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The Book Tour

In mid-November, I traveled from Richmond, VA, to Jersey City, NJ, on an old-fashioned book tour. With me were six other authors of debut middle-grade titles: Caroline Carlson, Magic Marks the Spot (HarperCollins); Melanie Crowder, Parched (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Kit Grindstaff, The Flame in the Mist (Delacorte); Kristen Kittscher, The Wig in the Window (HarperCollins); Jennifer Ann Mann, Sunny Sweet Is So Not Sorry (Bloomsbury); and A.B. Westrick, Brotherhood (Viking). We had an extraordinary time meeting readers in different venues. But we also loved getting to know each other. And that included making time for downtime together too. Of all the tour moments, my favorite might have been (not pictured) the moment that we all sat at a wine bar together, reading our books and drinking wine and not talking. Alone, together. 

Thanks to Jen Mann for putting together this great photo collage.


The Book Play

At the juncture of costume creation and reading (one of my favorite junctures) lies this photo, from a book play my class did in second grade. Our art teacher, Mrs. Kehne, must have reproduced these book covers. She was so talented.

I (at left) wore HEY BUG! AND OTHER POEMS ABOUT LITTLE THINGS. My line involved having a broken spine--the result of a child's careless toss into a closet. I was asked to say it melodramatically and was more than happy to oblige. And then we all sang a song, which went something like this:

Just think of all the good things

A book can be:

A magic carpet ride

To places far and wide,

A friend to make you glad

At times when you are sad,

Adventures sent your way

To liven up your day,

A daring mystery,

A look at history.

My mother may even have written the lyrics--I'll have to ask her. At the time, she was the music teacher. Or maybe she didn't move into that post until the next year? At any rate, the lyrics--and the sentiments they express--stuck.


The Ventures and Misadventures Tour

This time next month, I'll be making my way through the mid-Atlantic with six other debut authors of new novels for tweens: Caroline Carlson, MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT (HarperCollins); Melanie Crowder, PARCHED (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Kit Grindstaff, THE FLAME IN THE MIST (Delacorte); Kristen Kittscher, THE WIG IN THE WINDOW (HarperCollins); Jennifer Ann Mann, SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY (Bloomsbury); and A.B. Westrick, BROTHERHOOD (Viking).

We'll be making six stops. Kristen Kittscher and I will be at all six, but others in the group will dip in and out as they're able.

Thursday, November 14, bbgb tales for kids, Richmond, VA, 4-5 p.m.

Friday, November 15, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA, 6:30-8 p.m.

Saturday, November 16, Cockeysville Public Library, Cockeysville, MD, 2-3:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 17, Doylestown Book Shop, Doylestown, PA, 2-4 p.m.

Monday, November 18, Haverford Township Free Library (in conjunction with Children's Book World), Haverford, PA, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, November 19, WORD! bookstore, Jersey City, NJ, time TBD

We called the tour Ventures and Misadventures because although the books are all different--some fantastical, others realistic; some historical, others set in the future; some funny, others serious--they all relate adventures, be they small or large. And you can't have ventures without misadventures, can you?


Living Without Chicken, Steak & Chocolate Cake

Inspired by a recent Fresh Air interview with the great Billie Jean King, I wrote a piece about the importance of teaching kids--girls especially--adaptability. You can find it here, at the website Bon Bon Break.

And speaking of adaptation, a storefront near me recently underwent some change.

Here it is before:

And here it is now:

I'm sure the new place is fine. It may even be excellent. But it doesn't have the poetry that Chicken, Steak & Chocolate Cake did. I can imagine Chicken, Steak & Chocolate Cake as the title of something great--a long-lost Shel Silverstein poem, maybe. I'll get used to the change, I know. But I don't have to like it.

By the way, I have no idea whether Chicken, Steak & Chocolate Cake was ever a functioning restaurant.


Princeton, Alexandria, Baltimore

My past two weekends have been taken up with book festivals in Princeton, Alexandria, and Baltimore, and I've got some lovely memories--and photos--to prove it. Here are a few of the latter. (If the former were as simple to upload, I'd do it.)





My traveling companions, the hedgehogs.








With Paul O. Zelinsky, a delightful table neighbor if ever there was one










When Elissa Brent Weissman and Jonathan Auxier turned into scary monsters