Monday, February 28, 2011


Daniel Pinkwater loves this book. He reads the whole story and then talks about it. Listen here!

Um... I'm glad he likes a good suicide story. I've always been puzzled by this book. Puzzled and FASCINATED. I have to run out the door but more talk on this later! But listen to this story and check it out. Then we can "discuss." Or I'll discuss and you can read....

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I like it when other artists admit that they're a mess! Oh, I'm such a mess. Nothing about my sketches are redeemable in the slightest. I used to do nicer sketches and they've since gone downhill. Soon they'll look like nothing at all! That will be something, now won't it? But I'm amazed by those crazy artists out there with the sketches that look as good or better than the art for the book. But now I'm getting off topic. Or am I? Anyway, love Shuan Tan.

Friday, February 25, 2011


With the closing of many Borders stores one would think people would finally be able to tell the difference between the two businesses... but alas, shoppers remain clueless.

This is a typical conversation:

"Do you have the membership card?"
They proceed to hand me a red card.
"Um... this is a Borders card. You are in Barnes and Noble."
"This is Barnes and Noble?"
"You can't take this card?"
"Why not?"

"Why are there so many empty shelves in here. Is that because you're going out of business?"
"No, we're not going out of business. We're just rearranging some books upstairs."
"But I heard that you were."
"No, that's Borders."
"This isn't Borders?"

Oy! It doesn't matter what you do or what the signage is... people remain clueless. Some people think that Borders and Barnes and Noble are one in the same. I'm sure that the corporate leaders would not like to know that this confusion exists. I think it's pretty silly.

Here's some more confusion:

"Where are the Kindle covers?"
"We don't sell the Kindle here."
"Okay, but where are the covers for it?"
"We don't sell covers for it. We sell the Nook."
"Why don't you sell covers for the Kindle?"
"Because the Kindle is made by Amazon. Barnes and Noble makes the Nook."
"What's the difference? Why can't you just sell the covers? Where am I supposed to get them then?"
"Amazon is the competition. That is why we don't sell the covers. You have to order them online."
"But that's annoying. I don't feel like getting them online."
"Well... I don't know what to tell you about that."

Or even better:

"Can you show me how to use iTunes?"
"Well... we sell CDs here, not iTunes."
"But I don't know how to buy songs on my computer."
"You should call Apple or go to their store."
"How do I do that? Do you have the number?"
I ended up giving the man a whole tutorial on how to use iTunes. This was completely useless to the BN CD department!

I have many examples. It goes on and on. The only time I'm happy to help out is when I can recommend a good library to go to. People ALWAYS balk when it comes to that. I have no idea why. They would much rather buy a book and return it. So strange. Like this man:

"What's your return policy?"
"Two weeks with the receipt."
"Only two weeks?"
"Why so short."
"That's our policy."
"This book has a CD that is opened. I want you to write that on the receipt."
"I can't do that."
"I want you to write it."
"I'm not supposed to do that."
"I want you to write it."
"I'll have to call a manager."
Manager comes over:
"What is the problem?"
"This book was opened. I want you to write that down so that I can return the book."
"You want to buy this book and return it?"
"So you are buying the book and then you are going to return it."
"Yes. I want to buy the book and return it in two weeks. I want you to write on the receipt that the book was opened."
This went on and on. This man has now come in and done the same buy and return thing at least 3 or 4 times. GO TO A LIBRARY!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The Huffington Post wrote an article called: The Creepiest Children's Books Ever. Here are a few of the examples they included:

Okay, I'm sure that conjoined twins is a very serious problem for perhaps one in a billion people and it's not at all a funny situation... but I'll admit it... I laughed. A lot. This is one of these things where you have to wonder who this book is targeting. Like I said: it's a serious problem for one person in a the United States MAYBE. Is there even one? I'm sure there will be a lot of sales on that one.

And this... I don't know what this story is about but perhaps they should have rethought the cover just a tad. Enough of my thoughts on that. I don't want to say anymore or I'll get myself in trouble.

And this. It's all nice and painterly and all but if you look closely there's a nude figure in it and stuff. And it's about Hiroshima. Huh???

For the rest of the covers and the journal's own thoughts on them go here. It's worth your time! Trust me. There are a few that I will admit that we, at the bookstore, carry. A couple of them do have their place for the choice customer on occasion.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I found this interesting. It's not exactly children's book related, but at the same time it is. The competitor to Netflix and is starting a new trend--unlimited, instant streaming for what I consider a pretty low price per year:

What if they did that with e-books?


I just found out that Janet Schulman passed away last week. I'd seen her in the Random House office here and there but never really spoke more than briefly. I wished that I'd had the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation over tea and crackers... or something... but it just never happened. I think she meant a lot to publishing and despite the fact that I never got to know her personally I remember pushing her anthology books-- The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury: Celebrated Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud (Knopf, 1998) and You Read to Me & I'll Read to You: Stories to Share from the 20th Century (Knopf, 2001) a lot while working in the children's dept. at the bookstore. Anytime anyone wanted a present I told them either would make for a fine one.

I recall reading a long time ago, with fascination, about she forged the way early on for women in publishing. Before being editor at large at Random House she was marketing director at Macmillan. This is part of what she wrote in Publishers Weekly:

"With the New York Times #1 bestseller Watership Down and the many other commercially and critically successful authors and illustrators that Hirschman brought to the list, plus the Narnia books as the anchor of the paperback line that we started in 1970, the children’s division was growing rapidly and contributing significant profit. In the fall of 1974, though the country was in a deep recession with inflation cutting into profits, we believed that Macmillan, Inc. was in good shape....

But on October 14 and 15 of that year Macmillan suddenly fired 185 people from its offices at 866 Third Avenue. Why? Wall Street viewed it as a business blunder. Others viewed it as a Machiavellian scheme. It was both....

(there's a lot more to this and you can read the whole article here - I'm cutting a lot of it out)

At four o’clock that afternoon, after 13 years service, I was given one hour to get out, as was my staff of five....

In 1973 women employees had begun gathering facts about how Macmillan discriminated against them. I had always suspected (correctly) that I was being paid far less than male vice-presidents or male marketing managers. The final straw was my discovery, after I had a baby, that maternity medical benefits that were denied me were given to the wives of male Macmillan employees. I joined the Macmillan women’s group and was subsequently elected co-chairperson.

We filed a class action complaint with the federal EEOC on May 15, 1974 and on September 5 New York State Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz charged Macmillan with sex discrimination in a complaint filed with the State Division of Human Rights. On October 9 some 200 Macmillan women met at the YWCA on Lexington Avenue to hear an attorney from the State Division of Human Rights inform us of our rights. Less than a week later nine of us who had signed our names to the attorney general’s complaint were among those fired, as were a number of other active members of the Macmillan Women’s group.

The New York publishing world was shocked. The firings were front page news in the New York Times and were covered in most New York media. The Washington Post headlined its story “Mac the Knife...

Three years after the EEOC consent decree was signed I received a check from Macmillan for $2,841.61. A modest sum based on my not continuing employment with Macmillan after October 15, 1974… as if I had a choice! The money meant little to me. I felt vindicated that the small part I played was going to make things better for all women in publishing. And I think it did."

Janet was 77.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Richard Erdoes

I made a new discovery! As I was doing some research for my new book I stumbled upon this guy: Richard Erdoes

These are a few images from a book called Policemen Around the World, done in 1967. Wow. So great. I couldn't get my hands on a copy of this book but I ordered another book of his off of ebay. I can't wait to take a peek!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I was doing some research today for a new book I'm working on that takes place in the late 1950s, early 60s, and I stubbled upon this:

WOW, what a great cover! I could eat it up.

Then I went looking for more about this edition and found a blog that posted all the interiors!

Check them all out here.

Now I'm going to ebay to see if I can get my hands on the real thing. That would make me very happy indeed.


I just found this. Mayor's a real story teller. When I do my school visits teachers usually ask for me to read to the younger classes. It takes skill to animate oneself and read in a way that's compelling. Just because you write the book doesn't mean you can read it! I also love the fact that he's memorized the text. I'm impressed.

I just discovered that my desktop computer has a video camera built in. I was playing around with it and all of a sudden a little blue glowing dot lit up at the top and I saw my face staring back at me! Aaa! I wasn't looking so good so I didn't really want to look back. But I thought - Hmmm, I could read my stories like Mayer. BUT I certainly don't have any of them memorized! Maybe one of these days....

Friday, February 18, 2011


This book was really memorable for me as a child. As a flip through it there are a few key elements that made it really important.
1) The colors. They are deep, saturated blues, greens, and purples. You can stare at the pages and immerse yourself in the sea.

2) The details. "He hung his hat on the hook for his hat, and his rope on the hook for his rope, and his pants on the hook for his pants, and his coat on the hook for his coat, and his spyglass on the hook for his spyglass, and he put his shoes under his bed, and got into bed, which was a bunk, and went to sleep." There were so many little things to look at! I thought it was wonderful and still do.

3) Okay, who doesn't love building forts as a kid. This dog builds his own fort! Then he survives on his own--he fishes and lives by himself by the seashore. This is a kid's dream. Of course you can't have a child doing these things because where is the parent? This is when you put an animal in the child's place, so that the animal can live out the child's fantasy without some parent shouting out child abuse! (and of course they'd be right).

4) Foreign lands! So cool.

5) I loved this shoe page.

6) Finally, there's a song at the back to sing and my mom used to sing it to us every time she finished the book. "I am Scupers The Sailer Dog--"

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I keep thinking about how I could write about my medical experiences. I've gone through it all - including 2 spinal taps! But there are many things to consider. Do I do it in graphic novel form? Do I make it funny? Serious? How do I handle it? Then I came upon this book:

It's definitely a serious take on things. They are short tales about mental illness, such as "Dementia Ward," and "Cut." I laughed out loud when I read the doctor asking the Alzheimer's patient to spell word "world" backward. That's what the neurologist asked me to do. Um... I won't tell you all how I did. But thus far I think the book is interesting and the "Dementia Ward" reminds me of my brief job in a nursing home (this was when I was 16 and didn't last long!). I'd say that even though this is shelved for adults, teens could easily read it, especially considering some of the content for teens out there. The Dementia Ward has some potty stuff going on and of course a section like Cut is about cutting, but if a teen is interested in what really goes on then I think they'll think it's pretty fascinating stuff. It might even give them insight into what a job might be like if they worked as a nurse or PA in one of these hospitals or nursing homes.


AP: "Borders was slow to get the message as the big-box retailer lost book, music and video sales to the Internet and other competition. The result: It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday, and will close nearly a third of its stores"

I like this quote "Less nimble than rival Barnes & Noble, Borders now begins what analysts expect will be a quickly resolved struggle for the survival of its remaining stores. It's the latest cautionary tale about the dangers retailers face when they fail to keep up with swiftly changing technology and consumer habits."

My coworker last week was talking about the Nook... I mean Nook... (there's no article) and she is convinced EVERYTHING has to do with ebooks. But there are other things that are causing its demise too.

"Borders also suffered from a series of errors: failing to catch onto the growing importance of the Web and electronic books, not reacting quickly enough to declining music and DVD sales, and hiring four CEOs in 5 years without book-selling experience."

Not everything is about ebooks! They play a part, but A PART. Ugh, I'm getting sick of just mentioning the word ebook. (And don't think I forgot about my experiment! I haven't finished my sketches yet so I can't get to it yet).

"Norris said Borders' problems mean that publishers will have to immediately cut their 2011 revenue estimates by 1 to 10 percent. Paperback sales, an area that Borders cultivated more than Barnes & Noble, may suffer in particular."

"I think Borders' fall will cause a lot of publishers to realize they can't just count on a few giant entities to sell their products, and the best retailing partners are going to be those who have to sell books in order to draw their next breath," Norris said."

"Borders plans to close about 200 of its 642 stores over the next few weeks, from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., costing about 6,000 of the company's 19,500 employees their jobs. The closures are also a blow to publishers already owed tens of millions of dollars by the company, which stopped paying them in December."

OUCH. It's not over yet, but it could be soon. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Here's another favorite. Sadly, I could only find it in another language! If any of you can find it in English, let me know!

I really love this one. It's SO sad... but of course has a happy ending. This is another that I watched over and over again. I really loved the sad ones. Still do. Was this a Wonderworks piece? I think it might have been but I'm not sure. They put out some wacky shows!

Monday, February 14, 2011


This Valentine's Day got me thinking about the creation of holiday books. There are lots of in-house books created and once in a while I see one done by a well known author or author/illustrator combo. Is it worth it to take that plunge? Certainly the Christmas season might be a time to try out because the display space in bookstores... er (will that still be the case?) will be front-and-center for at least a good month or two and will give good sales. But what about libraries? Do libraries want a Valentine's book? Is that of any use? I've never bothered to try a holiday book because I don't think it's worth my effort, but that's just one author's opinion.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Accept no substitute! This will be part of the "accept no substitute!" series. (yes, I grew up on PBS)

Here she is in the 80s:

Then I was wondering what Megan Follows was up to:

And you may pronounce her name as MeEgan but my name is pronounced as MeHgan. I just wanted to get that straight.

Back to Anne of Green Gables. My sister and I watched it so many times that we memorized many of the scenes. I kind of thought I was somewhat like Anne (minus the big words and book reading part). I had a braid and reddish hair and was daring and had freckles. Perhaps Anne was a mix of my sister and I. She was quite the bookworm. Maybe if we melded the two of us we'd be Anne. Hmm... I think I'm over thinking this just a tad.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


If you read my mom's interview (I'll post the rest later) then you know that this was one of my favorites:

I'm looking forward to Allsburg's new one that Betsy Bird posted about a while ago. I have been disappointed in some of his recent stuff and especially the movies that have come out. Tom Hanks doing most of the characters in CGI form? YUCK. Why didn't they just act it in out in regular old people form? This whole computer instead of human thing is such a fad! It could have been a brilliant movie. I couldn't even watch it and admit that I didn't even try. The visuals made me want to vomit. Is that too much? Did I go too far? Sometimes I do... but... eh.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I have been looking at THIS IS NEW YORK a bit because I'm working on a new book and it takes place in the late 50s - early 60s. This is New York was made during that time period. A lot of times I want the design of my books to be inspired by the time period I'm writing about. As I was looking at the book below I noticed that there is a lot of negative white space. Where the designer chose to put the type is interesting. I think it works well:


But if the type was lumped all together in one place, as opposed to sprinkled about asa it is, the book might be ruined. OR suppose the designer got a little overzealous and used odd fonts or bold type or made the fonts colored? The book might also look awful.

What would you have done?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


This is a typical type of conversation from work at the bookstore (if you can call it typical):

I tuned in when I heard my coworker say in a very serious, loud robotic voice:"You think that the laptop desk is giving you cancer?"
The old man responded in a raspy, slow voice:"Yeah," as he held up a pink cushy thing with a wooden top to put on your lap to do paperwork, etc.
My coworker repeated again even louder robotic voice:"You think that the laptop desk is giving you cancer?!"
"Yeah, yeah."
"You think that the laptop desk is giving you cancer?!"
"Yeah, yeah, working with those know."
"Oh, so, you don't mean the DESK. You mean the computer.... I don't think so."
"Oh, okay," and with that the old man hobbled away while carrying the laptop desk. I wondered whether he'd still buy it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I rarely talk about ideas that I have before I sign on the line... but I think it's okay to talk about this one. I was with a group of illustrators last week and we were talking about being picked on as kids. I was brutally picked on in junior high. It was so traumatizing that I'd blocked some of it out entirely for a few years. Talking with a few of the others gave me an idea. I'd wanted to do a book about my experience for some time but I don't remember enough to make a whole book out of it. That light bulb went off. What if we did a group project? A compilation of sorts! So my idea is to do a graphic novel about bullying and bullies with some stories that may just have text, some single pieces of art, and lots of graphic novel pieces for teens. I want to gather "submissions" of sorts and try to compile it all and then submit it. It obviously won't be about the money because how on earth will we all get paid for something like that? But I'm excited about it none the less. Sometimes there's that thing that needs to come out. I think I've finally found a way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I ask a lot of people this question and they don't notice. This is why a lot of people don't notice mistakes in books. The eye fixes the mistakes automatically and moves on... unless it's really glaring. I guess that's good. But when you're an author and you're trying to edit your own work, it's bad. You don't want to miss something! And believe me, it's really easy to do. This is why it's very important to have several people who don't know your story read through it. Trust me. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, February 7, 2011


When do they work?


I have such a strong memory of watching this part of this strange movie, based on a Ray Bradbury book, as a kid:

I'll never forget the grandmother pouring milk from her finger! It wasn't just strange, it was a little creepy but at the same time the grandmother was very warm and loving. What a strange combination! I don't think you can find that in a movie today. The same goes for books. I posted below about In The Night Kitchen. It's strange, but fun and memorable. "Wacky" as my mom called it. Everything has to be so safe or a bunch of people will complain. But there has to be room somewhere for that kind of material so that children today can end up carrying around powerful memories like I do. Memories like that are important. Not everything has to be happy--it can be a little unsettling or off kilter at the same time. At least I think so.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I posted this part on the BRG but I wanted to talk about it for a bit as well. I developed a tick from being so stressed out from the pressure of trying to keep up with the other readers in the 4th grade. I remember reading the same sentence over and over again and I just couldn't focus! I really would try. What really did help was when my mom read to me. I'll talk about that part later. Below is what I asked my mom about:

ME: When was did you first notice that I had attention problems?

MOM: I began to notice that you had a little attention deficit when you were pretty young. But I would not have used that term. I just remember being aware that it seemed noteworthy that I had to ask you a half dozen times if you wanted orange juice or tomato in the morning. I recall being sort of astonished that you wouldn't answer. You were always pretty wired at home. Do you remember asking us to count laps as you ran around the house? Your uncle Ted was probably the first one to comment on your temperament. You were tiny, I mean maybe just weeks old when he held you and said, wow she is very alert. Your hair stuck up like you had been electrocuted. I mean you were wired. You were well behaved in school but let it all hang out at home. You were never mean or destructive, just lively and we did enjoy you.

ME: Was this apparent at home or just in school?

MOM: Your fourth grade teacher (who had a hyperactive son) was the first professional to mention it to us. Or maybe the third grade teacher said it in a very vague soft way. But Mrs. A. referred you to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician

ME: I remember going to a doctor to be tested but I was never told what it was for. I thought it was some sort of intelligence test. It really stressed me out. Why didn’t you guys explain what it was for? Or did you and am I just not remembering?

MOM: I am afraid I don't remember what I told you about why you were going. I usually try to explain things so I would imagine we said it was because the teacher thought you were having trouble paying attention. The funny thing is, that you were first referred for a test to see if you had auditory processing problems. That came up negative. And the Dr. who wrote an evaluation on you, left it up to us, to decide if you should be tried on stimulant medication.

ME: Bridget was a huge bookworm. I really didn’t like reading all through school. I don’t remember you forcing us to read but I do remember having to read a number of books during the summer months as a requirement to get into the next grade. I always tried to get the smallest book possible. You really can’t make someone be a reader I guess! Were there any tricks you tried on me? Or did you just let me be?

MOM: I do think I tried to get you to read. We went to libraries and bought books and encouraged you to read during the summer for fun. But it just wasn't fun for you. I wonder if you would have liked books on tape when you were younger. You seem to enjoy them now. You could have listened while you did other things. I would tell parents of kids who don't seem to enjoy reading to try that.


In the 4th grade I was brought to a very stern, scary-type doctor who made me answer questions such as: "Repeat after me: Ball, dog, blue shoe." Then I'd do so. Then he'd say: "Remember those three things. Fifteen minutes later he'd ask me to repeat them again. I wouldn't remember them. Was it a memory problem or did I never process the objects to begin with? I was very good with the visual parts of the tests.

Even in college, I'd drift off very quickly when I wasn't interested. So I stopped going to lecture halls entirely. What was the point? I managed to get mostly As and Bs anyway. I studied on my own. After years of dealing with attention problems I'd found ways of dealing with them. But there are many times when I miss pieces of conversations and I pretend that I don't. I MUCH prefer doing publishing business via internet than over the phone because I can concentrate better. Some editors understand this better than others.

In The Night Kitchen - Too Strange?

When I asked my mom what some of my favorite books were as a kid she said, "You of course loved the wild and wacky, In The Night Kitchen," This spurred me to find this video:

And then of course I had to read the comments, some of which irritated the heck out of me:

That IS a weird book. I've come across it once b4 & thought what the??? Your comments on the book are hilarious! Well done!

At first i thought YOU had written the warped book, I kept looking at the cover to see if it really was an authentic main stream published book! Was the author on weird drugs? Is the author head of a pedaphile club?? Fantisy is fun in kids books, but this is more of a nightmare

zaniebobanie 2 years ago
It's sort of a classic -- same guy wrote "Where the Wild Things Are" -- but a very strange classic.

VMKPRO 2 years ago
Glad you liked it. An Owen classic...

DadLabs 2 years ago
Highest Rated Comments
I love this book. It was one of my favorites when I was little and is still one of my fav children's books. I love the illustrations, and the surrealism. Because he's naked on like 4 pages makes it inapropriatte?? Come on. It's a children's book, and it's not like it's graphic. You prudes need to grow up.

NotanEmoJasmine 1 year ago 6
I know this comment is a year old but I just had to say something. Sendak has discussed this book due to all the idiodic controversy and purpsely drew the chefs with hitler mustaches baking the kid in an oven as a hidden haulocaust referance because of his Jewish heritage.

Excellent, very funny review. Exactly our reaction to the story when we first saw it! We have it animated on the "Where the Wild Things Are" DVD (animated version) and our son (2 yrs old) watches it over and over and over! We weren't sure if it was all a bit too surreal but he loves it

leepharps 2 months ago
this is funny but the author is the same guy who wrote where the wild things are so... yea

Lubydo 2 months ago
thumbs up!

billshots 1 year ago
@NotanEmoJasmine THANK YOU

trembleweeds 1 year ago
LMFAO, that was beyond hilarious!!!!!!!

desolate2 1 year ago
this is hillarious

trishiz0 1 year ago
That made me laugh so hard that someone actually came into my room and asked what was wrong. Hilarious.

ChowakeePsycho 1 year ago
Just a small correction, those 3 bakers were actually supposed to look like Oliver Hardy, not Hitler.

This is a sick homo book. they even got hitler chefs in it. OMG!

phantastickyle 2 years ago
they showed his penis in a kids book....

Fantastic. I love how the discomfort just multiplies with every page.

weird book

I really hope that YouTube does not represent the cross population of America. Unfortunately, after working in retail for so long, I'm afraid that it does.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I've decided to put up some of the interview with my mom in pieces. This is because I want to talk about some of it! AND it's a long interview.

I remember when I asked you to read my first attempt at a novel. You said something like: “Bridget is the writer in the family. You should stick to art,” or some such. You later explained why you said that. You really thought my writing would be terrible and was trying to save me from embarrassment. But this is why I ALWAYS ask you for advice on my writing before anyone else--because you are honest and I value your opinion. I think we have the same taste in writing and art. Sometimes honestly is hard to swallow, but it always works out for the best. What did you think of my early writing attempts? You can be honest. I won’t cry.

"I think you struggled with writing in school for the same reason that sometimes made it hard for me to figure out what you were trying to tell me in everyday conversation. You tended to start telling me something as if I was inside your brain. I remember having to ask lots of questions to figure out where your ideas were coming from. This is a really simplistic example; "Mom, she was there when it happened." And I would be totally puzzled and have to say, who what where and when. Consequently your writing was confusing. I think you also had trouble organizing. Remember your little index card to help with a math test. You were allowed to bring one index card with some helpful facts to a math test. You filled both sides with microscopic letters and numbers with no spaces between them. It was like looking sanskrit . Your notebooks came home with huge holes where you must have erased right through the paper. I used to marvel at them. Basically your attempts to help yourself learn, produced chaos. So I was astounded when you began to write coherently. when you were in your twenties. I think that part of your brain just matured late."

I remember in school wanting to write stories and thinking I had a lot of great ideas. I'm talking about way back in elementary school. We would get assignments like: Write a story about Santa Clause. I never remember more instruction than that. Isn't that strange? I think that is part of the reason why I didn't have the skills necessary until later in life to craft something with a story arch--beginning, middle, and end. I mean, if I didn't like to read and DIDN'T then what examples would I have had to compare to? It wasn't until after college that I decided I wanted to write a novel. The light bulb went off in my head that perhaps I needed to read some novels first! I really didn't read at all unless I HAD to! Strange, right? Even stranger is that I sat down and wrote 250 pages in less than a month. I'm not saying it was anything great but I was able to focus enough to do it. I also got past the first hurdle in the submission process. But when I asked my mom about writing in school she said I was stubborn and didn't want to take directions. Of course I don't recall what I did as a 7 year old but maybe she's right. Maybe that was part of the problem. Maybe I really have matured in my 20s! Is that possible for a brain to continue to grow?

So all of this does have a point. Kids who have attention problems who seem hopeless perhaps are not. This is a message I want to spread.


A reader, Michelle Markel, alerted me to her blog post about kids speaking out about e-books (100 or so, grades 4-8) "An overwhelming majority spoke wistfully of the tactile pleasures of traditional books. They liked holding old fashioned books in their hands, looking at their covers, rifling through the pages to see how much they'd read, they even liked smelling them. Paper books made it easier to "get into" the story (the glare of the electronic screen was a distraction). They liked keeping books on their shelves, looking at their spines, holding on to them as a keepsake." Read the whole thing here!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Finally! My mom has come through! I sent her a bunch of questions and she answered them.

My mom has been a social worker for 27 years and for 20 of them has been a school social worker (MSW, LMSW). I had my own "issues" growing up so I thought it would be interesting to get her perspective. I was right! I am really fascinated by the answers. I learned something about myself and I hope people will learn that there's hope for kids with attention problems.

I'm including only PART 1. I don't have time to stick the "questions" back in but maybe I will when I get home! (she took them out) Enjoy.

ME: Bridget and I are two years apart (I’m older) but were very different in terms of reading skills. Bridget devoured everything. I remember she’d be curled up in a corner reading Anne of Green Gables while I’d be out running in circles or painting a picture. Did you do anything different with us education-wise?

MOM: You, Bridget and Kaila all loved being read to. Dad and I and your two grandmothers all loved to read to you. Even though Bridget is the only one who turned out to be an avid reader, I still have hope for you and Kaila. I think you all have the capacity to love literature. Some people are just late bloomers. Sorry I am jumping ahead. I'll get back to your early years. You never wanted to skip our reading before bed routine. And it just so happened that you had the exact same taste in children's books as I had. I never dreaded reading to you because I loved the books myself, even the ones we read over and over again. We were lucky to be able to afford to buy luscious books with big beautiful art work. Even though we frequently went to the library, we always bought you books for Christmas

ME: I remember you used to read us a lot of picture books. Can you name us some of your favorites? What were some of Bridget and my favorites?

MOM: One of my favorites was Chris Van Allsburg's The Wreck of the Zephyr. I can still picture the illustrations even though it has probably been twenty years since I have looked at the book. I also loved the sense of mystery and wonder it provoked. It's funny but something about it reminds me of a picture of an imaginary scene we had hanging in my childhood home. I used to stare at it and imagine going there. I called it "babyland". I guess the connection was just that it stirred my imagination. We did not own picture books with colorful illustrations

You of course loved the wild and wacky, In The Night Kitchen. And when I was desperate to get you all to sleep, I would choose the lilting refrain of Goodnight Moon. I loved the colors in those illustrations.

ME: Was there anything you got sick of reading?

MOM: The only books I used to get bored reading were the ones which I guess were supposed to teach kids vocabulary. I remember one that was given to you that was sort of like a picture encyclopedia, with pictures of everyday objects and little bears thrown in to make it more kid friendly. I really avoided books with crappy illustrations.

ME: Kaila (my third sister and seven years younger) seemed to be a little different than us. What were some of her favorite books? I remember she liked a book about a bear by himself. It doesn’t seem like a book that Bridget and I would like. Perhaps this is because we had each other and Kaila WAS by herself… in a way?

MOM: Bridget loved the Berenstain Bear books. I think Kaila did too. Kaila did love Bear by Himself. It was such a quiet little book. I liked it too, I guess because I agreed with the message, which was that sometimes you are your own best company. I think so many kids think they are "losers" when they are alone. But this book put a real positive spin on being alone.

ME: I remember that you read both picture books and novels. It was a mixture. I really loved that. Why did you decide to do that?

MOM: Bridget and Kaila both liked to collect the Berenstain Bear books. Bridget especially loved reading chapter books together. It probably took us quite awhile to get through some of them. I think she liked looking forward to the next chapter. We read the Roald Dahl books, BFG, and Witches. We also read Robinson Crusoe and another book--So Far from the Bamboo Grove--together. She remembers that Aunt Carol got us a signed copy of that one. Bridget did think that made it special. I think going from picture books to novels was a natural progression as you got older and developed bigger vocabularies. Its funny, you didn't like to read on your own, but you did have a good vocabulary and always did very well on standardized tests.

ME: Dad also used to make up stories sometimes and I think both Bridget and I loved that. I think it really encouraged us to be creative. Do you remember that? Did you ever participate?

MOM: Yes, Dad did enjoy making up stories. He would be a natural at that. He is the best one in both of our families at recounting funny things that have happened to him , in a very entertaining way. I think you are too by the way. You have a knack for mimicking people. I did make up stories too, but I think Dads were more memorable. You may not recall this, but I did tell you a made up story about walking upside down. i really used to love looking at the ceiling and pretending to walk on it.

ME: Did your parents read to you when you were little?

MOM: My mother always read to my brother and I. We had an old anthology of children's literature. I think I just loved the fact that we were all snuggled up together peacefully. We had her undivided attention in such a positive way. I could tell that she was enjoying it too. That is what I enjoyed most about reading to my children. The stories in those old books were less memorable than the time spent together. However, I do remember the first book that was ever given to me..

ME: I know there wasn’t a good selection back then and books were only printed in 2 or 3 colors, but do you have any favorites from then?

MOM: My sister gave me Eloise. I just loved it. I think it was the first book that I could call mine. It had a lot more illustrations than the old books and they were colorful and funny.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Have any of you seen the movie EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP?

(This is HUGE and beautiful!)

If not, I won't get into particulars but it's based on the London street artist Banksy. This is some of his art:

I entertain myself by documenting NYC street art:

(This was all done with drips of paint on the sidewalk!)

You never know what you might see and some of the stuff is really creative. I have an idea for my own stencil - a 1950s woman winking - but I won't say more about that.

I do have a point to all of this that is children's book related believe it or not. Is there ever a way to use street art to promote a children's book? OF COURSE you do not want to promote or encourage kids to vandalize! But are there kinds of street art that one could do that are removable and not damaging to the environment that could work? Some might be very effective for teen books. A long time ago when my book Show Dog came out I thought of putting up "Wanted" posters in the subways. Like--"Lost Show Dog" and then the flyer would advertise the book. That's kind of street art-ish and completely removable.

I just thought I'd throw out the idea since this type of art is very "in"!