Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today is the official publication date for What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?. Hurray!! I am so excited to see it in bookstores at last. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Book Bash in review

Saturday's Book Bash was a lot of fun and a huge success, the place was packed! Lesson learned: partnering with a radio station for an event is super smart as they advertised the like crazy. Also, I am starting to see that events in smaller towns (as opposed to large metropolitan areas) seem to bring out more of a crowd, maybe because people's time isn't spread as thin with other events they could attend? Of course having great programming helps too, Jarrett (organizer of us book folks) and The River put on a great event and a good time was had by all. You can see more pictures on the radio station's web site, but here are some highlights...

The main room was filled with vendors of all kinds, including of course local independent book store The Odyssey:

There were art activities for kids all over the place, including this one that looks just like one of the art projects in Old Red Shoe (actually they were making May baskets):

Bands played all day on multiple stages, so of course there was lots of cute tiny kid dancing:

In between bands, us authors took the stage. I drew and read and talked about my new books:

After me came Timothy Basil Ering, who gave an amazing talk about how he gets his ideas, including an underwater video of catching lobsters at the Cape:

Jane Yolen took the stage next, and enthralled the audience with her reading of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? while she played a gorgeous animation of the art:

And to finish off the day Jarrett Krosoczka amped up the audience with his rock star reading of Punk Farm, the kids were in love:

Monday, March 30, 2009


As I know I've mentioned before, the best way for me to get out of a writing/illustrating wheel spin is to look at books I love and get fired up about making stuff. Recently Alison over at Shelftalker (also the lovely bookbuyer at the Wellesley Booksmith), recently lent me Sweaterweather and Robot Dreams by comic/kids book extraordinaire Sara Varon. I LOVE them. I love seeing the graphic novel/comic format done with cute, funny, sarcastic little animals, and I love her bittersweet tone and sensibility. And well, I love chickens and cats. And bunnies and dogs and robots. What could be better?

Here is a sampling of her work for your inspiration.

This next one is from Robot Dreams.

Lovely, no?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Furball Friday

Since I have lots of posts about my trip to Virginia this week, Furball Friday will feature some guest furballs I got to know on my trip. This is Wolly and Louise. They are the same age as our kittens (though not nearly as fat and misbehaved). If held end to end the fur on Wolly's tail could span nearly three continents.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Bash on Saturday

Just a reminder to folks in western Massachusetts looking for a fun event to bring their family to this Saturday, come join me at The River's Family Music Meltdown & Book Bash! I'll be doing a brief presentation at 11:40 am about how I made What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, then signing books afterwards. I am honored to join Jarrett Krosoczka (who co-organized the festival), Jane Yolen, and Timothy Basil Ering, who are also presenting. There will be great food, local vendors, storytelling, lots of bands performing, and activities like hula hooping and trapeze!

Saturday, March 28, 10 am - 4pm
JFK Middle School

Another SHOE review

"Alter suggests 12 projects that clearly show how items can be reused. For example, a single flip-flop can be turned into an art stamp. Each spread is devoted to an activity and begins with a poem that describes the demise of the item being recycled–“The waves came in creeping,/stealing, and sweeping–/they snatched Sarah’s flip-flop,/and took it away!” The step-by-step instructions are clear and concise, and the author does an excellent job of writing at the level of the intended audience. The instructions recommend adult help for cutting and sewing. The illustrations are of animals carrying out the instructions (raccoon, bunny, cat, etc.) and they are appealing . . . Tips for recycling and reuse are included. This is a great choice for environmental units and a valuable resource for parents interested in teaching their children about reuse at home."

--School Library Journal

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Virginia Festival of the Book

I am just settling back into Boston after a lovely in week in Charlottesville (my hometown) at the Virginia Festival of the Book. It wasn't quite as warm as other years, I didn't get to wear flip-flops like last year, but we did hit 70 on Wednesday! And I got to see some flowers in bloom before returning to the arctic north. Here is a little preview of spring for those of you weathering March in New England:

I was especially pleased to see these, clearly someone had an advance copy of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?:

The festival itself went great! I visited three head start programs, two elementary schools and met the most delightful librarians. On Saturday I threw an event open to the public at an art center with my mom, a local art teacher. The response was overwhelming- families began arriving half an hour before we planned to start, and quickly filled the room! As most authors will attest, its pretty challenging to draw people out to book signings these days, so I was really quite thrilled to see such a crowd. I was lucky enough to have my dad the photographer there taking pictures, he got this great shot of the room during my talk:

I began by comparing my very first book to my most recent, then went about explaining all the steps in between:

I finished by drawing some of the characters in RED SHOE:

Then invited kids to come color them in, which was a big hit:

After the talk kids rushed our recycling craft table, grown-ups had a peek at the original art for the book and I busily signed books and chatted with folks. All in all a great day! Its going to be a lovely spring.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Furball Friday

Before I do school visits I always test out my projector the night before, just in case. George and Wilbur were a rapt audience as I went over my slide show.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Attention traveling author/illustrators

Apparently digital projectors look like bombs. On my way to Virginia mine was twice removed from its carrying case, thoroughly inspected, and swiped repeatedly for some kind of dangerous something. Ha. They even took all my picture books out for a look. No one sneaks under the radar at Logan these days... which is a good thing, but jeez, I'm not hiding anything in my copy of The Three Little Kittens.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Off to Va Book

I'm headed to the Virginia Festival of the Book in the morning to start a week of school visits and events. I'll be doing my first presentation for What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? on Thursday. Wish me luck! I have a brand new slide show explaining how I did the crafts in the book and touching on environmental responsibility in a way I hope will be easy for kids to understand. I'll let you know how it goes when I return next week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Furball Friday

They like to sit in the tub after one of us showers. In puddles of water. They are so weird.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kindle 2 on Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart recently interviewed Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, about the new Kindle. Hilarious. I love how Jon clearly thinks that books are better!

I had a look at Alvina's Sony Reader awhile back and I actually didn't mind it as much as I thought I would, it really looks like you're reading paper instead of a screen. But, well, I'll still be checking books out of the library for a good long while.

Events this spring

In case you are not on my mailing list (which you should be! sign up here), I thought I would let you know about some events this spring where I will be celebrating the release of my new books What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? and Abigail Spells. I invite you all to come celebrate with me! If you live in any of the areas below (or even if you don't) I would love to see you there.

*I will be returning to the Virginia Festival of the Book. This year I am offering a free event where I will present the process of creating a book to kids, run an art activity, and sign books. All are invited!

Saturday March 21st at 12:30
McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, VA

*I will be reading, signing, and presenting about my books at The River's Family Music Meltdown & Book Bash. This will be a fun event, co-organized by fellow author Jarrett Krosoczka that includes book readingss, music, hula hooping, and trapeze!

March 28th from 10-4, my presentation will begin at 11:40 am
JFK Middle School in Northampton, MA

*Come celebrate Earth day with What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?. I will give a presentation about how the book was made, read and sign books, and run a recycled art activity for kids!

April 22nd at 3 pm
Wellesley Booksmith in Wellesley, MA

*Celebrate What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? at the Wenham Museum in coordination with the exhibit Soul of the Shoe. Artists interpret how shoes are shaped by our culture; from Boston Celtics star Larry Bird's famous Converse high tops to fancy dance shoes that graced the stages of Broadway in productions such as Cats, The Wizard of Oz, and others. I will read Red Shoe and do a presentation about how it was made, followed by a craft activity.

April 23rd at 10:30 am presentation
Wenham Museum in Wenham, MA
Craft activity and booksigning 11:00 to 1:00 pm

*I will be selling my new books and prints at the RISD Spring Alumni Sale with Grace Lin! Free Abigail Spells coloring sheets and spelling activities! Come by for an autographed book or just to chat.

May 2nd from 10-4:00 pm
Benefit Street in Providence, RI

Priscilla podcast

Just One More Book did a sweet little podcast review of Priscilla awhile back (just getting around to posting it now- sorry). Listen here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Made by hand: rows and rows of roses

I promise not to make this blog entirely about wedding planning (though it is tempting), but will be posting some crafty fun from time to time... planning a wedding offers oh so many opportunities to make stuff! Its really important to me that as many elements of our wedding as possible be handmade.

So this weekend I decided to try my hand at organza roses. Turns out its super easy and I think the result is pretty nice. First I gathered a few different shades of organza and cut out circular petals.

The next step is so singe the edges over a flame, then layer them on top of eachother.

Once you have a bunch layered, all that needs to be done is to sew a bead in the middle to hold the flower together.

Do I need 20 organza roses for my wedding? Not sure. But they were fun to make!

*Title of post is a quote from Like Likes Like by Chris Raschka

Friday, March 06, 2009

Furball Friday


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Winsome Tale

Another Abigail Spells review, yippee! This more than made my day.

"This winsome tale demonstrates the value of friendship during the trials and travails of life. The announcement of the school spelling bee delights Abigail. With George’s assistance, she earnestly begins preparing for the big day, gleefully spelling out words at every opportunity. However, besieged by stage fright during the contest, Abigail makes a mistake. George’s stalwart companionship and his wise words provide the devastated Abigail the comfort she needs. Alter’s simply told text deftly conveys the genuine affection between the friends and treats Abigail’s disappointment with the gravity it deserves. The enduring message of the inevitability of setbacks and the necessity of gracefully coping—with a little help from friends—will appeal to readers struggling with their own challenges. Heavily pigmented acrylic paintings impart a quaint, old-fashioned feel to the tale, imbuing it with a classic timelessness; the double-page close-up of Abigail’s moment of failure is a portrait of shame and disappointment embodied. Quiet and unassuming, this sympathetic testament to friendship is a great addition to a child’s shelf."


Tuesday, March 03, 2009