Tuesday, April 19, 2011

After School Specials! Three Kids Events at 4 PM--Blue Balliett, Mo Willems, and Mark Kurlansky

We love getting kids authors.  Our school events have been very successful, and it has been great to work with various school districts.  We have Gail Carson Levine doing two schools for her new book A Tale of Two Castles.  Sorry, that one is not open to the public.  However, if your school is interested in being in our event rotation (there are requirements involved, including how you promote the event and how you sell the books, and we have audience size and sales expectations to fulfill from the publishers), contact Pam.

That said, sometimes we get to bundle the school events with a public event, and sometimes someone else will do the school events and we'll be asked to host a public event.  The thing is, these kids events can be tricky. 

7 pm can be too late.
2 pm on a weekend can be prime activity time, or for young kids, it might be naptime.

So we're experimenting with 4 pm, sort of a series of after school specials.  We know that many parents work, but somebody is picking up the kids from school, so hoping this will be a great group activity.  Here is our upcoming schedule.  Note that each event is at a different location.

April 27, 4 pm
Blue Balliett, author of The Danger Box
Appearing at the Shorewood Public Library
3920 North Murray Avenue

Balliett's novels (Chasing Vermeer, The Calder Game, The Wright 3) are mysteries inspired by historical events, and The Danger Box is no different.  A young boy, Zoomy by name, is given a notebook that may or may not be Charles Darwin's, and it may or may not have been stolen.  The story is inspired by Darwin's actual lost notebook (though the book being Darwin's is only hinted at).  Balliett's other books have been inspired by artists and architects, which is Balliett's area of academic expertise.  What made her detour to a scientist?  Fortunately someone else asked.  I reprint here...

Q: You’re widely known for writing books about famous artists and visionaries – Johannes Vermeer in Chasing Vermeer, Frank Lloyd Wright in The Wright 3, Alexander Calder in The Calder Game, what made you decide to write a new mystery focusing on a world-renowned scientist?

Balliett: Science is filled with as much controversy and as many questions as art—especially the scientific ideas of this particular thinker. But the ideas that made this man’s name a household word also hid who he was as a person. My hope in writing this book was to give kids more access to this inspiring, humble and often-misunderstood guy.

I'm sure you've got lots more questions to ask.  See you at the library. And more science later. But first...

May 5, 4 pm
Mo Willems at Boswell,

The author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny, Cat the Cat, and many, many other books*, is coming to Boswell.  I'd been writing all sorts of proposals since we opened the store.  At one point, I was going to form a rock band to sing songs like:

Let's say hi to friends who fly,
Let's say hi to friends who fly,
Let's say hi to friends who fly,
Let's say hi to friends who fly.

Can you fly, Bee the Bee?
Can you, fly, Bee the Bee?
Watch Me, Watch me
Go Bee the Bee!

I've got the melody all worked out in my head. It does sound similar to a Ramones tune with ramming guitars over the chorus and very loud drumming over the verse ending with some solo that recalls the animal in question, and then into the chorus again.  As you may know, both the seminal punk band and I share the same New York borough of origin.  I'm still trying to decide what a rhino sounds like.

But I digress.  It turns out we are hosting the great and powerful Mr. Willems and it's a free event at Boswell, no less.  There are some rules, which I will spell out in a later post.  But first, a little more about Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator.  It turns out that having a stuffed alligator for a best friend can be very exciting and Willems tells us about their wonderful lives in six-and-a-half stories.  The book goes on sale April 26--how exciting.  I can hardly wait to start singing along.

Oh, did I mention that Mo Willems is also one of my favorite children's book illustrators ever? I'm sure you're shocked.

And finally...
Tuesday, May 10, 4 pm
Mark Kurlansky at the Urban Ecology Center
1500 E. Park Place

It's a riveting new book from the author of Cod and Salt.  Kurlansky explains what's happening to fish, the oceans, and our environment, and what kids can do about it. The book includes a full-color graphic novel.

We're coordinating the event as part of the UEC's young scientist program.  This is a great opportunity for your own young scientist (your own little Darwin, perhaps?)  Registration is requested for this event.  Please call the UEC at (414) 964-8505.

This is a free event, though donations to the wonderful Urban Ecology Center are welcomed.

So how cool is that?  Three really great kids authors, all wonderful and all free, and all at 4 pm.   But don't forget, no Gail Carson Levine this go around, unless you are a lucky Shorewood student.  But you can still order a signed copy of A Tale of Two Castles from us.

*Stacie reminded me of another Mo Willems favorite, City Dog, Country Frog. What a great book.  Willems wrote this one, but Jon Muth illustrated it.

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