Book Signing Collage

Thank you to the staff of Womrath’s Bookstore in Bronxville, NY for being the perfect hosts for this past weekend’s book signing. This was the big local signing that a lot of my peeps (aka friends and family) were looking forward to attending.

There was only one drawback. It was an absolutely beautiful, warm day – the first since fall began! The normally bustling town was much quieter than usual. We writers love rain! Rain drives people to bookstores.

My peeps came, bought lots o books, and made it a very special day. As the guys from Ghost Hunters say at the end of every episode, “On to the next!”

I wanted to share some pics from the event. Hope you can be in the future ones!

Ah, the before picture of my author table. Every time the book pile went down. more were added!

Ah, the before picture of my author table. Every time the book pile went down. more were added!

Best pic of the day. Me surrounded by my niece Jessica and her friend Marina.

Best pic of the day. Me surrounded by my niece Jessica and her friend Marina.

My head was down a lot as I signed books!

My head was down a lot as I signed books!

Dandelion Me Cat

My niece Kathryn eyeing those cookies and donuts!

Nice little set up to greet folks as they walked by the store.

Nice little set up to greet folks as they walked by the store.

 

 

Interviewed by Mr. Schu!

I was recently honored to be interviewed on Mr. Schu’s legendary blog (www.mrschureads.blogspot.com)! This is my first interview about The Dandelion’s Tale. Read on to find out my personal opinion on the importance of school libraries, the relationship between Sparrow and Dandelion and my favorite picture book when I was young, many, many moons ago.

Mr. Schu started a sentence, and it was my job to complete it. I have to try this method when I do interviews.

The Dandelion’s Tale tells the story of a puffy, white dandelion who is worried that once her remaining seed pods blow away, no one will be left to remember her. A passing sparrow hears her cries and befriends the tiny flower. As she tells the sparrow her life’s story, her new friend writes it all in a dry patch of dirt so it can be read over and over. It’s tale of friendship and the cycle of life, as the dandelion’s tale is passed on to the next generation of bright, young dandelions that grow in the meadow.
dandelion mr schu
 
Rob Dunlavey’s illustrations are simply perfect. His beautiful artwork really captures the heart and soul of the story and are far more than I could have ever expected. When Schwartz & Wade made their offer, I had a mental image of what I felt the illustrations should look like. When I was growing up, I was a huge fan of the little Golden Books. I didnt’ know Rob and we had no interaction, so I was both curious and nervous while I waited for his final product. I almost fell off my chair when I saw the first set of proofs. It was exactly, and I make no exaggeration here, the way I pictured and hoped it to be. A lot of parents will get nostalgic when they see it for themselves.
School libraries are an essential part of every child’s education and development. I learned so much from the books I checked out over the years and I’m especially grateful to all of the librarians who helped a little voracious reader expand his interests. Going down to the library was always the highlight of my week in school (next to lunch and punchball games at recess!). That’s where my love of books really blossomed. I wouldn’t be a writer today if I hadn’t gotten that initial exposure to books in my school library.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what my favorite picture book of all time is. The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift is the first picture book I remember treasuring when I was in first grade. It also came with a floppy record that read the story to me and had all kinds of sound effects and music. I would read that book and play the record multiple times a day. The best part was learning that it was based on an actual little red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. It’s only 10 minutes from my house. Whenever I see it, I feel like a kid again.

A Wonderful Review

I have to admit, I’ve been blown away by the reception The Dandelion’s Tale has received. Reviewers and readers have been so positive. When you write a book and have a chance to share it with the world, there’s always that voice in the back of your head, worrying what the feedback will be. Writers always assume the worst. :)

Booklist just printed the following review and I thought I’d share it with everyone.

Dandelion’s glory days are coming to an end. Her bright yellow flower has evolved into just 10 seedpods, and she is concerned no one will remember she ever existed once the seedlings blow away. When Sparrow learns about her fears, the bird suggests writing down Dandelion’s memories. The two happily collaborate: Dandelion reminisces about squirrels and meadows, and Sparrow pecks the memory in the dirt. The morning after a storm, Sparrow discovers Dandelion didn’t survive and neither did her story. But all is not lost. He can tell her story and finds the perfect audience: new little dandelions that started as 10 seedlings. The charming illustrations are in blues, browns, and greens when the bird and plant are conversing, and tinged in golden light when memories are related. The ink, watercolor, colored pencil, crayon, and digital media pictures have an old-fashioned feel and showcase the moving story of keeping memory alive. Although sophisticated in concept, this feels right for the age group and would be beneficial in helping children cope with losing a loved one.

It’s been such a thrill to walk into bookstores and libraries and find copies everywhere. Random House/Schwartz & Wade have been amazing every step of the way. I’m busy getting story time and appearances lined up throughout the rest of the year, so hopefully I’ll be in your neck of the woods some day!

If anyone is interested in a school visit (in-person or remote), just contact me through the comments here and I’ll be happy to see if I can accomodate. It’s been a while since I was in school. It will be fun to see how things have changed. Do they still give detention? Ah, the glory days.

Come Join Me In Bronxville!

Slide1I’ve been busy working on a poster to post in the window of Womrath’s bookstore in Bronxville, NY, the location for my next signing. After I was finished with the poster, I started looking for crafts for the kids. So far, I’ve bought flower pinwheels to hand out, but I’m still looking for any ready-made crafts that involve dandelions or sparrows.

Does anyone have any suggestions? For the authors, what has worked best for you to make a signing a fun time for your young fans?

Oh, and if you’re in the Bronxville area in 2 weeks, stop by and say hello!

That First Reading

Ever since I signed with Schwartz & Wade 4 years ago to publish The Dandelion’s Tale, I’ve been preparing for a whole new world. I read to my girls when they were little every day and night, but I’ve never read a book, let alone a book I wrote, to children that weren’t related to me. :)

I was charged with 4 years of excitement when I drove out to Brooklyn last week to do my very first story time. And as usual, nothing was as easy as I had planned.

It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday. Somehow my teenage daughters were able to get up and out of the house on time, since they were going to help me read the book at story time. Samantha was going to play the part of the dandelion and Star was the sparrow. We picked up my mother and headed south.

Imagine my horror when we got near NYC and saw police and stopped cars everywhere! Turns out, my planned route to Brooklyn was closed off for a marathon. Casting my eyes heavenward, I crawled along into the heart of the city, avoiding blockades and changing routes. I finally made it over the bridge into Brooklyn and figured, great, I’m here, this will be smooth sailing to the bookstore.

Dandelion Powerhouse on 8th March 2014

Wrong. Brooklyn was closing its streets for their St. Patrick’s Day parade. I wish I counted the number of times I said, “You can’t make this up!”

Wending through streets I hadn’t been on for 30 years, my gps took me to a brownstone. No bookstore in sight. That’s because I had plugged in the wrong address! I called the store and explained that the travel gods were against me but I was close.

I finally found the store and parked illegally at the edge of the parade route. I asked a cop if it was okay and he said no one would care about my car today. Whew!

Powerhouse

We hustled to the store and saw a dozen little kids already set up for story time. The owner had kindly been reading other books to keep their attention until I arrived.

I had barely taken off my coat before I was handing out stickers and little rubber bracelets to the kids. And then it was time for me and my helpers to read. The super small kids wandered and did their own thing while the older ones listed and joined in the fun.

And after 4 years of waiting and wondering how my first story time would go and fighting through traffic, marathons and parades, it was over in what seemed the blink of an eye. What I did discover is that I loved it. Al that nervous energy and doubt washed away in seconds.

I can’t wait to do more. In fact, I’m in the process of lining up a year’s worth of story times.

Now I just need to get a list of marathons and plan around them.

Getting Ready for Story Time

Yes, that’s me tucked behind the pages of The Dandelion’s Tale, getting ready for my very first story time this coming Sunday (March 16th) at Powerhouse on 8th in Brooklyn, NY.

Kevin Reading

I squirreled myself away in my daughter’s room while she was at school to read the book aloud to my cat. I’ve done plenty of story times, but only to my daughters or nieces or nephew. Sunday will be the first time I get to read any kind of book to kids not directly related to me. I have a few surprises and treats in store for everyone who comes.

Now excuse me while I go through the book again. Maybe this time, the cat will be awake.

How Sparrow and Dandelion Came to Be

Ever wanted to see the creative process behind the illustrations in a picture book? Rob Dunlavey, the incredible artist for The Dandelion’s Tale, was recently interviewed at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

dandelion_14-15dREVuse

You’ll get to see the progression of the artwork, from Rob’s early sketches right to the finished product. It’s the first time even I’ve gotten to see it. Makes me wish I kept at art when I was a kid.

The Dandelion’s Tale will officially be born on Tuesday, March 11th!

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