Banned Books–The Geography Club

With each September, the American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week.

I’m living for the day when there is no longer a need for it, but to celebrate this year’s marker I decided to give a shout out to a book that I consider important, but which meets a challenge each and every year: The Geography Club, by my colleague Brent Hartinger.

There’s a great interview with Brent about the banning of his book on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s website.

Time after time, stories with gay and lesbian characters are challenged. Sadly, that goes against the notion that all of our kids need stories that reflect who they are. Not only that, but stories like The Geography Club can show every reader that there are many ways to feel “not normal” and exclusivity is not the domain of any one group.

Brent Hartinger’s books are funny, scary, silly, irreverent and real, just like the kids he’s writing for. I hope you’ll share them with the kids in your lives.

Calloo, callay my homies!

By |September 28th, 2010|Books|Comments Off on Banned Books–The Geography Club

Spinning fire

Hi everyone–thought you might enjoy this live-action video of my oldest son Jacob playing with fire.

Calloo, callay!

Cathy Liles–Lifetime Achievement Award/BVCAA-WIC

Cathy Liles and I met back in the early ’80’s when both of us were new moms, and both of us became La Leche League leaders. Those were the tenderest of years. Breastfeeding my babies was one of the most important things I’ve ever done in this ol’ life, and it was equally important to have friends like Cathy to share those experiences with.

You could say that we grew up together, right alongside our children.

Here’s Cathy with her family. From left to right is youngest son Garrison, daughter Marisa, Cathy, husband Ben, and oldest son Benjamin.

And here she is with her own mom, Peggy.

Cathy has spent her life as an advocate for nursing babies and their mothers. She has served on the board for the International La Leche League; she has worked in international circles at the United Nations in developing policies that affect breastfeeding pairs; and she has been tireless in her support for better infant and maternal health.

No one deserves this lifetime achievement award more [...]

An Accordionist, Painted Cows & Flame Pits

Meet Big Joe Burrell

Big Joe was a much loved Burlington jazz/blues saxophonist/singer who passed away in 2005. Big Joe Burrell played in both B.B King’s and Count Basie’s band and moved to Burlington, Vermont in the mid-70s. Here he’s playing his sax forever on Church Street in downtown Burlington.

Ken and I spent a happy afternoon there after we left Montreal. The city elders have very wisely closed off the streets, creating an open air mall lined with shops, bistros, and… cows.

Plus, there is an assortment of street artists, one of whom is the very talented Leanna Therese Inzalaco. We loved watching her perform on her beautiful red and brown accordion.

Isn’t she amazing? Even the dogs agreed!

We loved it that Church Street is named Church Street for the elegant and historic Unitarian Universalist church at the top of the street. Happy 200th birthday! That’s 200, people!

And okay, my last video from my stay in Vermont is too good to not share, even though I didn’t catch the entire song, and the filming is shaky [...]

Uma Krishnaswami–"Out of the Way! Out of the Way!"

While I was still in Vermont, I was able to catch my colleague, the amazing Uma Krishnaswami, to chat about her brand new picture book, Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, which is illustrated by…ahem…Uma Krishnaswamy. No, they’re not the same person with variations on the spelling of their last names. But they have joined together to create an utterly charming new book, one that has all the makings of a classic.

Uma is the author of several picture books and novels for children. She lives with her family, which includes four cats, in Aztec, NM. She is also the author the wonderful blog, Writing With A Broken Tusk, a blog about “story, overlapping geographies, and the creation of books for children.”

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! is published in nine different languages by Tulika Books in India, and will soon be released by the Canadian publishers Groundwood Books.

Uma teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’m so fortunate to call Uma my friend.

By |August 1st, 2010|Author interviews, Books, Cats|Comments Off on Uma Krishnaswami–"Out of the Way! Out of the Way!"

Montreal–Art, Music and Graffiti

From Burlington, VT, the drive to Montreal is only a couple of hours long, so Ken and I climbed into our nifty rent car and made the trek. Thanks to a suggestion from my colleague Tim Wynne-Jones, we stayed in the perfect hotel: The Chateaux Versailles.

It was in a great location, just blocks from the Museum of Fine Arts where we stumbled onto a fantastic exhibit about the famous jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis.

And all up and down Sherbrooke Ave., there were “Art Mooses”:

Montreal is a very walkable city. We spent a large portion of one day strolling down the Canal de Lachine, starting at the Atwater Market, and ending up at the old wharves.

Here I am walking in an alleyway between two buildings in the old port.

Here’s our live-action walking tour:

Oh how I loved Babar en Ville! The folks there were so nice…and they even had a copy of Keeper in the window.

By |July 29th, 2010|Books, Family and Friends, Music, Travel|Comments Off on Montreal–Art, Music and Graffiti

The Flying Pig

While we were in Vermont, Ken and I visited the world-famous Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne. One of the owners, Elizabeth Bluemle, is a graduate of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and Vermont College of Fine Arts. We found a copy of her book, Dogs on the Bed, among the thousands of picture books displayed there.

What a wonderful bookstore!

And while you’re in Shelburne, be sure to drop in to Bistro Sauce and enjoy their wonderful cuisine.

Good things are happening in Shelburne, VT.

Calloo, callay!

By |July 25th, 2010|Books, Travel|1 Comment

Rita Williams Garcia Talks About ONE CRAZY SUMMER

UPDATE: Rita’s book was just named a finalist for The National Book Award! Hooray!

Despite the busy schedule of the summer residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Rita Williams Garcia took time to talk about her new book, ONE CRAZY SUMMER.

What are you waiting for….go get a copy and read it!

Rita Williams Garcia–Jump Rope Champ

We all knew that RWG had many, many talents. But who knew that she was a jump rope machine?

That Rita!

By |July 12th, 2010|Books|Comments Off on Rita Williams Garcia–Jump Rope Champ

VCFA, Cats and Rita Williams Garcia's Dream House

I’m here at Vermont College for the summer residency. But leaving home is always a little bittersweet.

I love being here, but I do miss those cats. And seriously, people, have you ever seen anything cuter than Hoss and Peach in their snuggle mode?

Purrrrrr…

Then again, Rita’s dream house is pretty darned cute too, not to mention the lovely Rita herself…

Wish you were here!