Taking Flight!

taking off!Summers here and it’s time to take off and fly! Despite the heat and inevitable New Jersey humidity, weve been more out and about than in a long time.

Everywhere we go is crowded with kids on summer vacation who’ve not entered some form of camp yet and the air is buzzing with Popsicle possibilities and the promise of chilled watermelon slices, cannonballs into the pool, and beachside novels.

As for me, I’ve been preparing for a number of author visits scheduled for July and August, many of them at farmers markets. I’m looking forward heading up to the Peekskill Farmers’ Market in Peekskill, New York, this Saturday, and coming back down on Sunday to the Frenchtown Farmers’ Market booth of the Book Garden. At both markets I’ll  do readings, sign books, and host a scavenger hunt for the visiting children. It should be a lot of fun!

So in the words of the Hudson Library & Historical Society’s April 2014 “Recommended Reads”:

Just in time for summer, Cheers for a Dozen Ears takes readers on a trip to a farmers market during a hot day in August.  Children can count and rhyme their way through favorite summertime fruits and veggies, including watermelon and a dozen ears of corn. There is plenty to see on each page of brightly colored collages. Find a cozy spot in the shade to read this book before your next outing to the local farmers market.

I’ll make the lemonade!

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School Visits!

Francis A. Desmares School VisitLast week I visited with the kindergarten and first-grade classes at my son’s elementary school. It was both daunting and delightful, in part because it was one of the first school visits I’ve done as a new picture book author, and in part because I knew many of the kids and the teachers. It was lovely to call up to the front of the group to help me read some of my son’s bus stop compatriots—and what great readers they were!—but when I first looked into the sea of approximately eighty six-year-olds… I gulped! I’m a rather retiring individual, and I knew that speaking to such large and lively audiences would be a challenge.

I was right and wrong. They were polite and educated listeners, more aware and sophisticated than expected, while we discussed how a picture book gets published. But when we got to playing the rhyming game I created based on Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A Summer Crop of Counting (the second book in my rhyming picture book series), it was no holds barred. And I loved it!

The children took turns picking a play fruit or vegetable from the basket I brought to the visit, and together we came up with rhyming words, and then rhyming lines, based on the item selected: pear–share, carrot—parrot, and so on.

The kids had fun and were fearless in their wordplay! Each session’s end-time came too quickly, and we were so busy I forgot to take photos.

For a shy poet, nothing is more stimulating than versecraft in action. And for a children’s writer, nothing is more inspiring than an audience of active minds. It reminded me how much young readers feel and are capable of understanding.

I thank Meredith Weil, Desmares librarian, for her terrific hospitality, the Francis A. Desmares PTO for inviting me to speak with the children, and especially Diane Frey for scheduling the details.

Happy Summer, and congratulations to my beautiful son and all his fellow fourth graders as they say farewell to Desmares and hello to the rest of their education.

Rhyme on! 

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