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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

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