TOUCH BLUE and lobstering at Flying Pig Books

My daughter and I took an after-school ferry ride this afternoon to attend Cynthia Lord’s TOUCH BLUE event at Flying Pig Books. We both read and loved TOUCH BLUE so hearing Cindy speak about it was a real treat. We got to see old photos of the real Maine schoolhouse that inspired the story of TOUCH BLUE, in which families take in foster children to try and save their island school.

And Cindy had great props!  She brought her marked-up manuscript with line edits, some rubber duckies from RULES, sea glass, which plays a role in the book, and lobster banding things (Banders, perhaps? Is that what they’re called? Clearly I was not paying close enough attention…)

Flying Pig co-owner Elizabeth Bluemle took the lobstering practice a step further and started banding guests at the book event, including my daughter and author Linda Urban ( ).

I do not think poor Linda enjoyed being banded… (though she was laughing a second after I took this photo)

Yes, we had entirely too much fun.  And I have a shiny, signed copy of TOUCH BLUE to add to my classroom library tomorrow!

Why I *Heart* Kids Heart Authors Day

What started with an idea Tweet from author Mitali Perkins turned into quite a party this morning, when authors and kids and parents gathered at independent bookstores all over the country.  I spent an amazing morning at Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont.

Flying Pig co-owner Elizabeth Bluemle had the kids laughing out loud as she shared her two picture books MY FATHER THE DOG and DOGS ON THE BED.

Tanya Lee Stone was there with her upcoming release ALMOST ASTRONAUTS. (I’ll be curled up with my copy in front of the fireplace shortly!)

I also met Ann Cardinal, a contributor to the anthology SISTER CHICAS, but Flying Pig was such a bustling place today that Ann had disappeared by the time I went to find her to snap her photo after the signing.    I did manage to catch Ray Montgomery and Shannon Gilligan, though.  That was a special treat, since I grew up on Ray’s CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series, which has just been released again. 

Meeting kids at an event like this is always a joy, but every once in a while, something happens to make the day extra special.  Today, that "something" was courtesy of my new friend Madison, a fifth grader who came by to meet me and show me HER first published work — a review of my Lake Champlain historical novel CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE that she wrote and had accepted for publication in the KidsVT family newspaper!

Madison and I made a deal….  I signed a copy of my other historical novel, SPITFIRE, for her, and she signed a copy of KidsVT for me!  She’s a talented young woman writes her own stories as well as book reviews, and I have no doubt she’ll have a book on these shelves some day, too.

Thanks to Elizabeth and Josie at Flying Pig, along with Mitali and Deborah Sloan for making this awesome event happen.  It was a great morning, absolutely full of book-magic.  I hope your Valentine’s Day was wonderful, too!

Three Cheers for Flying Pig Books!

BIG congratulations are in order for author/bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle and her partner Josie Leavitt this week.  The Flying Pig Bookstore has won the Lucille Micheels Pannell Award, honoring bookstores “that excel in inspiring the interest of young people in books and reading.” If you’ve ever set foot in Flying Pig, you know that describes Josie & Elizabeth’s store perfectly.  Yay!!!

And…if you’re still looking for another reason to visit, you should know that Flying Pig is hosting Tanya Lee Stone’s launch for Elizabeth Leads the Way this Saturday.  Here’s the official Flying Pig blurb…

Store Events – June 7, 11:00 a.m.

Time: Saturday, June 7, 2008 11:00 a.m.
Title of Event: Tanya Lee Stone, author of Elizabeth Leads the Way

Join the prolific Tanya Lee Stone as she reads from Elizabeth Leads the Way, her new picture book about pioneering feminist and suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

My daughter and I are really looking forward to this one!

Thank you, Flying Pig Books!

I am officially spoiled. 

Saturday’s presentation & signing at Flying Pig Books in Shelburne, Vermont was absolutely fantastic –  thanks to book-loving store owners Elizabeth & Josie and a whole loft full of enthusiastic kids, parents & grandparents.  Thanks to my husband and kids, too, who came along to help me carry props, set up extra chairs, and serve hardtack!

Flying Pig holds its author events in a big, beautiful room they call The Loft.  It’s a lovely, lovely place for book-talk, with a cathedral ceiling and tons of natural light. 

The kids liked hearing about the “experimental archaeology” parts of my research on 18th century life.  Early blog readers will remember the saga of the powder horns on my roof

I spotted a few familiar faces in the audience.

Author Tanya Lee Stone brought her kids and another kid she borrowed from a neighbor, I think. 

My daughter and I have already planned a return visit to the Flying Pig Loft for June 7th, when Tanya will be there to give a presentation on her new book Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote, which comes out later this month.  I’m impatient for this one!

I’m also looking forward to Tanya’s nonfiction workshop at the New England SCBWI Conference later this week.  She’s giving a two-part session with Charlesbridge editor Yolanda LeRoy.  Talk about a terrific team!

Here’s the downstairs-bookstore part of Flying Pig.  This store has a HUGE focus on kids’ books.  It took me almost an hour to drag E out of this section.

But here’s the very best thing about Flying Pig Books…

            Left to right:  Josie Leavitt, me, Elizabeth Bluemle

Owners Josie Leavitt and Elizabeth Bluemle love books & authors, and like so many folks who run indies, they know their stuff.  They pointed both of my kids to perfect books right away.  E went home with Clementine’s Letter, the new Clementine book from Sara Pennypacker and illustrator Marla Frazee and a signed copy of My Father the  Dog, an outlandishly funny picture book written by the Flying Pig’s own Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by Randy Cecil.  J picked up James Paterson’s new Maximum Ride book, The Final Warning.

Thanks, so much, Elizabeth, Josie, and Shelburne readers for a fantastic morning in the loft!

Blog Soup

Sometimes I try to make soup out of all the leftovers in the refrigerator.  Today’s post is blog soup — all the little notes I’ve been meaning to mention but haven’t had time. 

One of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Books in Shelburne, VT,  was nominated for the Lucille Micheels Pannell Award honoring bookstores that “excel at inspiring the interest of young people in books and reading.”  If you’ve ever been to see Josie & Elizabeth at Flying Pig, you know  their children’s section is fabulous, and they have a steady stream of guest authors (I’ll be there on April 5th!). The nomination is a well-earned honor!  (Congrats are also in order for winning stores, Books & Books of Coral Gables, FL and Wonderland Books of Rockford, IL. The descriptions of these stores make me want to visit them all.)
Laurie Halse Anderson (

) and her husband are training tirelessly for the Lake Placid Half Marathon.  They’re running with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training to raise money for cancer research.  Even if you only run when being chased, you can click here to contribute to their efforts.

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting…and this Thursday, the Cybils Award Winners will be announced.  I served as a panelist for MG fiction, and I can’t wait to see what one of our eight finalists the judges choose.

Kerry Madden (

) is having a cool school picture contest on her blog, and she’s giving away signed copies of Jessie’s Mountain.  Here’s your opportunity to profit from that 3rd grade school photo where your collar was tucked in and your hair looked like devil horns.

Speaking of contests, don’t forget that I’m giving away a signed ARC of Linda Sue Park’s Keeping Score.  Check out this post for the details. You have  until 6pm EST on Wednesday to enter.  The winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day.

And finally, have you checked out Nonfiction Mondays?  I love the idea of a blogging day devoted to nonfiction.  I missed today’s roundup, but I’ll be participating next Monday.  I hope you’ll stop by to check out my interview with Jim Murphy, award-winning author of fantastic non-fiction titles like The Great Fire, Blizzard,  An American Plague, and most recently, The Real Benedict Arnold.