This week we had our last visitor before heading back east, fellow Blue Rose GirlGrace came out to meet baby Tilda and do a little business. She remembered to take many more pictures than I did (I've got some serious mama brain), but here are a few highlights.
On Monday we went into Chronicle Books. I am a fan of their books, stationary, and journals so it was a thrill to see where they are made (our baby book came from them and we adore it so).
We met with the lovely Melissa Manlove, who chatted with us about upcoming projects and gave us a tour of the incredible offices there (Melissa and Grace below).
The first floor has several retail spaces where you can check out their new titles (that is me trying to restrain myself from buying mountains of books for Tilly).
I wish I got a picture of the clever way they displayed many of the books... they used reclaimed wood beams that looked like they were from nearby piers, turned on their ends, with books set on top. Maybe Grace got a picture? So cool. The offices were so modern and hip, it looked like a really fun place to go to work every day. They actually had a construction room with a sewing machine and other tools... it was sort of like an art school studio.
There were also celebrities just hanging out in some of the editor's cubes (can you spot Johnny Depp below?).
Then we packed up the baby and headed to Chinatown.
We wandered through alleyways looking for a fortune cookie factory Grace read about (she'll have better pictures here too).
After a lovely lunch (not just fortune cookies, though they were delicious), we meandered into an amazing tea shop, filled floor to ceiling with a million kinds of tea.
We sat at the bar and were treated to samples of many exotic flavors by our host, who seemed to know everything there is to know about every tea in existence. We tried Chrysanthemum seed, Lychee, Jasmine Pearl, Ginseng, Coconut, and a sweet buttery tea that smelled like popcorn.
They even had a rose tea brewed using the entire blossom.
Though the fanciest of all was called Cloudy Mist Iron Goddess, it was $800 a pound! Personally I liked the Lychee better. But then I know nothing about tea.
Once we were nice and caffeinated, we headed over to the Embarcadero to the TCHO Chocolate factory. There we tried a "chocolate shot", it is something like drinking chocolate lava. YUM.
All in all a lovely, rejuvenating visit. Every time we have a new guest we get to be tourists in this town we've been staying in and see something new.
In a few short weeks my new book, A Photo for Greta, will be out at last! You might remember some of the paintings I posted as I was working on it last summer here , here, and here.
While the illustrations were done last summer, the book has been in progress for a long time. Its a story I've always wanted to write about growing up with a dad who is a photographer (which mine was). Here is a photo he took of me when I was about 4, which we used on the jacket flap:
I painted a version of it on the endpapers:
I've been putting together some promotional materials for schools (more on that soon) and some behind the scenes peeks of the making of the book on my web site. This weekend I made this little painting in progress "movie" out of photos of one of the illustrations. I hope it will make the painting process clear to kids who watch it...
I hope you're doing something fun to celebrate! I'll be heading to Earth Day SF tomorrow to check out the festivities.
If you have kids at home and want to host your own festivities, don't forget What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? has lots of ideas for demonstrating reuse to the little ones in a simple, low-key, creative way. Visit the free stuff page for coloring pages, activity sheets, and a curriculum guide for download.
"With intriguing patterned backgrounds among which our hero and his shy cohorts find refuge, Alter's nicely illustrated Disappearing Desmond provides a bit of visual fun spotting the elusive Desmond and his bashful mates, while providing an easy-going bit of bibliotherapy for the group gifted with the undiscovered riches of the shy classmate. As School Library Journal remarks, 'a reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others.'"
A few days ago I had a friend visiting who told me a story about one of my books. During the holidays this past year she visited a family whose kids have a mountain of toys. She was warned not to give them anything, that they had more than enough. But of course you can't show up empty handed, so she brought along a copy of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? and gave it to their little girl, who then disappeared into her room.
Later on in the evening she was found dragging a big box of toys down the stairs. "What are you doing?" asked her mom. "The book said if you have too many toys you should give them away." And in fact it does. The last activity in the book begins with a poem about this fellow, who has too many toys:
What can you do with too many toys? You can pile them up and give them away to people who need them:
Her story made my day. With Earth Day coming up next week I thought it was worth sharing. Now I'm off to pile up all the baby stuff we no longer need and make a trip to good will.