Thursday, February 24, 2011

Desmond review on Kids Lit

Thanks for the lovely review of Disappearing Desmond!

"A successful book about shyness without the focus on the painful nature of it, this book offers a hand of comfort and friendship to shy children hidden everywhere."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Priscilla and the Hollyhocks play

Black History Month observance: Calvary Baptist Church and the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace collaborate on Anne Broyles' "Priscilla and the Hollyhocks," a special musical presentation by fiddler Marie Rawlings and the Youth of Calvary Baptist Church, directed by Joseph Devoe. Admission is free to the performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Calvary Baptist Church, 13 Ashland St., Haverhill. Snow date is Monday, Feb. 21. The performance celebrates local poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier and Haverhill's place as a stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped escaped slaves reach Canada, and freedom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet things

Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day yesterday! We made a visit, at last, to the incredible Tartine Bakery down the street from where we're staying in San Francisco. I've been hearing about this place for some time, but every time we've tried to go there was a line down the block to get in. So yesterday we headed out early and thankfully made it through the door. It every bit deserves its reputation for having the best sweets in the city. We had chocolate croissants still warm from the oven, apple brioche bread pudding, and these delicious chocolate hazelnut tarts.

After arriving home I got some sweet news. Disappearing Desmond has been included in the Cooperative Children's Book Center's best-of-the-year list. Hurray! I am truly honored to have Desmond on the list. Grace is on there too with Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

The complete list will be here on March 5th. Congrats to everyone!

Lastly baby made some sweet progress this weekend. For the very first time she lifted her head up during "tummy time"! These days you have to give babies time on their belly, since its not considered safe to let them sleep that way, so they can learn to lift their head to prepare for crawling. Normally Wren cries the whole time, but this weekend she not only smiled through it but got some lift! I am a very proud mama.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Furball Friday

Being a big brother is exhausting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What she likes

As I mentioned in this post, while I've got plenty of picture books on the shelf (though I have yet to determine which will be allowed into little hands and which will stay in perfect condition), I've never collected many board books. Now that I have a little one our board book library is increasing.

While baby clearly has little idea why we keep holding these boxy little pages in front of her she does seem to have some preferences. What they say about babies being attracted to high contrast images must be true, because she loves looking at this book:

By the same token Hungry Caterpillar always keeps her transfixed (I guess its a classic for a reason!). I think the bold shapes are easy for her to see, and the colors very appealing.

Here is another favorite, which I quite adore. Like I posted here, the story is so sweet and the artwork so delicate and beautiful. I love the combination of graphic shapes with collaged textures.

Lastly as a side note, when she's not looking at books baby just loves to look at her birds. She just stares and stares. Remember when we found them on a BRG weekend at Libby's? That was very lucky because they are baby's very favorite thing to look at. We first hung them in the living room and began to notice her gazing at them. When we brought her up close they would never fail to produce a grin, so we moved one string above her changing table. Now every time we change her, she looks up at them and smiles ear to ear.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

Furball Friday

Furball Fridays are back! George and Wilbur have been a bit blue since baby arrived, so I've promised them lots of photo shoots to make up for it. They're thinking over the offer.

(Photo by Gary Alter)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Desmond in Booklist

This lovely review of Disappearing Desmond came out in the fall, I am late to post it for obvious reasons. Than you Booklist!

"Whether he is talcum-powdered white to look like a statue in an art museum or dressed in green while sitting in a tree, Desmond, a shy cat, likes to blend in with his environment, much like David Lucas’ Halibut Jackson (2004). Used to being ignored, Desmond is surprised when new student Gloria, a gregarious rabbit who enjoys speaking up and standing out, notices him wherever he tries to hide. After Gloria finds Desmond in the library and they read together all morning long, the classmates become inseparable playmates. Brandishing a new attire and self-confidence to boot, Desmond can’t remember why he ever wanted to disappear and spots another camouflaged friend. The final double-page spread includes numerous hidden students for readers to find. With a nod to her own Abigail Spells (2009), Alter’s pleasing acrylic illustrations feature more of her adorable animals and geometric and patterned backdrops. A reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others."

— Angela Leeper, Booklist, November 15th, 2010

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ten weeks

Its been ten weeks since I had a baby and I think its fair to say life as I knew it has been turned on its head. There are of course the obvious changes: the day is now structured around the needs of a tiny, hungry, brand new person who doesn't care much for my to do list. I'm lucky if I can get one errand done in a day.

Time has slowed to a snail's pace when it comes to cooking and laundry, but its also flying by. Baby grows and changes at light speed. She's gone from 6 pounds 11 oz to almost 13 pounds in her short life, from seeing only a foot in front of her to being able to track me from across the room, and most remarkably gone from a distant, sleepy gaze to broad faced grins like these:

The grins are the best. They make my heart explode with happiness. I would do anything for them.

But the biggest change that first hit like a mac truck and has since been winding its way through my thoughts has to do with the way I think of myself. Like most artists and writers, I've always leaned pretty heavily on my work to define who I am. Its what makes me feel different and special and unique, the thing that I have to offer the world. Strangely that is shifting. Having a kid is perhaps the most commonplace thing a person can do. It doesn't make me different at all, if anything it makes me more like everyone else. But it feels so profoundly beautiful in all its commonness.

There is a quote from one of my new mom books that I love:

"A few weeks ago, my baby gave me a flower. Never mind that ... it was missing a few petals, or that he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to let it go. It was-and is-the most gorgeous flower ever given or received. Silver and gold wouldn't buy it from me ... These aren't just my hands anymore; they belong to a lineage of mothers a planet wide and millenia old. I was a woman on an April evening in a kitchen in my corner of the world, catching time between the pages of a baby book, and at the same time, I was my mother, her mother, a mother somewhere on another continent carefully tucking a flower into the pocket of her shirt, a flower you couldn't buy from her with silver or gold. We don't know each other, but all over the world and all through time, we're gathering up wilted flowers and misspelled love notes, and every single one of us knows the singular ache that's love and pride and sadness all mixed into one."

-The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Part of me feels sad that the life I had is gone- no more staying up all night to finish a painting or feverishly devoting every waking thought to a story idea. Now my time is scheduled and my job is to make the most of the time I have in front of the computer, when I have it. But I also feel deeply excited about this new life. Mother love is fierce and unending. As I find my way back into making books I do so with a wilted flower in my pocket.