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!
I’m excited to do a story hour at a new independent bookstore I’ve heard enthusiastic reports about! Aesop’s Fable just opened this year!
400 Washington St., Holliston, MA
After I read Don’t Call Me Sidney, about a pig who wants to be a poet, I’ll run interactive rhyming games. And following a reading of What’s Up with This Chicken?, I’ll invite young listeners to reenact scenes from the book, always a hoot. Then we’ll make chicks out of egg cartons. Come join the fun!
Once again, I think you will forgive the gap between posts. I won’t assign causality, but there is definitely a correlation between such gaps and welcome distractions — in this case, the arrival of adorable Gabby, our third grandchild and first child of our daughter, Becky, and her husband, Dan. See for yourself …
2 Hours Old!
Deep in thought
From a very special Mother’s Day. Not the most flattering shot of me, but look at those 3 cuties: Linny, Caleb, and Gabby!
The sweet new family: Becky, Dan, and little Gabby
In my young adult novel, Defintely Not Sexy, Diana Pushkin and her friends discuss the relative sexiness of their high school classmates and assign themselves to the lowly category of the book’s title. Struggling with low self-esteem, Diana navigates various hurts and hilarity and her major crush on a new student, eventually discovering that some of the classmates she most admires for their sex appeal look up to her for her intelligence and wit.
When it came time to dedicate the book, I thought back to my seventh grade teacher, Douglas Dannay, whom I was lucky enough to have for both English and Social Studies. He was dynamic and challenging and taught me to be a better writer and more analytical thinker. I will never forget the first day of class on the first day of junior high. We were already buzzing in our seats when he held up a piece of yellow chalk and asked what it was. Someone responded, “Chalk.” “No, it’s not,” the teacher said. “Yellow,” someone else called out. “No, it’s not,” the teacher insisted. Or he might ask, “How do you know?” This went on for some time, and we wondered who this guy was and what kind of school we had enrolled in. By the end of the class, Mr. Dannay had convinced us that the words we had been calling out were not the thing itself but mere labels.
Cover of Little, Brown Hardcover
Cover of Bantam paperback
I loved learning philosophy in this way and also having ammunition to go home and annoy my parents by trying some of these strange exercises on them. It didn’t hurt either that the teacher was young and handsome, with striking blue eyes. So I guess it makes sense that besides honoring him for what he had taught me, I dedicated a book featuring a crush to him.
I recently got out my junior high yearbook and found what he had written to me: “To the most unusual student in a most unusual class.” I remembered that he had told the parents that our class was amazing, so I feel honored by what he wrote to me!
Here’s the dedication of Definitely Not Sexy: