Saturday, August 20, 2016

Happy Birthday, Arthur Yorinks - August 21

Happy Birthday, Arthur Yorinks - August 21

Ideas are coming! Ideas are coming! Some of my ideas come out of nowhere and land in my head. Sometimes I am skeptical and have to ask myself, How could I ever let that idea into one of my blog posts?

This week, we read Company's Coming by Arthur Yorinks. In this story, tiny spacemen come out of nowhere and land in Moe's backyard. Moe is skeptical, and yells at his wife Shirley, "How could you let them into our house!"

Shirley reassures Moe by saying, "Stay calm. Be polite. Maybe we can make friends with them."

This week I was skeptical, like Moe. Not of tiny spacemen, but of my idea for our author birthday celebration activity. I thought, Making meatballs? To celebrate Arthur Yorinks's birthday? There has to be a better idea than that. Instead of being like Skeptical Moe I decided to be like Let's-Just-See-What-Happens Shirley and thought, I should stay calm. Be polite. Maybe I can make meatballs with them.

My kids ended up having a real blast with this activity. I think this whole experience could really help me in the future. Maybe I should have a new mantra, More Shirley. Less Moe. More Shirley. Less Moe. Yeah, I kinda like that.

Arthur Yorinks is the author of over 35 books including It Happened in Pinsk illustrated by Richard Egielski, Tomatoes from Mars illustrated by Mort Drucker, and The Miami Giant illustrated by Maurice Sendak. As a child, Arthur wanted to be like the adults in his life. He wanted to play the piano like his aunt and uncle and started at the young age of six. He wanted to be a reader like his father and enjoyed reading his father's collection of 19th century literature. (NY Times, 1994). As teenager, Arthur wanted to be short-story writer and after a trip to local book store he had a better understanding of the stories he wanted to tell. Arthur described the experience, "I walked into a book store and I found a section that said Children's and thought, What does that mean? And low and behold, that was first time I saw a book by Maurice, Bill Steig, or anyone. The idea of marrying words and pictures was fascinating to me." (Just One More Book).

Later, at the age of sixteen, Arthur read an article about Maurice Sendak in the New York Times and was convinced that if he met Sendak he would help him with his short story writing. So, he went to Sendak's house unannounced. Maurice told him he would prefer to talk on the phone and asked that he give him a call sometime. There were many phone calls and meetings between Maurice Sendak and young Yorinks and a friendship formed. (Side By Side). Sendak saw promise in this young teenager and said, "Some of these [short stories] might be interesting texts for picture books." But, Arthur admitted that at the time he "didn't quite get it." (Just One More Book).

Years later, Maurice Sendak taught an illustration course and one of his students was Richard Egielski. Sendak mentioned to Arthur that he thought Egielski would be the perfect illustrator for his stories. By chance, one day in an elevator, the two met and decided to collaborate. (Talking with Artists). They were a perfect match, like Sendak predicted, and together Yorinks and Egielski published their first book, Sid and Sol in 1977. The team went on to publish ten books together including the 1987 Caldecott Award Winner, Hey, Al.

In addition to writing books, Arthur Yorinks has written and directed theater productions including many plays at the The Kennedy Center. ( Biography). In the 1990s, he and Maurice Sendak collaborated on The Night Kitchen Theater, which produced family-friendly dramatic radio programs for satellite radio audiences. Now, Arthur is once again producing audio theater with his latest venture, Airwayv, which was launched in June 2016.

The inspiration for our author birthday celebration activity for Arthur Yorinks was Company's Coming and Company's Going, both illustrated by David Small. These two picture books are about Moe and Shirley and their encounter with tiny spacemen that land in their backyard. Moe is skeptical of the little guys, but Shirley welcomes them into their home. The spacemen turn out to be harmless, friendly, and kind. (They buy Shirley a really nice gift.) Shirley wins them over with her spaghetti and meatballs and the spacemen ask her to cater their sister's wedding on their home planet of Nextoo. Of course, Shirley accepts, but Moe questions, "What if they don't like humans?" Shirley wasn't worried.
Moe and Shirley meet the spacemen.
My oldest kiddos dressed up as Moe and Shirley for this birthday celebration. (I never expected this! We hadn't even made the meatballs, yet! I was already pleased with how this author birthday celebration was going!)
I asked my son to make a flying saucer out of two red plastic bowls before I read the books to them. I used the flying saucer while I read the books.
After reading, I told them we were going to make meatballs just like Shirley. I found a recipe online. My youngest daughter helped mix together the beef and sausage.
Shirley said, "We have meatballs to make!" (I will never forget her enthusiasm!)
Here is an illustration from Company's Going that shows Shirley frantically making the meatballs for the wedding.
My children worked together to add all the ingredients.
They worked together to form all the meatballs. (I never expected this either. I thought they would think it was gross!)
I can't believe she did this. She usually can't even be in the kitchen when I am preparing meat for dinner.
"Shirley had made so many meatballs it seemed as if there was enough food to feed the whole planet." (from Company's Going).  We only made about 2 and 1/2 dozen. It was enough for dinner and leftovers!
I asked my boys to make 6 flying saucers, one for each member of our family. They used silver sharpie markers to draw the windows.
My daughter...(err...Shirley) prepared a sauce to cover the meatballs in the crock pot.
The spaceships were ready for dinner.
This is how our dining room table looked before I called everyone in to eat.
I think Shirley would be proud. I am glad I invited this idea into our home. 
1. Arthur Yorinks's website
2. Audio Interview - Just One More Book
3. Arthur Yorinks and Richard Eglieski - SIDE BY SIDE (Google Books)
4. Airwayv: new audio theater

Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy Birthday, Michael Buckley - August 16

Happy Birthday, Michael Buckley - August 16

My two boys would not be classified as daredevils. They wouldn't be classified as cowards either. I would probably describe them as cautious stuntmen. When they were younger they were eager to learn the monkey bars at the playground as long as I was within an arm's reach. This summer they wanted to ride the big water slides at the water park, but only after I went with them the first time. Now, they ride their bikes at top speed down the sidewalk in front of our house and will take both hands off their handlebars, but only for a millisecond. Courageous but careful. Daring but deliberate. Tough but tentative. I like them like this. I hope it continues into their teenage years!

This week, I planned a few activities for my little daredevils, (err...cautious stuntmen) to celebrate Michael Buckley's birthday. They didn't cringe or cower at the stunts I prepared. In fact, they performed them with amazing skill and ease. I hope you will read on. It will be quite a show!

Michael Buckley is the author many chapter books for middle grade readers and young adults including N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society series and the Undertow Trilogy. He was born in Akron, Ohio (not too far from our house!) and in school he was known as the "class clown". (Miss Literati). When Michael was in the fourth grade his school librarian encouraged him to read The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. He loved it and credits this book with helping him become an avid reader and a writer. (Mazza Museum Keynote). Also, in the fourth grade, he decided to share some of his writing with his teacher, who supposedly didn't like him too much, and she told him, "You are never going to be a writer. You can't spell." Michael heard the words not as crushing criticism, but as a challenge.

At the age of 16, he won a joke writing contest sponsored by Mad Magazine. His prize was to spend the day at the mall with Eddie Murphy, who thought Michael was pretty funny and encouraged him to sneak into comedy clubs to do stand-up. Michael took Murphy's advice, "I told everyone I was 18 and started doing stand-up." This experience taught Michael about the how to write a "set-up and punchline." (Mazza Museum Keynote). He told This is My Show, "Writing your own jokes can teach you a lot about the rhythm of language and speech. That's when I started to really see the power of words."

He graduated from Ohio University in 1996.  One of his professors, Mel Helitzer, encouraged Michael to get an internship and said, "You need to send a resume to David Letterman." Michael took Helitzer's advice and landed an internship with the David Letterman Show in the research department creating the interviews with the goal of making the guests "seem hilarious." Michael went on to develop and create TV shows for Discovery Channel (The Mole People), MTV (Beavis and Butthead, Celebrity Deathmatch), VH1, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network (Robotomy). Eventually, Michael "got burnt out" and needed a break.

During his break from creating TV shows, he had an idea for another TV show. He told his then girlfriend, Alison Fargis, all about it. Alison, who was working in the book industry, said, "That is not a TV show. It's a book." Michael didn't think he could write the book, but once again took the advice. To make a long story short, he wrote the book and it turned into the nine book series, The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives series. Later, he married Alison and she is now his agent.

Michael Buckley has written one picture book, Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show, illustrated by Dan Santat. In this book, Kel Gilligan performs amazing stunts like eating his broccoli, going on the big boy potty, and getting dressed all by himself. He does all of his stunts while wearing a red, white, and blue helmet, a cape, and white gloves. He is successful at all of his stunts, but his last stunt is the most daring one yet! He will go to bed without checking for monsters. Has Kel Gilligan lost his mind? Or will he amaze us once again?

Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show was the inspiration for our author birthday celebration for Michael Buckley. It inspired two craft ideas and some crazy fun in our driveway. For the first craft, I noticed a photograph of Kel Gilligan wearing an "I {heart} Danger" t-shirt on the second last page of the book. I thought this shirt would be perfect for my cautious stuntmen.

Kel Gilligan loves danger. Do my boys? Well, kinda...
I bought two blue t-shirts and cardboard letters we would use as stamps.
We covered the back of the letters with white screen printing ink and pressed them on the t-shirt. 
I found the cardboard letters on the clearance rack at a craft store. They were corrugated so they left lines after we stamped them.
My boys painted in the rest to make the letters solid.
I cut out a heart shape and stamped on red acrylic paint. We let the shirts dry for two days and then ironed them for about five minutes to set the ink.
We found a picture frame at a garage sale for 50 cents to recreate the illustration from the book.
Just like Kel Gilligan.
My youngest son is the "least cautious" of cautious stuntmen brothers.
Our second craft was to modify a white snowboarding helmet we had in our garage.
I taped off areas to make the stripes. They painted the middle stripe and let it dry over night.
The next day I taped off the areas for the red stripes.
After many coats of red paint, we let it dry over night too.
The next day we removed all the tape and it revealed this amazing helmet! I added a coat of clear acrylic spray to protect the paint too.
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It was time for our stunt show. 
My oldest son "laughed in the face of danger" as he rode his Razor Flash Rider 360 down the neighbor's driveway at top speed.
My youngest son "threw caution to the wind" and faced the hill himself.
Next up, was this guy! The craziest of them all!
He prepared for another run.
Off he goes!
I am lucky I didn't get hurt.
He was so happy.
His smile says it all.

Michael, thank you for sharing your birthday with us and thank you for signing my huge stack of books at Mazza. We hope you have a great birthday!

1. Michael Buckley's Blog
2. Michael Buckley Fan Page - Facebook
3. Follow Michael Buckley - Instagram, Twitter
4. Interviews - Yogi Times (2013), Miss Literati, Nerdy with Children, Author Turf (2014), Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf (2015), State Impact (2013)
5. Video Interview - TeacherTube, National Book Festival 2015
6. National Book Festival Presentation 2015 - Library of Congress on YouTube
7. National Book Festival Presentation 2011- Library of Congress on YouTube
8. National Book Festival Presentation 2010 - Library of Congress on YouTube

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Happy Birthday, LeUyen Pham - August 10

Happy Birthday, LeUyen Pham - August 10

Klopp. Klopp. Klopp. Klopp.
"Dad, can I wear these shoes to the store?"
"No, but you can keep your princess dress on."
Klopp. Klopp....No. Noooo.
"No princess shoes on the steps!"
"I won't fall, Dad."
Klopp. Klopp. Klopp......
"Hey! Da-a-a-a-a-d! He took my shoes."
"Dude. For real? Give your sister back her shoes."
Klopp. Klopp. Klopp. Klopp.
"Why are there shoes in your bed?"
"I wanted to sleep with them."
Klopp. Klopp. Klopp. Klopp.

I don't think there is anything more adorable than my four-year-old daughter carefully walking around in high heel shoes. She loves all her fancy shoes. I've lost count of how many pairs she owns. But, every girl needs another pair. Right? This week, our birthday celebration activity for LeUyen Pham had my daughter (...and son) smiling, feeling proud, and saying "Shoe-la-la" after adding a new pair of shoes to their collections.

LeUyen Pham (pronounced Le Win) is the illustrator of over 80 books for children including Bedtime for Mommy written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Piggies in a Polka written by Kathi Appelt, and Grace for President written by Kelly DiPucchio.

At the age of two, LeUyen and her family left Vietnam near the end of the War and found a home in California. As a child, she was a voracious reader and spent her Saturdays at the library lost in books like Where's Wallace? by Hilary Knight and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. (Mazza Museum Keynote).  As much as she loved reading she loved drawing even more. She sold doodles of Star Wars, Garfield, and Calvin and Hobbes to her classmates for a quarter and is thankful her teachers fostered her artist talent, "There wasn't a single year in my school age when I didn't have at least one teacher encouraging me to draw and cultivate my art. Which was important, because my family didn't really give much value to art. I always loved that my teachers gave me sort of a safe haven to dream and to pursue what I loved so much, even at a super young age." (EW).

Later, LeUyen attended UCLA to study Political Science.  However, a professor noticed her artistic talent and referred her to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena where she received a scholarship. While at art school she earned an internship with SGI, the animation company behind the first Jurassic Park movie. (The Noe Valley Voice). After she graduated she worked for DreamWorks Animation in the layout department for the movies The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado. She learned a lot at DreamWorks, especially how to draw quickly, but the animation industry was changing and LeUyen wanted to work as a freelance illustrator. (Patricia Newman). While still at DreamWorks, she landed her first book deal to illustrate the chapter book The Sugarcane House: And Other Stories About Mr. Fat written by Adrienne Bond (1997). That book led to Can You Do This, Old Badger? written by Eve Bunting, her first picture book, and a few more contracts. LeUyen was able leave DreamWorks to work as an illustrator.

LeUyen has been described as the "girl with many styles." (Webesteem art and design,). Her illustration work can be found in the chapter book series Alvin Ho written by Lenore Look and Princess in Black written by Shannon Hale, graphic novels (Real Friends coming May 2017), board books, and picture books. She also has written many of her own picture books too. Her first was Big Sister, Little Sister in 2005. (Click here view more of her art.)

LeUyen is prolific illustrator. She produces three or more books each year and takes great care to "present as many multicultural races as possible" with the goal of "where any child can look at an image and not necessarily identify it as a particular race, but to identify themselves in it."  (Scholastic). She told the audience at the Mazza Museum, "When I draw anything. It is a little piece of me." Her latest picture book is Freckleface Strawberry and the Really Big Voice written by Julianne Moore.

Wow! An amazing artist and a champion for diverse books.
Shoe-la-la!, written by Karen Beaumont, inspired our birthday celebration activity for LeUyen Pham. In this book, four girls, Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn, and Claire head to the shoe store to find the perfect pair. The girls try on a variety of shoes, much to the frustration and exhaustion of the store clerk, but they can't find a single pair to buy. Back at home, disappointed, one of the girls has an idea. With paint, pom-poms, gems, beads and bows the girls transform their plain shoes into something glamorous! Our family couldn't resist this crafty idea! We had to try!

We found a few pairs of high heel shoes at the thrift store.
I knew my youngest son would love this activity, so I bought an inexpensive pair of canvas shoes at Wal-Mart.
My daughter was so excited to see the drawing from LeUyen in our copy of Shoe-la-la!.
At the Mazza Museum, LeUyen did portrait drawings for anyone who wanted one in their book. All she needed was a photo, so I showed her one of my daughter on my phone. How cool is that!
We gathered goodies from our craft bins to decorate the shoes.
I found a video sharing how to add glitter to a pair of canvas shoes. I showed it to my son and he was beyond excited to try it. We started by taping off the white bottoms of his shoes so they wouldn't get covered with glitter.
My daughter made a plan with Mom.
My son wanted to add gems and other things to the tops of his shoes. We taped over the front part of the shoes to prevent glitter from getting there too.
My daughter added beads and fancy ribbon to the straps. We used E-6000 adhesive as the bonding agent.
While my daughter worked with her mom, I helped my son prepare his glitter mixture. He poured a generous amount of fine gold glitter into a bowl.
Then, mixed in Mod Podge with a craft stick.
He painted the mixture onto the shoe.
She was still working hard.
Thankfully, mom was still on summer break and was able to help with this craft.
She loved her first pair.
My son allowed the first coat of glitter to dry and then he added another coat. At this point, he had two colors of glitter going at the same time.
My daughter saw how much fun her brother was having and she decided to add gold glitter to the heels of another pair of shoes.
Then, she found more gems and added those to the first pair.
This is a photo of the E-6000 clear adhesive. We found it at Michael's craft store.
Our kitchen was busy!
We let the shoes dry overnight. Then, we removed the tape.
They looked pretty good. Notice that he used two different types of glitter. The gold glitter was finer and tuned out smoother. The black/blue glitter was traditional glitter and it had a more bumpy finish.
He planned the location for a few colored stars.
I helped with the adhesive.
How glamorous!
He said, "I am going to wear these shoes on the first day of school. And I can where them to art class, because they are piece of art."
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LeUyen, thank you for sharing your birthday with us! We hope you have a glamorous birthday!

LeUyen Pham has many new books on the way; THE BEAR THAT WASN'T THERE (picture book) and ISABELLA FOR REAL by Margie Palatini (chapter book). Both will be available October 2016!:

1. LeUyen Pham's Website
2. Follow LeUyen Pham - Facebook,
3. Biography - Webesteem art and design, We Need Diverse Books, Patricia Newman
4. SHOE-LA-LA Trailer - Scholastic on YouTube
5. Video Interview - Scholastic on YouTube
6. Interviews - The Children's Book Review, Seven Impossible Things, Pamela Goodman, Finding Wonderland, KinderLit, EW
7. FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY the Musical - website
8. Audio Interview - Stories Unbound, Storybook Spotlight
9. LeUyen Pham: My Kids See Themselves in Every Book They Read - BookPeople
10. Drawing with the Stars: Illustrator LeUyen Pham - The Noe Valley Voice

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