Just because my children (you know who you are!) had the nerve to grow up and move out doesn’t mean I can’t make my Halloween buddy. Said buddy used to have a pumpkin head, but several years ago, nervy squirrels started gnawing the pumpkin buddy’s head, rendering my personification of Halloween fun, rather gruesome. Hence, the introduction of Ball Head person! The red playground ball–with a permanent marker-ed happy visage–has endured for years, smiling at trick-or-treaters no matter how humiliating its get-up. Here’s this Halloween’s stuffed hippie in my front yard.
I knew it…books never die! I read an article in my local paper about an exhibit at the Drift Contemporary Art Gallery in Portsmouth, NH. When I saw one of the exhibit highlights–a recycled-Golden-books gown, I had to find it on the artist’s site: http://www.ryanjudenovelline.com/golden-book-gown/
I’m trying something new and kind of exciting…Starting Sunday, October 6, Goodreads members can enter to win a paperback copy of my new picture book, Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster. It sounds like a fun program and could introduce the book to new readers! Just look for the book title or my name on Goodreads and enter to win!
Last week marked the first meeting of the writing for children class I teach at Lexington Community Education in Lexington, MA. It was a pleasure to see the returning students and meet new ones. The students are serious about writing, work in a variety of genres–from rhyming picture books to middle grade fiction–and offer each other support and astute criticism. It’s exciting to see the writing improve each week; I consider it a privilege to lead such a lovely group.
I’m so pleased that Publishers Weekly gave Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster a really enthusiastic review! Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what someone with obviously impeccable taste wrote:
“In this adorable and brightly illustrated Hanukkah story from Sutton (Don’t Call Me Sidney) and Rowland (Little Nelly’s Big Book), Esther the gorilla joyfully sets out to the Jungle Store to get everything she needs to give Hanukkah presents to her friends. She happily chooses the gifts, but as she hands them out to her monkey, elephant, hyena, turtle, and zebra pals, Esther realizes that her gifts may not have been as perfectly thought-out as she had hoped (such as the jogging suit she purchases for the turtle). Esther’s innocent mistakes and her ingenious solution will prompt laughter. Ages 4–9. (Sept.)” http://publishersweekly.com/978-0-7613-9044-2
I was certain that book apps were my enemy, the enemy of books in general, and quite possibly of all civilization. But when an educational app producer asked me if I’d consider turning my picture book THE TROUBLE WITH CAULIFLOWER into an app, I surprised myself by being uncharacteristically open-minded. After all, the book had–tragically–after warm critical reviews and solid sales leading to a second printing–gone out of print. So except for some stores selling it on consignment or sales in conjunction with author appearances, new readers would not get a chance to buy the book. A book app would grant a second life to my story about a koala bear who thinks that eating cauliflower gives him bad luck!
The developer gave me full creative control…it was fun to make suggestions for visual and sound effects on each page. Recording the voices was a family project: I was the narrator, my husband, Al, gave a Grammy-worthy performance as Mortimer the Koala bear, and our daughter, Becky, is spot-on as Mortimer’s wise, gentle friend, Sadie the Ostrich.
I realized that it was in my power to make sure that the bells and whistles don’t overpower or distract from my original story. The story progresses in a linear fashion, just as the book does, reinforcing reading skills. We even decided to position the find-places-to-tap instructions at the end of the app so that a child will hear the story the first time through without animations and sounds, and afterwards go back to find the special effects. (In a future post I’ll report on my espionage efforts to find out if my noble intentions are actually working with kids.)
I’m happy with the final product, well, thrilled is more like it. I’m grateful to my husband and daughter for joining the project, to Jim Harris–the illustrator–for allowing us to use his wonderfully detailed, appealing art from the original book–and to Kids and Beyond for ushering me into the world of apps, doing such a beautiful job on the project and for showing me that apps are not my enemy after all, but an extension of and variation on experiencing the book. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-trouble-with-cauliflower/id644476146?mt=8
Usually, the arrival of September 1st makes me shudder and shiver with thoughts of looming winter. But this year I’m celebrating the publication of Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster! My eighth children’s book, it’s my first one to come out in hardcover and paperback at the same time. The illustrator, Andy Rowland, did a wonderful job with my story. Look under “Books” to see where to buy it!Tomorrow, September 3rd, from 3:15-3:45 I’ll be reading 3 of my picture books at the Lexington Farmers’ Market Tomato Festival, Mass. Ave. and Woburn Street.