Tag Archive for Jean Craighead George

Stay Home, Please. Don’t Celebrate Children’s Book Day at “Sunnyside” in Tarrytown, NY, 9/25

Just stay home. Please.

Find something else to do.

Each year I do this event, which features more than 60 amazing children’s book authors and illustrators, and it’s always such a disappointment. For starters, check out some of the people who’ll be there, and you’ll understand why I’m so bummed:

Tony Abbott, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Nick Bruel, Bryan Collier, Katie Davis, Bruce Degen, Jean Craighead George, Charise Mericle Harper, Susan Jeffers, Peter Lerangis, Gail Carson Levine, Carolyn MacCullough, Rafe Martin, Wendy Mass, Matthew McElligott, Helen Perelman, Wendell Minor, Gloria Pinkney, Lizzy Rockwell, Todd Strasser, Mark Teague, Jean Van Leeuwen, Eric Velasquez, Sarah Weeks, Ed Young, and more.

Why so down-in-the-dumps you ask? Because I never get to talk to any of them. I never get a chance to meet the new (to me!) people, like Will Moses (Mary and Her Little Lamb), Lena Roy (Edges), Daniel Kirk (Library Mouse), Peter Brown (You Will Be My Friend!) . . .

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. . . and Jerry Davis (Little Chicken’s Big Day). Who are these people? Might they become my new best pals? Um, not likely! Because they are sitting at tables forty feet away, surrounded by happy children, shopping grandparents, and strong-armed educators, hauling bags of books like Sherpa guides.

Best I can do is throw rocks at ’em.

And, oh, hey, look over there, it’s Jean Craighead George. She’s only a freakin’ legend. I can’t throw rocks at Jean Craighead George. She’ll throw them back — and her arm is a bazooka.

Oh,  wait.  Here’s old friends like Mark Teague and Helen Perelman and Peter Lerangis. Can I talk to any of them? Can we hang out? Maybe shoot the breeze? Commiserate?

Nooooooo. I’m too busy signing books, meeting young readers, gabbing with families, prostrating myself before the cheerful & smiling hordes.

Writing is a solitary business, folks. And it’s frustrating for me to sit there at gorgeous Sunnyside . . .

. . . just feet away from my peerless peers, and never have a free minute to chat with them.

So my dream is for just one year, nobody comes. No book sales, no signings, no musicians, no storytellers, no-bah-dee. Just us authors, finally (finally!) enjoying a few moments when we can hang out and complain about the crappy jobs our publishers do with publicity and marketing. It’s how we bond. We bitch and moan about Kindles.

So this coming Sunday, clean the garage, watch football, wax the car. But if you insist on coming . . . click here for full details.

As always, blue skies are personally guaranteed. It never rains on my parade.

Celebrate Children’s Book Day @ Washington Irving’s “Sunnyside” in Tarrytown, NY: 9/19

You should know that children’s book impresarios Susan Brandes and Beth Vetare-Civitello have put together another spectacular lineup of authors and illustrators for this year’s (13th annual?) Children’s Book Festival.

With more than 50 authors/illustrators on hand, the list is too excruciatingly long to include everyone. So I’ll only name my favorites:

JAMES PRELLER!

Well, it looks like we’ve run out of time. Sunnyside is a gorgeous location, with historic buildings nestled in beside the mighty Hudson . . .

What’s that? Hold on. I just got a text . . .

Tony Abbott: WTF??!!

Anyway, as I was saying . . .

Eric Velasquez: Punk!

Charise Mericle Harper: When I see you there, I will throw a CUPCAKE in your face!

Jean Craighead George: Die, die, die!

Rebecca Stead: How would you like to have a Newbery Medal shoved up your . . .

Whoa, whoa, people, CALM DOWN! Obviously, some of these “artists” — and I’m using the term loosely — have ego issues. Touchy, touchy. Seriously, I don’t even know these people. And I don’t want to know them! But, okay, here’s a few other names before I get into any more trouble (but believe me, I’m pretty confident I can handle Jean Craighead George in a tussle, if it’s a fair fight and she doesn’t carry a crude knife fashioned out of tree bark and a plastic spork; and as far as Ms. Stead’s “offer,” that may be as close as I’ll ever get):

Nora Raleigh Baskin * Judy Blundell * Katie Davis * Jules Feiffer * Susan Jeffers * Peter Lerangis * Gail Carson Levine * Wendy Mass * Wendell Minor * Jerry Pinkney * Peter Sis * Hudson Talbott * Ed Young * James Howe * Michael Rex * Nick Bruel * Bruce Degan * Diane Goode * and many, many more, including JAMES FREAKING PRELLER!

I’m also glad to see that my friend, Matthew McElligott, will be attending this year. His new book, Even Monsters Need Haircuts, looks pretty great.

Maybe I’ll offer him a ride . . . if he pays for gas.

And tolls.

Show time: 12:00 – 4:30.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. I’ll do something that these other children’s authors and illustrators are afraid to do. That’s right: I am personally guaranteeing a beautiful day. Blue skies, warm sun, good times. Trust me on this, people.  It’s my personal promise to you.

This year, I mean it.

So come on out and bring lots of money bring the kids!

Click here for full details, directions, etc.


Come to Children’s Book Day @ Washington Irving’s “Sunnyside” in Tarrytown, NY: 9/27

When I was a kid, I used to watch professional wrestling on television. This was before it went big time, before Hulk Hogan and the massive popularity of the WWF and big events on pay-per-view cable. I watched during the era of Bruno Sammartino, Gorilla Monsoon, Killer Kowalski, The Sheik, Ivan Koloff, Pedro Morales, Haystacks Calhoun, and other charismatic brawlers of yesteryear.

One of the events that I found mind-blowing — and happily recreated with friends on rowdy afternoons — was called a “battle royal.” While rules varied from match to match, essentially they would shoehorn about twenty wrestlers into a ring and the last man standing was declared the winner. They eliminated a wrestler either by pin or by hurling him over the ropes and out of the ring.

Like thus:

Good times, good times.

And that’s exactly what you’re likely to see at the 12th Annual Children’s Book Day at Sunnyside, in Tarrytown, New York, a veritable battle royal of sixty children’s book authors and illustrators. There will be petty jealousy, eye pokes, mule kicks, and plenty of blood (that’s right, I’m looking at you, Jean Craighead George).

This year the tag team of Susan Brandes and Beth Vetare-Civitello has put together a spectacular day-long festival for young readers, families, and friends. It’s a happy event in a beautiful location, and I encourage you to make the trip — meet authors and illustrators, get books signed, spend too much money, listen to music, watch performances, stroll the historic grounds . . .

. . . or simply fulfill your blood lust.

Come see Tony Abbott’s superkick . . . Katie Davis’s flying lariat takedown . . . Ed Young’s sleeper hold . . . Wendy Mass and her devastating forearm shiver . . . or the classic “El Kabong” as executed by Mark Teague.

Here’s some more illustrious names you’ll find in the ring: Pam Allyn, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Judy Blundell, Nick Bruel, Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Bruce Degen, Jules Feiffer, Dan Greenburg, James Howe, Susan Jeffers, Peter Lerangis,  Gail Carson Levine, Rafe Martin, Jean Marzollo, Barbara McClintock, Lloyd Moss, Bernard Most, Jerry Pinkney, Marisabina Russo, Peter Sis, Rebecca Stead, Todd Strasser, Eric Velasquez — and many more. Holy wow.

I’ll be there, too.

The date is Sunday, September 27th, from 11:00 – 5:00. For directions, click here.

Writers on Writing: Five More Quick Quotes

I still have that list of quotes that I found at the bottom of my t-shirt drawer a couple of weeks back. Here’s five more, perhaps more artfully strung together:

“Often with writing, you begin by writing too much. And out of it suddenly emerges one line that’s exactly right. That one line reveals the essence of the story. It’s a strange process that’s almost impossible to describe. I find that I might write pages of description — I love to write description — and then rereading it I see how I could set the mood in three sentences rather than three pages. So I do a great deal of cutting back.”Charlotte Zolotow.

“I have written a book in as short as an evening and as long as five years.” — Joanne Ryder.

I find that there are a lot of sentences I have in my early drafts that I really don’t need.” — Jean Craighead George.

“My first version states the basic story. I will then try speaking it, hearing it. Then I’ll go on to a second version, a third, a fourth. At each stage, I will test it with my voice. Then I’ll go back to the writing. Finally, the story reaches the point where I can say to it, ‘You are alive.'” — Ashley Bryan.

I was on the train one day, coming into work from suburban New York. I heard, ‘Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?’ So I wrote it down. Having no tablet with me, I wrote it on the newspaper. Then I wrote, ‘I see a red bird looking at me.’ Then I wrote down yellow duck, blue horse, green frog, purple cat, white dog, etc. Within fifteen minutes, the story was complete.” — Bill Martin Jr.

Illustration by Eric Carle (but you knew that).