Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Barrington Books’ Annual Children’s Books Authors & Illustrators Event

Hope to see you at Barrington Books this Saturday, October 29th for spooky story hour, treats, crafts, and lots of good BOO-ks! I'll be the lady with the giant spider on her head. Check out this year's line-up!
Event Schedule
10 am-12pm
  • Jamie Michalak – Joe and Sparky, Superstars! Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels
  • Alison Paul – The Crow; Sunday Love

12-2 pm
  • Anika & Christopher Denise – Bella and Stella Come Home; Pigs Love Potatoes
  • RW & ZoĆ« Alley – There’s A Princess In The Palace; There’s A Wolf At The Door
  • Willa Perlman – Goodnight, World; Pocket Kisses
* Spooky Story Hour will begin at 1 pm – costumes encouraged!
2-4 pm
  • Pamela Lowell – Returnable Girl; Spotting for Nellie
  • Liz McGrath – The Ghouls Come Haunting One by One
  • Sarah L. Thomson – Mercy: The Last New England Vampire; Dragon’s Egg; The Dragon’s Son; Pirates, Ho! Three Cups of Tea (Young Reader’s Edition)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Q & A and Book Giveaway!

Award-winning author and one of the nicest people on the planet, Clara Gillow Clark, kindly invited me to be a guest on her blog. Click here for our little chat about crazy families, noses, and early readers.

If you haven't yet read Clara's novels about Hill Hawk Hattie, you must run to your local bookstore right this minute and get them. Grab a box of tissues while you're at it. I've yet to meet anyone who's read Hill Hawk Hattie without being deeply touched by it. You will love these books.

Clara will be announcing the winners of personalized Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels and Joe and Sparky, Superstars! tomorrow morning.

What Joe and Sparky Did on Their Summer Vacation

Oh dear.  I'm a little behind on blogging. Imagine, if you will, that it's late August.

Joe and Sparky had the rare privilege of spending their summer in the Barrington Public Library. They were part of the Children's Department's popular Summer Reading Club.

This year's theme was "One World, Many Stories." Check out the story hour room's eye-catching displays of favorite read-alouds. . . .
Joe and Sparky hang out with Elmer and Rose.

(Believe it or not, I was sitting on that step for five minutes waiting to sign up my sons for the book club before I turned around and noticed the giant Joe. What a surprise! I think there was some squealing and leaping with joy. And perhaps a fist-pumping victory lap around the room . . . Erm, this is getting embarrassing. Let's move on.)

The Greedy Python, Koala Lou, and Tacky the Penguin.
A small Sox fan spins the wheel to see which category he may choose a book from. 

The children return to the library to answer questions about the books they've read. This fellow reads a question from the cap he's chosen off the Caps for Sale tree.

Notice how the camera-shy Sparky is trying to jump off that log before I snap his photo. Too slow, my small green friend!
Thanks to the dynamite children's librarians of the Barrington Public Library for hosting Joe and Sparky this summer!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Congratulations to these Superstar Libraries . . .

Curious City has announced the winners of the Joe and Sparky book giveaway. Copies of Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels and Joe and Sparky, Superstars! are on their way to the stellar libraries below.

If you didn't win, you can still DOWNLOAD the Activity Kit and take the Joe & Sparky Personality Test for a spot of fun.

Hillcrest Elementary School BC
Bristol Public Library CT
Mabry Elementary School FL
Brookdale Elementary GA
Monticello Public Library IA
Plainfield Public Library IL
West Lafayette Public Library IN
Cleveland Elementary School Library MA
Limerick Public Library ME
Norway Memorial Library ME
MCLS: Bedford Branch MI
Dakota County Heritage Library MN
Horace Mann Elementary School NY
Hudson Library & Historical Society OH
Bishop Elementary OK
Lucknow Central P.S. ON
Adrian School Library OR
Stewart Heights Elementary School SC
Richneck Elementary VA
Craft Memorial Library WV

Woodland Elementary School Is Awesome

I love visiting schools. One of the last school visits of the year was to this one in Southwick, Massachusetts:

Thank you, Woodland Elementary School!
I was lucky enough to spend two whole days with the kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students of Woodland Elementary School. You should know that they are EXTREMELY smart and talented. During the presentations, they brainstormed oodles of story ideas and had lots of excellent questions. (My favorites: "Does your hand ever get tired?" and "What did your mom think when you got published?")

We had a pizza party in the library, where the guests offered many exciting ideas for a third Joe and Sparky story. Like these:


And they are not just gifted authors. They are artists, too. Check out what the kindergarten class did!

Stunning hallway display by the Woodland Elementary School kindergartners

Can you spot the handprints?
As a bonus, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and ate in the teachers' lounge!!! After being barred for decades, I was finally allowed to enter that secret clubhouse of educators. It was all that I imagined and more--a smorgasbord of complimentary baked treats, chocolate, and ten different kinds of coffee. (Somebody later told me that the treats and coffee were a special gift for Teacher Appreciation Week, but I prefer to think that the teachers' lounge always has a party in full swing.)

All in all, a perfect school visit. Now carry on and enjoy your summer.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SUPERSTARS Book Launch Party!

Last month, I had my first-ever book launch party at a very special place, my childhood library--the Forest Park Branch Library in Springfield, Massachusetts. It's where I got my first library card, where I participated in summer book clubs, and where I discovered some of my all-time favorite books.

So when the amazing Springfield librarian Jean Canosa Albano invited me to visit as an author, I jumped at the chance. We decided to throw a book party for JOE AND SPARKY, SUPERSTARS! Even if the idea did make me a teensy bit nervous. (What if nobody came? What if kids came, but didn't have enough to do? What if too many people came and I didn't have enough cupcakes and the children formed an angry mob?)

But then I reminded myself that part of being an author is being eternally and unapologetically optimistic, and so I planned and prepared and harassed all of my family and friends on facebook and guess what? People came. We had lots of fun. And there were enough cupcakes for everyone.

Thanks to all who joined the party and thank you, Forest Park Branch Library!

Set up and ready. Will anyone show up? Will I sit here alone with 100 cupcakes looking like Minnie Pearl? Only time will tell.
Hooray, they're here!

Desperately trying to pay attention to someone as my son wildly boogies on down next to me. (Keep smiling, keep smiling.)

In case the lollipop and sunglasses did not tip you off, he's kind of a big deal.
Disappearing cupcakes.

A little pre-Hokey Pokey reading to the star-studded crowd. (Those may or may not be jazz hands.)

The heckling giraffe.

A cute baby.

Crafty kids making puppets.

These gentlemen take their puppet-making seriously.

Click here to read an article about the event.

Superstar Artists to the Rescue!

Fact: It is not easy to find a giraffe costume for a 230-pound, 6' 3" man.

I discovered this fact last month while searching for a giraffe costume for my husband. He ever so kindly volunteered to dress as Joe for the JOE AND SPARKY, SUPERSTARS! book launch party. But the only costume I could find was this little number. Sadly, we quickly realized that a 230-pound, 6' 3" man wearing yellow facepaint and an incomplete giraffe costume would terrify small children.

On to Plan B: a carnival cut-out. You know, one of these things:

I tried to get my crafty on and make one on my own. Several disastrous attempts and six Exact-o blades later, I was forced to create a Plan C. But time was running out! What to do???

Luckily, the Superstar Artists of Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida came to the rescue. (It helps to have friends in sunny places.) Just LOOK at what they did!
Our Superstar Artists carefully planning, measuring, and sketching.

Adding color to Joe & Sparky's Superflash 5000.

The finishing touches to Joe's fruit hat.

A few of the talented artists with their teacher, Susan Anderson.

Voila! The masterpiece is done. Ready to be rolled up and shipped from Florida to Rhode Island. (Then I'd have to rubber cement the art to cardboard and carefully cut out those cute heads. Yikes!)

(Rebecca, Joel, Domingo, Dylan, and Ali)

Party time! Click play to see the finished cut-out & funny friends at the JOE AND SPARKY, SUPERSTARS! book launch party:

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Giveaways for Superstar Teachers & Librarians!

Hey, Teachers, Librarians, and other Swell Children's Programmers . . . Joe and Sparky are giving you the Superstar treatment in honor of their book launch!

Educator & Librarian Giveaway!  Enter here before 6/15/11 for a chance to win one of Joe and Sparky's books.

Activity Kit!  Three madcap activities for public librarians, school librarians, educators, and other swell children's programmers. Download it for free here.

Thanks to the brilliant Kirsten Cappy at Curious City for creating all of the above!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It is here! It is here!

The return of the unlikely duo that Kirkus describes as "part Bert and Ernie and part Thelma and Louise!"
The second Joe and Sparky early reader, JOE AND SPARKY, SUPERSTARS!, is out today!

Here's an excerpt from the first review--a star from Kirkus!

★ "This little treasure is one that will get passed around. Like the Hokey Pokey, that's what it is all about." —Kirkus, starred review

Order a copy from your independent bookstore: Shop Indie Bookstores