Something real, something to hold onto, something to pass on

May 27th, 2011

I like books. Surprise? I suppose not. I am a big fan of stories in all formats (especially audio books) and I am becoming strangely fond of  the many  capabilities of various new gadgets which have come into our house and my pocket… though I am trying not to become addicted, or that person in the restaurant who isn’t interacting with real, live companions.  I can see enormous advantages to reading in an electronic format, especially for students, and travelers. But I see these things as useful options. I do not see them as replacements for the book.

I like books because they are real. You can hold a book, clutch it and keep it, or share it. You can tuck things between the pages. I also like them because there are No Updates Required. (Oh, yes, I like that very much)

This is my mom. Her expression (captured and printed and hand-colored by my grandfather) is a reaction to a passage in a book.

Oh, yeah, he did!

This book: The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson.

sweet

This particular copy of this book, given to my mother by a friend of her mother, my grandmother, in 1938. For some reason the fact that my grandmother’s friend, Betsie, miss-spelled my mother’s name only makes me like it more. Maybe because I’ve been known to miss-spell my own name from time to time, especially if I try to talk to people while I’m writing.

This is the actual page that inspired that look:

Ow!

My grandmother’s friend lost most of her own family in concentration camps in World War II. I didn’t know her well. She was my grandmother’s friend, I was a kid. I might have forgotten all about her except that  she chose this book, wrote a few graceful, kind wishes to my little baby mother, and signed her name.

A small family story connected in small ways to the larger world… but real. My mom loves this book, and I love this book. I remember my grandmother when I read it and share it with my family. It smells like her house. (Not a good smell, exactly, but when I smell it, I’m there.) I remember her friend, Betsie, too.

Another thing I like about books: finding things between the pages. Things tucked away by me and forgotten, or left by others. Grocery lists, notes, checks, money… I have found all these things. Pressed flowers, 4-leaf clovers, drawings… here’s one I like:

Awwwww.

In case you can’t read it, the note says : “The world gave her an apple. This is the world. She’s going to eat it.”

Here’s something else I found:

Beat that, (insert major brand-name current e-reading device here)

 

 

 

In defense of dandelions

May 26th, 2011

Does this make you shiver?

I’ve always had a sympathy for weeds, dandelions in particular. Why? Because–no matter how you hack, or whack, or chop them, they will grow back. Go ahead! Dig them up. Poison them, chop off their heads, they will survive. Look away for 5 minutes and they’ll thrive, springing up with a head full of wishes to share with anyone who passes by… or the wind.

I have to admire this kind of persistence. Useful in my line of work.

Other interesting facts about dandelions: they are good to eat; chock full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidents. Maybe “good” to eat is a stretch… They have a bite that makes a person feel virtuous (and vigorous, and strong) after eating them. Personally, I like them wilted in a pan with bacon, or with thai chilis, soy and oyster-flavored sauce, and garlic. (Num)
Also: They are considered a beneficial weed. That long tap root breaks up hard soils, and makes nutrients available to other plants. This is a good plant! Gooooood.

H’m.
Why is a line from Young Frankenstein running through my head…? Hee hee.

Big Wish at Green Bean Books

May 20th, 2011

These wish-puffs will not weed-seed your yard!

Green Bean Books is one of my favorite bookstores. It’s cute, cozy, and has a great selection, too. And they do lots of fun book-related craft classes and programs… Something cool and different all the time. They’re at NE 16th and Alberta. I’ll be reading and signing there tomorrow (Saturday, May 21st, at 2) and making wish cards, too. Like these or different, as you wish.

Every one is different, like snowflakes. Or you can draw, or cut and paste, whatever. I’m bringing pretty sky, grass, and dandelion-colored papers, scissors and glue-sticks. Come and make a wish with me!

Happy Big Wish Day!

May 2nd, 2011
Pretty weedy goodness

sketch for Big Wish endpapers

The Big Wish comes out this week. Yay! I think… It’s just starting to turn springy after months of chilly murk and gloom. The gardeners and lawn-fanciers are PENT-UP. I wonder what will happen when these nice people take a break from clipping and edging and weed ‘n feeding to visit the bookstore (perhaps for a nice book on topiary, or water features, or butterfly gardening) and find ME, reading from my book about weeds? The weediest of weeds, the dreaded dandelion. The storyline involves a big-time scattering of weed seeds, too. We’re talking World Record, here. Could be very entertaining.

Here are the lovely book shops (and one gorgeous, super-splendid library) I’ll be visiting over the next few weeks:
Saturday May 7th, at 1pm: reading & drawing party & Mother’s Day Wish-card making at Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing

On Saturday, May 14th at 1pm I’ll be reading and presenting at The Nantucket Atheneum.
On Nantucket! Oooooo. Lucky me.

Saturday May 21st at 2pm book-signing and wish-craft at Green Bean Books On Alberta, in NE Portland.

Saturday June 4th at 10 am The St Helens Book Shop (in St Helens, Or)

on June 11th 2 pm we’ll have sharks (With the National Geographic for Kid’s Writer, Ruth Musgrave) and dandelion wishes at  A Children’s Place . What a combo!

 

 

A Toot for Bubble Homes & Fish Farts

April 1st, 2011

Some fun news: Bubble Homes and Fish Farts was voted by the
participating students of Pennsylvania as their favorite and is the
intermediate level winner of the Keystone to Reading Book Award for
2010-2011. Yay, Bubble Homes! Yay, Fish Farts! (No fooling.)

See you at Flap Flap, the Writers & Illustrators Gala!

March 31st, 2011
SCBWI OR writers and Illustrators Gala
Meet, mingle, and browse! Should be fun.

The Big Wish gets its first public showing here. A sneak peek, as it’s not actually out yet, but I do have advance copies for show and tell. Everybody gets three minutes to present their newest and latest, so it will be friendly and fun and move right along. Lots of other local writers and illustrators will be there. Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Susan Blackaby, Heather Frederick, Barbara Kerley, Trudy Ludwig, Ruth Musgrave, Rosanne Parry, Kaaren Pixton, Dawn Babb Prochovnic, Maggie Rudy, Elizabeth Rusch, David Michael Slater, and Emily Whitman. And me. And snacks! Tasty little cookie snacks…. Yum. Join us! Saturday, April 2nd,  2:00-4:00 at the Multnomah Art Center 7688 SW Capitol Hwy Portland, Or 97219

Wish Away

November 11th, 2010
The Big Wish Cover

The swirls will be clear on the actual cover. So fancy!

Art is away, into the kind and capable hands of my friends at Chronicle. They’ve been GREAT to work with. I know I’ve said that before, but I’ve been lucky enough to work with one group of talented, funny, and good people after another. In between doing little dances and hooting with glee, I’ve been talking to people (Wow!) and clearing flat surfaces piled high with sketches, furry brushes, squeezed-out tubes of paint, scraps of reference, and a few other things. (Dang– I don’t think that’s edible anymore…. And I thought I paid that bill!) It feels good to finish and move on, even if it’s just to the next stage. Still lots to do in preparation for when the book comes out in the spring. This spring. Really. Oh, be still my stomach…  But I will be queasy about that later. For the moment I am JUST HAPPY. Having a great time working on something different! Not exactly new, but different. Ahhhh.

Who, me–Chicken?

October 26th, 2009

Chickens are everywhere these days. When I walk my dogs around the park (right here in town) I often hear a rooster crowing. I think it’s probably a code violation, but I like it. I grew up with chickens  (No, I was not RAISED by chickens! No matter what anyone says… ) I have no powerful urge to own  chickens these days, but  I do like to draw them, and make up little stories about their fears, and trials…

mr clucky faces danger

…and triumphs. This is from a story out making the rounds. Be brave, chicken! You never know.

mr clucky victorius

Fun in the world

September 18th, 2009

The scene at Chapman school

Work is necessary, work is good. But gritting your teeth and working, head down, is not always good for your work. You can carve a rut in your brain. You can stumble in and get stuck there. Sometimes it pays to look UP.

This time of year, we like to watch the Vaux’s swifts migrate through Portland. One place they stop is the chimney of the Chapman elementary school in NW Portland. 10 or 15,000 or more birds swirl down into this chimney. Living smoke, in reverse. (Good info at the local Audubon Society site, HERE. ) A LOT of people go to see this event, these days. All types; from bookish bird watchers making notes in notebooks, to arty types with elegant picnics and tiny dogs tucked under their arms, to young parents with lumbering, panting, old dogs and burbling babies, and/or young children who break away and spend the hour before sunset shrieking with glee, sliding down the hill on scraps of cardboard… NOT your average bird-watching expedition. But a great spectacle, in the air and on the ground.

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My literacy-building hero

August 10th, 2009

BHFFotterhat

Wow! Congratulations to Cynthea Liu for her great Take the Dare: Show You Care fundraising effort for Tulakes Elementary. They raised $15,000 to support various literacy-building activities. Zowie. That’s a lot. I’m glad I could be a teeny little part of the effort. (I donated a Bubble Party Prize Package, with a copy of Bubble Homes, and prints, and cards, a bubble-stuff recipe, and bubble activities, such as ever-so-silly otter-face hat. See above.) I admire people who can organize, and motivate…