Friday, April 27, 2012

Art Appreciation with a Side of Chicken

Hello fellow readers!

I hope you all have people in your life that you can go to for fabulous book recommendations.  I have a few special people in my life who I know I can always count on to introduce me to wonderful books, new and old.  One of these people, my friend Cecily, recently started and is now the Publishing Director of Abrams Appleseed, specializing in books for 0-5 year old children!  So if you don't happen to have a special book recommender in your life, have no fear, we are in good hands with Cecily.  One of her new books, "COLORS" by Pantone, is already a favorite with me and more importantly with Oliver (my official in-house 0-5 year old book tester).  You know how when you read a book to a small child, you rarely stick to the text—there's a lot of talking about what you see on the page.  In this beautiful book, each page could spark hundreds of conversations.  Each two-page spread has one large picture featuring a single color and on the opposite side has 20 color chips in different shades with fun names (Macaroni and Cheese Orange, Sherbert Orange, Starfish Orange...).  It's hard to tell by the photo, but it's a board book with a really nice letterpress cover that is fun to feel... and taste (according to the resident book tester).   It's sturdy too—so far no visible chew or drool damage.

While we are on the subject of art, "Seen Art?" by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is a treat to read, especially if you've ever spent time in New York walking through the MOMA.  It's a great introduction to the age-old question of What (or Who, or even Where) is Art, and a good read for anyone who has ever got the giggles in a Very Serious part of an art museum. 


Another great place for book recommendations?  NPR.  I always turn up the radio when I catch author Daniel Pinkwater reviewing children's books, and that's how I found "Chicken Big" by Keith Graves.  I heard Mr. Pinkwater reading this book while I was driving and almost had to pull over, I was laughing so hard.  Check out the reading for yourself here.

In other exciting book news, less than a month until the newest Oliver Jeffers book comes out!  Stay tuned for a review!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adventures in Books

The last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy.  Spring break was jam-packed with jury duty and lots of reading.  Progress reports were due the week after my break and "student-led" Parent Conferences on the heels of the progress reports.  Add to all of that, amazing author events, the LA Times Festival of Books, welcoming Mas to the Alice team, and a surprise visit from my favorite little sister... April has been a bookish bonanza!  I hope you all have been having as much fun as I have.  I've dabbled a little bit in adult literature, which strikes a nice balance to my kid lit obsession.  It's nice to read something a little outside of the norm every once in a while.  I love any type of good writing, especially when I completely lose myself into another world.

So, here is a recap of some of my favorite events so far!

Reading The Fault in Our Stars for my adult book club.

A surprise rain and thunder storm in LA means we
kick off our shoes, grab a book, turn on the lamps and read!

Jon Klassen + Me + Mac Barnett = Amazing Birthday Weekend

Storytelling a new version of The Three Little Pigs

Alexander telling Golem Check out more pics here!

Most adorable author/illustrator team: Erin and Philip Stead

John Green!  Author of The Fault in Our Stars

The one and only Judy Blume (on right)

Judy signing books

After a long month, NJP passed out on my laptop while the little sis
and I fell asleep trying to watch Clueless.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Trusted Oldies and Fun Newbies

Hello fellow book lovers! I'm so excited that Meg has invited me to blog alongside her about my favorite children's books. Even before my son Oliver was born I had a whole bookcase of children's books- favorites from my childhood and newer ones I've picked up along the way, and now I'm going through them all over again to read out loud to little Oliver and to share with you!

It's a lot of pressure to pick books for my very first blog post so I'll just jump in and share a little of this and a little of that.

Book #1- an Oldie: The Golden Egg by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

My dad gave this book to his grandson this Easter- a favorite from his childhood and mine. In this book a little rabbit finds an egg and wonders impatiently what animal will hatch out of it, and if this animal will be his new friend. The story is classic and the illustrations are wonderful- the egg-shaped frame around each picture reminds me of those little eggs with windows with magical little dioramas inside.

Book #2- a Oldie/Newbie: Henri's Walk to Paris by Leonore Klein, illustrated by Saul Bass
This is a new printing of a 1962 book that I picked up because of its cover- it turns out the illustrator did the titles for Hitchcock films and was a graphic designer, and the illustrations have an unusual but very interesting charm about them. Beware, color blind readers, this book may be a bit hard to read because of the pink-on-orange print, but the story is wonderful so you should ask someone to read it to you! In this book, Henri is bored of his life in a small town and goes out looking for adventure and new experiences in Paris.

Book #3- another Oldie: Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Boston area folks will be excited to know that the Curious George Store re-opened this week, with new owners and a new clean, open layout. Although the book selection is smaller, and the downstairs (former young adult section) has been turned into offices, the picture/young children's book selection is a wonderful mix of new (I Want My Hat Back), curious (every Curious George book printed), and old (Bread and Jam for Frances), which I picked up as a welcome-back-to-the-neighborhood purchase, and to celebrate Oliver's introduction to the world of solid food. This is a book I remember from my childhood, and a current favorite of one of the best kids I know, Miss Chloe. It's about a picky eater who will only eat bread and jam, and contains one of the best depictions of unpacking and eating a home-packed elementary school lunch that I have ever read.

Book #4- LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

I'm not usually excited by alphabet books, but this one has an Ed Emberley style (remember those fingerprint books?) about it that makes me want to stop what I'm doing because the drawings are so great, and I could totally do that! Of course, it is harder than it looks, but it makes me feel creative and motivated to try. Mr. Baker draws hundreds of peas doing things alongside the alphabet. I could spend a long time checking out what each pea is doing. In fact, I'm going to do that right now.

'till next time!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring is in the Air!

Nikolas James Pumpkinhead enjoying
the Spring sunshine...on top of the
mounds of work I have to do.  What a guy!
For the last two weeks I have been on Spring Break and jury duty.  It wasn't the extravagant vacation I would have liked to but it has been a vacation, nonetheless.  In the last two weeks I have managed to read a lot, which makes me happy.  It helps that I live in a place where most people go for vacation.  So even though there wasn't any travel, there has been lots of sun, warmth, and good books.

There is also a change to Alice, Ever After that I am thrilled to announce.  My good friend Mas, who you have heard about time and time again, has agreed to become my partner on Alice, Ever After!  As a lot of you know, she is my source for a lot of great book recommendations, author suggestions, and is my go-to person for geeking out about children's literature.  (The other day I swear I saw a children's book author walking in my 'hood and Mas was the first person I texted.) Mas and her amazing husband Walter also helped me come up with the concept of Alice, Ever After.  Not only are they brainstorming geniuses, Walter and Mas are also a part of a musical group called Walter and the Night Owls, because they are just that amazingly talented!

Welcome Mas!  I am so excited for our online adventures!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Foolin'! April Events

April 21 - April 22, USC Campus
Happy National Poetry Month!  Here are bookish things happening in Boston and LA in April.  Did I miss anything??

Los Angeles

April 12
* Tahereh Mafi, Veronica Rossi, Anna Carey, and Cynthia Hand, four YA authors, will discuss and sign their new books at Vroman's at 6 pm.

April 13
* Jon Klassen, illustrator of I Want My Hat Back (I WILL be there! LA traffic better stay out of my way!), at Mrs. Nelson's at 5 pm

April 14
* Stories in the Garden with me!  Micheltorena St. School Garden noon to 1 pm.

April 14
* James Milhaley, author of You Can't Have My Planet, But Take My Brother at Children's Book World, 2 pm.

April 15
* Mac Barnet, author of Extra Yarn!, at Mrs. Nelson's at 2 pm

April 16
* Peter Larangis, author of 39 Clues, at Mrs. Nelson's at 5 pm

April 20
* Pseudonymous Bosch, mysterious author of The Name of This Book is Secret, and other books. This is hosted by Children's Book World but the event will be held at a school.  You can still go, just call the bookstore ahead of time for information.  

April 21 and April 22
* Los Angeles Times Festival of Books!!  Tons and tons of amazing authors in the two-day event at USC.  Some children's authors/illustrators include: Doreen Cornin (The Diary of a Spider), Marc Brown (author of the Arthur books), Philip and Erin Stead (author and illustrator of A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Adam Mansbach (Go the Fuck to Sleep), Judy Blume (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and a million other books), Cornelia Funke (Inkheart, The Thief Lord), John Gantos (Newbery Award winner for Dead End in Norvelt), Kadir Nelson (Award winner, We Are the Ship, and a million other books), Marla Frazee (Stars) and a whole lot more!

April 23
* YA panel with authors Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman, and Nina LaCour at Children's Book World, 6:30 pm

April 24
* Pop-up Book artist David Carter at Mrs. Nelsons, 5 pm

April 25
* Pop-up Book artist David Carter at Once Upon a Time Bookstore, 6:30 pm

April 27
* A panel (Words of Wonder Tour) with Jenn Reese, Anne Nesbet, and Laura White Reyes at Once Upon a Time Bookstore, 7 pm

April 28
* YA panel (Words of Wonder Tour) with Jenn Reese, Anne Nesbet, and Laura White Reyes at Children's Book World, 3 pm

April 29
* James Milhaley, author of You Can't Have My Planet, But Take My Brother at Chevalier Books


April 1
* Mo Willems, yes, THE Mo Willems, will be at Brookline Booksmith.  This event is sold out (you needed to request a free ticket) but you can still head to the store for a signing afterward.  Event starts at 10:30 am.

April 1
* Kadir Nelson, Sharon Robinson, and Scott Simon are going to discuss all things Jackie Robinson at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 1 pm.  (Teachers!  You can get 1 PDP!)

April 13
* Luisa Fortes da Cunha, author of the popular Portuguese series Teodora will be at the Valente Branch of the Cambridge Public Library at 11 am

April 14
* Kathy Brodsky and Cameron Bennet will read and illustrate at the Carle Museum, 2 pm.  Free with museum admission.

April 15
* Jeanine Atkins, author of Borrowed Names: Poems Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie and their daughters, will read and sign her books at the Carle Museum, 12 pm

April 17
* Somerville Public Library is hosting a discussion of Paul Fleischman's Seedfolks, one of my favorite books. This is for kids age 9 - 12.  The author won't be there but this is a great event! A community discussion will be held on April 22 at the Walnut Street Community Garden from 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm.

April 18
* Dedie King and Judith Inglese, the team behind the "I See the Sun" series, Carle Museum, 1pm, free with admission

April 20
* Mix and Mingle with picture book creators Anna Alter, Carlyn Beccia, Harry Bliss, Brian Lies, Shelley Rotner and Dan Yaccarino, at the Carle Museum, 11:30 - 1:30, free with admission

April 22
* Durga Bernhard, author of How Snowshoe Hare Rescued the Sun, and other books, at the Carle Museum, 2 pm