More Apple Picking

September 27, 2013

This afternoon at Homestead Farm we picked twenty-six pounds of Fuji, Sun Crisp, Jonagold, Braeburn, Granny Smith apples.

This evening at our own little homestead my sister made the best apple pie we have ever eaten. 

Travels with Pacy: Washington, D.C.

September 25, 2013

Pocket Pacy and Grace Lin!

I had the very exciting opportunity to spend last Friday with Grace Lin! Yes, Grace Lin! She graciously did a special school visit for An Open Book  with a group of very appreciative students. I brought our Pocket Pacy along and towards the end of the visit pulled her out to take a group shot with Grace and the students. It was a fun little reunion. Grace noticed Pacy's faded features (that's what happens when you travel the world!), whipped out her fine tipped Sharpie, and gave Pacy a little make-over. You can see more pics here from her fabulous school visit and below are a couple of pics of the newly spruced up Pocket Pacy at the National Book Festival. A huge thank you to Grace and her family for making last Friday such a memorable day!

The National Book Festival

September 21, 2013

It was the perfect day for curling up with a good book. The kind of day that is rainy and grey and has you yearning for a cup of tea and a cozy homemade quilt.  But we ignored those urges, hopped on the metro, and immersed ourselves in a different kind of book experience: The National Book Festival. Soggy and surrounded by fellow book-loving strangers we eagerly plunked ourselves down in the children's tent and spent the afternoon listening to Matthew and Jennifer Hollman , Kevin Henkes, and William Wegman

Matthew and Jennifer Hollman made us all laugh with stories of their sibling escapades and funny drawings. Kevin Henkes made me tear up when a fifteen year old girl stood up to express her love and admiration for his work and he subsequently became flustered and touched by her declarations. We also loved the drawings and letters he shared from admiring young readers through the years. And Willam Wegman showed lots of amusing photos of his beloved and famous canines while also taking the time to answer every single question that was asked of him including some from very young audience members. It really was a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon. 

Sadly, we can't return tomorrow, but the weather is supposed to be better and there are a ton of good authors appearing tomorrow. And there are beautiful posters by Suzy Lee. And it is all free! So if you are in the D.C. area, head to the National Mall for this very special festival. Rain or shine, it really is worth the trip!

An Afternoon of Puppets

September 20, 2013

Cardstock, markers, tape, wooden spoons, straws, and two girls with very vivid imaginations.

The afternoon started with pulling out our puppet theater and our box of puppets...a variety of storebought/homemade fabric puppets that have been accumulated over the years, But the creative frenzy was initiated by the idea to make paper purses for the puppets and that quickly morphed into creating their own puppets. They spent all afternoon drawing, cutting, chatting, and customizing a whole cast of characters (a dog, a mouse, a monster), scenery (pizza restaurant), and props (pizza slices and ice cream cones).  Seriously, all afternoon, diligently working,planning the show, and rehearsing. Now our Friday night plans include a puppet show after dinner.

Hope your weekend has similar moments of spontaneous creativity. Happy Friday!

Graphic Happenings

September 18, 2013

 It's a very good time to be a graphic novel fan. Bethesda hosted the Small Press Expo (SPX) this past weekend with all sorts of big names. On Monday night, Politics and Prose hosted a great graphic novel panel discussion. And this week Gene Yang's Boxers and Saints was selected as a National Book Award Finalist (only the second time a graphic novel has received this honor and the other book was Yang's American Born Chinese). I had the chance to spend two days with him at two different Open Book events and in addition to being a brilliant author/illustrator, he is a super nice guy. 

I was also very lucky to spend last Friday with Matt Phelan, Dave Roman, and Raina Telgemeir. Their school visits were so much fun because they are passionate about their work and the kids view them as literary rock stars. Seriously, when word got around the school, kids flocked around them. It was great!  It is clear to me that the graphic novel is here to stay and for good reason. It hooks kids, even the most reluctant or hesitant readers; it can make history interesting and approachable; it's creative; it's full of action; and it forces you to use both sides of your brain. 

I have posted about our love of graphic novels before, but thought it would be good to add some of our recent favorites since the list continues to grow. 

For Adults/Young Adults: 

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
Little White Duck: A Childhood in China
Sailor Twain
Boxers and Saints
The Property 
American Born Chinese
Exit Wounds

For Kids:
The Nathan Hale series
To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel
Zita The Spacegirl
The Secret of the Stone Frog
Maya Makes a Mess
The Odyssey
The Big Wet Balloon
Astronaut Academy
Around the World
Saltwater Taffy
The Unsinkable Walter Bean
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Robot Dreams

Exploring: The C&O Canal

September 11, 2013

A few weekends ago we finally made it to the C & O canal. We started at the Great Falls National Park visitor center where we happily discovered their free loaner bike program...bikes and helmets for all ages for two hours. What a great discovery! The boys headed down the towpath, while Camille and I chose to walk it. On our walk we came across fourteen Plestiodon skinks (their tails are only blue when they are young), spiders spinning webs, beetles, fish in the canal, and way too many swallowtail butterflies to count. 

It was quite a pleasant little outing and we are already fantasizing about doing a serious C & O canal trip complete with a stay or two at the historic lock houses along the way.  We met a few folks who were doing that sort of trip. A family on bikes with a bike trailer filled with food, sleeping bags, clothes, etc. on their way back to D.C. after a weekend of biking and camping. And a group of women doing an annual stay at their favorite lock house. Doesn't that sound like fun?

How Addiction and Truancy Helped Me Get a Job

September 10, 2013

It's true. If I wasn't so hooked on books and if I hadn't let Noah skip school to attend a Nathan Hale author event at Politics and Prose, I would never have started up a conversation that eventually resulted in a dream job. Seriously, a dream job. 

I get paid to bring amazing children's authors into inner city DC schools AND each student gets an autographed copy of the book. It's the perfect melding of my social work background, my love of books, and my desire to see a world filled with kids and adults who love reading. And it is all made possible because of a fabulous children's literacy foundation known as An Open Book.

Our fall line up is an impressive list of favorites (Grace Lin, Matt Phelan, Linda Sue Park, Gene Yang, David Wiesner, Annie Barrows, Jonathan Stroud,Gennifer Choldenko) and some wonderful-new-to-me ones, too. This is our first full week of visits for this school year and it has me feeling both excited and a bit anxious to see it all come together, but mostly I just feel so darn lucky to be a part of this. 

A Sweet Start

September 9, 2013

 Gala and Jonagold apples fresh from Butlers Orchard.

This past weekend, we picked apples, worked our way through a huge pile of newspapers that had been accumulating by the front door, met up with new friends, met up with my sister (did I ever mention here that she recently moved to the area? it's been great to have her so close) ate Vietnamese, Chinese, and Lebanese (but not all at once!). It was the perfect way to celebrate the start of the Jewish new year. Shanah Tovah!

If you have good apple recipes, please share them! 

Solomon's Island, Maryland

September 2, 2013

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