Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Erica S. Perl - August 31

Happy Birthday Erica S. Perl - August 31

It is crazy hectic at our house right now! School has started for my wife and daughter.  I am home with my 2 boys -- collectively we are known as "The Dudes" -- packing up our house in preparation to move. Not to mention,  I have to prepare for my fantasy football draft! With everything going on I thought, No household could be any more wild than ours, as my daughter packs her own boxes, my 3-year-old son has chosen to wash the dishes and my youngest is unpacking the boxes that we left untaped.  However, we could have 93 animals and people living in our house!

Erica S. Perl, author of Ninety-Three in my Family (her second picture book), started taking writing more seriously after several years serving as a trial lawyer.   
She said, "When I had my own kids, I started shifting back to writing my own stuff and trying to bring that forward for myself." She succeeded with her first picture book Chicken Bedtime is Really Early, a story about how the animals on the farm go to bed at different times.  In addition to Chicken Bedtime and 93, she has published three other picture books including read aloud favorite Chicken Butt, my favorite book of the week Dotty (Click here to send a Dotty e-card to someone for the beginning of the school year), and Chicken Butt's Back.



Ninety-Three in My Family begins when a teacher asks a boy, "How many live with you?" and he responds "92" -- which includes 88 pets, his mom and dad, and two sisters named Darlene and Winifred.  The teacher is in disbelief but the boy describes in great detail the madness that unfolds with his family at meal time, while traveling in the car, and getting ready for bed. This story was born from the idea that Erica Perl "always wanted more pets as a kid".  She described this book as her "fantasy of what it would be like to have all of these animals." (Children's Book Radio).

We settled on my daughter's bed to read our books before bedtime.  My daughter noticed the title of the book I was going to read first.  She said, "I wonder how many are in our family." At this point I did not have a birthday celebration activity in mind.  However, after reading Ninety-Three in My Family I said, "I think we need to find out how many are in our family."  My son and daughter excitedly said, "Yeah!"
I envisioned making a family tree on large paper to help us figure out the number animals and people in our family. However, it was such a nice day we moved our activity out to the driveway.
We started by writing the names of all the young children in our family.
We also wrote down all pets that family members own. This was just like the boy in the book who had 88 pets -- including 27 owls and 1 pygmy hippo.
Our family tree was very complicated but it did help us get the visual we needed to count up everyone in the family.
The last page in the book has a tally page.  My daughter volunteered to tally the people and animals in our family while I called out the numbers. Here were the results:
Kids: 6
Adults: 45
Dogs: 18
Cows: 10
Rooster: 1
Chickens: 5
Cats: 40
Horse: 1
Goats: 2
Birds: 1
Goldfish: 9
(Note to all family members reading this post: Please do not be offended if we forgot one of your pets or exaggerated the number of cats in your house -- we just know there are a lot!)
We have 138 in our family! This was larger than my daughter's estimate of 89 and my son's estimate of 30. (If you are still reading -- another reason our house is so hectic is that we are expecting another baby (aka pygmy hippo) which is the reason we are moving! So make it 139!
My son said, "There are more animals than people in our family."
Check out the resources for this book on Erica S. Perl's website. There is a downloadable activity guide. Plus, Erica S. Perl said the text of this book came to her as a song which is 
available for free as a MP3. The song is performed by her friend, Vanessa Trien.
I emailed Erica S. Perl for her to share a few birthday thoughts. This was her response:

My family tradition (from when I was a kid...not sure how or why it started but we do this with my kids now as well) is that everyone comes to your room to wake you up with presents.  However, since no one actually wants to wake you up on your birthday, everyone waits until you are obviously awake and then you have to pretend to be asleep so they can tiptoe in and "wake" you up by singing and handing you presents in bed.  Your job is to pretend to be sleep and surprised by this, even though you are already awake and are not surprised because this happens every year.


My favorite birthday as a kid was when I turned 8.  We had just moved to Vermont that summer and we climbed (or perhaps drove up and then took a hike on) Mount Mansfield...and found snow at the top. Yup, snow on August 31st...hadn't seen that before and haven't since.


My favorite birthday as an adult was probably when I turned 30 and I celebrated with a beach bonfire with friends.  In fact, my recent birthdays have all been great because having August 31st means my birthday is sort of a last hurrah of summer.  As a kid I hated that I never got to celebrate at school or camp, but now I really appreciate it.


My husband sometimes claims that I try to stretch my birthday into a whole week of festivities and celebrations. However, he's wrong.


Erica -- Thank you so much for your willingness to share your birthday thoughts.  We hope you have a wonderful birthday.  It must be noted that your birthday was a "whole week of festivities" at our house!

Erica S. Perl, also has written the following highly acclaimed chapter books:



Links:
1. Erica Perl's Website
2. Follow Erica Perl on Facebook and Twitter
3. Chicken Butt Book Trailer - YouTube
4. Video Interview by First Book - YouTube
5. Video Interview by District Dish -  YouTube
6. Text Interviews - Mawbooks, The Hiding Spot
7. Audio Interview - Children's Book Radio
8. When Life Gives You O.J. Webpage  - includes many resources for the book
9. Guiding Older Readers with Erica Perl - MommyCast on YouTube
10. 93 in My Family Activity Guide - EricaPerl.com
11. 93 in My Family Song MP3 Download
12. Video Interview with Erica Pearl - Reading Rockets

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