April 22, 2012

FUN at the St. Lucie County Family Reading Festival

When my friend, Sylvia Andrews, picked me up for the St. Lucie County Family Reading Festival, we were prepared for one thing:  RAIN!  Forecast was for thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

Turns out the forecast should have been for FUN! 

Miss Frizzle, me and Clifford

At the Digital Domain baseball stadium, where the event was held, a line of parents with eager kids stretched farther than I could see, waiting for the gates to open.

Sylvia and I set up our table at Authors Alley and spent the next few hours watching and chatting with an endless stream of families, teachers and librarians.

When there was a break in the crowd, I was able to snap this photo of Authors Alley

Next to our table was a 22-year-old young man who had written three novels.  Across from us were two fourth grade authors and their teacher.  The profits from their book went to help the sea turtles.  (Yes, Sylvia and I each bought autographed copies.)  And there were a bazillion (or maybe fewer) authors/illustrators, including our talented friend, Janeen Mason.  Did you see her lovely picture book,  GIFT OF THE MAGPIE?

Here's Janeen with hand-made magpie pins on her collars  

Our dear friend and talented author, Carole Crowe, showed up.

Author, Carole Crowe

The stream of kids seemed endless, and we loved it!

Here's a young reader checking out Sylvia's FUNTASTIC picture book, RATTLEBONE ROCK.  If you love Halloween and fun rhyme and rhythm, this book is for you!

Checking out Rattlebone Rock by Sylvia Andrews

Nate the Great made an appearance, although I'm so dang old I thought he was Encyclopedia Brown.

Sylvia and Nate the Great

I got to do some serious sleuthing, too.

Donna and Nate the Great

There was so much going on at the festival:  author panels, a full day of entertainment onstage by the dynamic duo of Riley Roam and Kenny Mikey of Page Turner Adventures, puppet theater, Scholastic book fair, a FREE book exchange so every child could leave with free books, author signings, character sightings, student performances, a concession stand, Mother Goose corner, giveaways, goodie bags for each child who entered and so much more!

The children who stopped by to chat and tell me about themselves or the books they loved just humbled me.  One boy held the book I'd just autographed for him and said, "This is my first book I've ever had signed by an author."  The look in his eyes made my day!  A woman told me the saddest story of a young friend of hers who was being bullied in fifth grade.  She asked me to sign How to Survive Middle School for him because it's a story of being bullied and learning to survive.  Coincidentally, her young friend's name was David, just like the main character in my story.  I wrote a message of support and hope for the real David.  I hope the fictional David helps him.

I got to meet Crystal and her mother.  Crystal, looking much more grown up, had posed for this picture during a school visit I did early this year at Manatee Academy.

Crystal, my author escort, rockin' a pair of red sunglasses.

I loved chatting with the kids who wanted to be writers and the adults who did, too.  It was heartening to see so much community support and so much enthusiasm for books and reading.  This festival gave a powerful message to the young people who attended:  READING MATTERS TO US!

Geronimo Stilton surprises a young reader.

Debbie Remington, President of the St. Lucie County Reading Council, is a wonder.  She's the powerhouse behind this amazing festival.  I can't thank her enough for inviting me into the fold of this vibrant community! 

Donna and Debbie Remington, Media Specialist at Manatee Academy and Pres. St. Lucie County Reading Council

And a big thank you to the teachers, librarians and students who volunteered and worked so hard to make this an absolutely FANTABULOUS event!

Turns out the weather was perfect, after all.

See you all next year!

April 16, 2012

Make Something Amazing Happen Right Now . . .

Talented author/illustrator Marissa Moss has a dream:  She wants to produce picture books the way they used to be made -- great attention to detail, extensive author illustrator support, etc. -- by creating a brand new publishing company.

She's written about her vision for CRESTON BOOKS on Kickstarter

I'm so excited about Marissa's idea that I immediately donated to help fund the project.  So have a lot of other people.  But she needs a few more people to step up to the plate TODAY!

As I write this, Marissa is only a little over $6,000 away from her goal of $50,000.  Only $6,000 people!

But here's the kicker with Kickstarter:  Her project has to be fully funded by THIS THURSDAY or she gets none of the money and her dream fizzles. 

Won't you donate RIGHT NOW?  Even five bucks will help, and you'll get entered to win a great prize.  In fact, each donation comes with a gift.

Check it out HERE.

Thank you for helping make this dream a reality . . . before time runs out!




April 13, 2012

Four Things on a Friday . . .

1.  A million bazillion years ago, I worked as an editor at a greeting card company near Philadelphia, so I had my eye on several cartoonists.  (It was a very painful condition for my eye.)

My favorite cartoonist then and now is Mark Parisi of Off the Mark.  He has over 7,000 cartoons.  If you don't want to look at all 7,000, this one is my favorite.

2.  The president.  Now, I know the president is usually doing serious stuff, like running the country and dealing with other people running other countries, but sometimes he takes a break to do something really nice, like read Where the Wild Things Are to a bunch of kids.  He makes the best faces, hand gestures and roaring/gnashing sounds.  (Even his dog seemed interested.)


3.  Katie Davis is the Queen of Awesome.  As if creating a weekly podcast about children's books (Brain Burps About Books) were not enough, she's celebrating National Poetry Month by hosting a different poet each day on her bloggity blog

There's a mecca of poets over on Katie's blog:  Jane Yolen, Lee Wardlaw, Bobbi Katz, Marilyn Singer, Laura Purdie Salas, Gail Carson Levine and many more.  You'll find advice, samples, tips, a podcast, video and much more.

Check out Alan Katz's super fun video:

4.  Finally, if Corey Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, wasn't your hero before, he's everyone's hero now.  He rescued a woman from her home, which was engulfed in flames.  (By the way, he was my hero before!)

Have a most wonderful weekend!

April 9, 2012

When You Give an Author a Thank You Letter . . .

She's going to get all weepy when she opens the big yellow envelope and sees this . . .

Then she's going to read each and every letter about our recent Skype visit, like one by Logan, who said I encouraged him to write, so he wrote 3 stories and 27 poems.  Yowza, Logan!

And this one by Hannah, who says that when she grows up, she wants to be an awseome writer just like me.  It seems like Hannah's pretty awesome.  Right?

Then the author is clearly going to need a tissue to wipe away her happy tears.  And a cookie and a glass of milk because an envelope full of these . . .

clearly makes an author a little verklempt, but not so verklempt that she can't write a thank you note in response.

So, Ms. Keane's wonderfully thoughtful kids, this Dr. Seuss "Thank You" card is coming your way soon!

April 3, 2012


Did you ever read a book that was so good, you slowed it down, you put it down because you didn't want it to end?

The last book I remember making me feel that way was Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  Before that, I think Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust swept me away like that.

I've had that experience again.  I've read a book that not only delved deeply into the characters and their relationships, but transcended them and touched on our larger humanity, our inner-connectedness.  This book told the truth in a universal way.  It let us in on sweet bravery and the power of kindness.  It was filled with hope and love.

That book is WONDER by P.J. Palacio.

WONDER's ripples will spread beyond the realm of children's literature to the larger world.  I hope it wins the Newbery Medal.  (Read more at this NPR interview.)