my daughter, Becky.
The reason for calling her “my sunshine” is that, well, she is.
And now Becky is mom to her sunshine, my granddaughter Gabby.
See what I mean?
We were pleased to have a nice crop of milkweed plants in our yard this year because we know that Monarch butterfly caterpillars depend on them. Recently, we saw these gorgeous Monarch caterpillars across the patio from the milkweed, chowing down on a different plant!
A couple of days later all the leaves had been eaten, with no sign of the caterpillars. Had a hungry bird eaten them? We hoped not.
A few days later, a very observant 7 year old neighbor spotted this tiny chrysalis!!!! almost hidden among the leaves of yet a different plant! The same color as its surrounding leaves, it has tiny gold-colored beads encircling it, like a necklace around a cylinder. We had never even seen a chrysalis in the wild before!
The chrysalis is still hanging in (sorry, couldn’t resist), but we had a very colorful and welcome visitor, feasting (quite appropriately) on our butterfly bush: a Monarch butterfly! Apparently, there were other Monarch caterpillars and chrysalises around!
We’re checking on the chrysalis daily and wondering when it will release its butterfly!
This morning we saw a happy ending to what could have been a very sad children’s book.
Earlier in the summer a mama turkey with 3 babies were frequent visitors to our yard. Then she showed up with just one baby and limping, likely the result of an animal attack on her and her family.
But this morning she showed up in the company of another female with 3 smaller babies!
A communal arrangement with a happy ending!!! Go turkeys!!
ArtBeat Festival in Davis Square, Somerville, MA is a fun annual event with a variety of musical acts, children’s activities, art vendors, and food. This year, four fellow children’s book authors and I will have a table selling our signed books.
From the Festival Press Release:
This year the Arts Council is teaming up with the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environment to investigate how artists and climate activists can collaborate in ways that encourage all of us to consume less, effect positive change, and have fun along the way. Also, expect the usual barrage of bands, art, dance, food, a parade—and much more.
ArtBeat festival, on Saturday, July 13th, goes from 11 AM until 10 PM.
Festival Schedule and Performance Line-ups
I’ll be at my table from 2:30 PM-6 PM. Stop by to say hi!
My final school visit of the year was such fun. It had been a while since I’d shared my picture book The Trouble With Cauliflower, about a superstitious koala bear, so I was pleased that the librarian chose that one from my “menu.”
Waiting for students to arrive
The students—pre-schoolers to middle schoolers—were attentive and asked interesting questions. My favorite: “What advice would you have for an up and coming writer?”
With a proud grin, one student presented me with a picture he’d drawn of me, including the culminating slide of me dunking a basketball that illustrates my joy of writing.
Thank you to Aesop’s Fable for inviting me to do a Saturday morning story hour. It was such fun to discover this terrific new independent bookstore in Holliston, Massachusetts. I’ll be back!
Several months ago Doreen Buchinski and I spoke to students at Minuteman High School in Lexington about our writing (me) and graphic designing and illustrating (Doreen) processes. Then we met with teams of students and provided feedback on their alphabet book projects.
Last week we were invited back to see the results. The students’ books impressed us with their vibrant colors, sophisticated graphics, and varied visual styles, as well as content.
As you can see we really enjoyed seeing what students had created!