Paulie the Moose Goes to Peabody

Thank you to the North Suburban Jewish Community Center in Peabody, MA for inviting me to do a get-ready-for-Passover program! After a warm welcome from the staff, I had fun sharing my picture books PAULIE’S PASSOVER PREDICAMENT and DON’T CALL ME SIDNEY. The follow-up activities and crafts were a hit. And the breakfast afterwards was yummy. What more could a guest author want?

Ready to read. Thank you, Liz, for holding up the pictures!

Listeners ranged from 8 months to 89 years old.

Actors eager to re-create Paulie the moose’s not-so-perfect Passover seder

Children’s responses to my questions showed how carefully they had listened to the story.

Cutie-pie artists coloring a seder plate

The Silver Unicorn Shines

I’d heard great things about The Silver Unicorn, an independent bookstore in West Acton, MA, and I was not disappointed. I was there with other contributors to the Writers’ Loft’s An Assortment of Animals poetry anthology and loved the warm atmosphere of the store. We presenters had as much fun as the audience! Thank you, Silver Unicorn!

Anthology presenters at The Silver Unicorn: Bob Thibeault, Jodie Apeseche, moi, Doreen, Buchinski, Ellen Cohen, and Alice Fulgione

Doreen Buchinski, Anthology designer and illustrator of many of the poems, explains her illustration process.

Jodie Apeseche displays her collage techniques, inviting children to touch the components.

Poet Ellen Cohen shares her charming centipede poem.

Illustrator Bob Thibeault takes sketch requests from young attendees.

Doreen Buchinski and I pose before sharing the poem I wrote and she illustrated, “The Superb Blue-Crowned Mot-Mot.”

Books AND Breakfast? I’m there!

I’m looking forward to next Sunday morning, April 7th, when I’ll be doing a get-ready-for-Passover program at the North Suburban Jewish Community Center in Peabody, MA. I’ll get to share two of my picture books with children and their families, and run some fun activities!
Plus … there will be food (not just the food for thought kind). See you there!

10:30 AM

Address:
240 Lynnfield Street
Peabody, MA 01960

Dedication # 4

When it came to my humorous but heartfelt middle grade novel Not Even Mrs. Mazursky, based on my real life worship of my fifth grade teacher, subsequent disillusion, and eventual realization that no one is perfect, hence the title, (wow! this is a long sentence!), I decided to dedicate it to my sister:

Because, as the dedication says, my big sister is an extraordinarily generous and warm person.

She gives herself wholly to people she meets professionally, to her friends, and her family.

Part of her generosity is expressed through the meals she makes for countless people — always yummy and bountiful.
“How did you make all that?” I might ask. “It’s delish!”

“Oh, it was easy,” she’ll say. Maybe for you, I’d think, accepting a second helping. As the dedication references, she has an amazing amount of energy. No one can keep up with Judy. I don’t think anyone has tried!

My energetic, generous big sister, Judy Storeygard

Dedication # 3

For my third book, I honored my grandfather, aka Poppy, with whom I had a close, joyful relationship. He came to the U.S. at age 18, having escaped from the czar’s army (yes, we’re talking pre-Russian Revolution), knowing no English and almost no one.

George Balloff (my Poppy) at age 18, soon after he arrived in NYC from Russia

He learned English, Italian, and Spanish, graduated from the Columbia University School of Pharmacy and eventually owned two pharmacies in New York City. When I studied Russian in high school and college, Poppy and I had a secret language deployed at family gatherings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At age 90, he wrote his autobiography. My dedication reflects Poppy’s belief in me.

Poppy with my husband and me on our wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an Orange Octopus by Jane Sutton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The aforementioned third book is my middle grade novel Confessions of an Orange Octopus, in which eight year old “Chooch” learns to juggle and wants to become a street juggler, but his parents are not on board. After he and his friends (members of the Gripe Club, whose mission is to complain about grown-ups) have variuos adventures, Chooch and his parents agree on a compromise. And who gave Chooch the how-to-juggle book and devised the compromise plan? His grandpa!

Icing on the Cake!

Last week I had the honor of being invited back to do an author visit at Minuteman High School, the regional technical-vocational school located in my hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts. Since the visit involved presenting to students in the design & visual communications and early childhood education classes and giving feedback on picture books they were creating, I was joined by the designer and illustrator of Me and the Weirdos, Doreen Buchinski. Her art tips and insight turned out to be a wonderful complement to the my writing guidance and suggestions.

It was a joy spend the day at this school, with talented, receptive students and welcoming, dedicated staff members.

Nice to be welcomed with a big sign!

Talking to students about my writing process

Now Doreen explains her design and illustration process.

After a delicious lunch prepared by culinary class students, we opened our surprise gifts: cutting boards carved with the school logo, made by Minuteman students!

The icing on this cake!!!! It depicts the cover of my picture book The Trouble With Cauliflower. We were amazed and delighted by its 3-D quality. And by the way, it was delicious.

Doreen and I met Kimmee, the talented culinary student who created the spectacular cake.

Great Event, Great Store

I had so much fun at a special story time featuring An Assortment of Animals: A Children’s Poetry Anthology at The Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, MA. Nine of we poet and illustrator contributors shared our creations and inspirations with an enthusiastic audience.

I’d never been to the store before, which is charming and friendly and has a coffee shop inside! For sure, I’ll be back.

When we arrived, we found this beautiful display of the books, next to books by store co-owner and prolific author, Peter Reynolds.

All the presenters: Alice Fulgione, Brian Lies, Robin Brett Wechsler, Pam Vaughan, Deb O’Brien, Bonnie Gold, moi, Bob Thibeault, and Doreen Buchinski

Doreen Buchinski and me, with the poem I wrote and she beautifully illustrated, “The Superb Blue-Crowned Mot-Mot.” Doreen designed the anthology and is also the illustrator and designer of the new edition of Me and the Weirdos.

Here Doreen shows stages in her illustration process. Note my elephant garb, which I wore for the animal-themed event. I also wore elephant earrings and brought an elephant purse and tote bag. Why not?

An exciting surprise was the participation of Anthology cover designer and contributor Brian Lies, renowned for his Bats at the Beach series and The Rough Patch, recently announced as a Caldecott Honor Book!

Reverse Dedication

Just as I was in the midst of this series of posts about the dedications of my various books, I received one of my own! Author Josh Funk enrolled in the Writing For Children class I teach eight times, becoming a better and better writer. Three and a half years ago, he published his first book, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, and his career took off. Amazingly and thrillingly, he just came out with book number 10!!!!— It’s Not Hansel and Gretel …

,,, which he sweetly dedicated to me and two of his classmates, Ellen Cohen and Doreen Buchinski (illustrator of Me and the Weirdos!). Over time the class evolved into a critique group, with me more facilitator/alpha critique-er than teacher, so as Josh says, Ellen, Doreen and I were all with him “from the beginning.” A talented, versatile and popular author and presenter, Josh is also a lovely person.

Josh Funk, me, Ellen Cohen, and Doreen Buchinski, with our copies of It’s Not Hansel and Gretel, and Josh’s dedication

Dedication # 2

My second published book was the middle grade novel Me and the Weirdos. Whereas the new edition is dedicated to Ashley and Eva, the young composers and playwrights of the musical based on the book (see previous posts), the original book was dedicated to my parents, who were quite delighted by the dedication’s warmth and humor.

Me and the Weirdos by Jane Sutton

Original Houghton Mifflin hardcover

Original Bantam paperback

 

 

The “in moderation” was not just acknowledgment of my parents’ just-enough amount of weirdness, but also a nod to my dad’s mantra, “Moderation in all things.” To which his wise-girl daughter, moi, would occasionally say, “Isn’t that a little extreme, Daddy?”