Curled up with a good kid's book: Desmond review

Thanks for the lovely review of Disappearing Desmond!

"By applying a little baby powder to his fur, Desmond the cat can blend in with the statues at the museum. When he wears clothes to match the color of a chalkboard or tree, Desmond can be inconspicuous in the classroom and on the school grounds. Masks and props have kept Desmond invisible for a very long time.

Desmond’s days of hiding are over, though, when Gloria the rabbit moves into town. Not only can she see him - she talks to him. As their friendship grows, so does Desmond’s self-confidence. He starts wearing brightly colored clothes, plays the part of a cactus on stage and interacts with others while at the park or in school.

Alter’s acrylic illustrations add humor to this sensitive story about shyness. Desmond is hidden in funny ways throughout most of the book, with only patches of gray fur peeking out. A double-page spread ends the book with a smile by revealing how Desmond’s transformation influences 'almost everyone.'

Anna Alter studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. She is the author and illustrator of the picture books What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? and Abigail Spells. She lives in Massachusetts."

BooksForKidsBlog review

For the full review click here.

"With intriguing patterned backgrounds among which our hero and his shy cohorts find refuge, Alter's nicely illustrated Disappearing Desmond provides a bit of visual fun spotting the elusive Desmond and his bashful mates, while providing an easy-going bit of bibliotherapy for the group gifted with the undiscovered riches of the shy classmate. As School Library Journal remarks, 'a reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others.'"

Sweet things

Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day yesterday! We made a visit, at last, to the incredible Tartine Bakery down the street from where we're staying in San Francisco. I've been hearing about this place for some time, but every time we've tried to go there was a line down the block to get in. So yesterday we headed out early and thankfully made it through the door. It every bit deserves its reputation for having the best sweets in the city. We had chocolate croissants still warm from the oven, apple brioche bread pudding, and these delicious chocolate hazelnut tarts.

After arriving home I got some sweet news. Disappearing Desmond has been included in the Cooperative Children's Book Center's best-of-the-year list. Hurray! I am truly honored to have Desmond on the list. Grace is on there too with Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

The complete list will be here on March 5th. Congrats to everyone!

Lastly baby made some sweet progress this weekend. For the very first time she lifted her head up during "tummy time"! These days you have to give babies time on their belly, since its not considered safe to let them sleep that way, so they can learn to lift their head to prepare for crawling. Normally Wren cries the whole time, but this weekend she not only smiled through it but got some lift! I am a very proud mama.

Desmond in Booklist

This lovely review of Disappearing Desmond came out in the fall, I am late to post it for obvious reasons. Than you Booklist!

"Whether he is talcum-powdered white to look like a statue in an art museum or dressed in green while sitting in a tree, Desmond, a shy cat, likes to blend in with his environment, much like David Lucas’ Halibut Jackson (2004). Used to being ignored, Desmond is surprised when new student Gloria, a gregarious rabbit who enjoys speaking up and standing out, notices him wherever he tries to hide. After Gloria finds Desmond in the library and they read together all morning long, the classmates become inseparable playmates. Brandishing a new attire and self-confidence to boot, Desmond can’t remember why he ever wanted to disappear and spots another camouflaged friend. The final double-page spread includes numerous hidden students for readers to find. With a nod to her own Abigail Spells (2009), Alter’s pleasing acrylic illustrations feature more of her adorable animals and geometric and patterned backdrops. A reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others."

— Angela Leeper, Booklist, November 15th, 2010

Disappearing Desmond book giveaway

To celebrate the release of my new book, for the first two weeks of November I'll be running a Disappearing Desmond book giveaway! Ten winners will get their very own copy sent to their doorstep.

All you have to do is find Desmond as he appears on various children's book blogs around the web and click on him before the contest disappears. From November 1st through November 14th he will appear on the following sites among others (I'll post a complete list next week):

The Blue Rose Girls
Wild Rose Reader
Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
Brimful Curiosities
Katie's Literature Lounge
LadyD Books
From Libby

(And of course here on Painting Bunnies)

Winners will be chosen at random on Nov. 15th and notified by email. Enter as many times as you like!

Desmond in The Wichita Eagle

"Disappearing Desmond," written and illustrated by Anna Alter (Knopf, ages 5-8, $17.99), is a charming look at shyness in children.

Desmond likes to disappear. Whether on the playground, in the classroom, or at the beach, he has always found a way to blend in as if he wasn't even around. Then Gloria joins his class. She loves to be noticed, and starts to notice Desmond, too. At first he is surprised, but discovers he likes being recognized.

Alter's story is warm and reassuring. Her characters don't judge each other, but find gentle ways to help each other grow. Young readers will love searching for the shy Desmond in the brightly colored acrylic illustrations and may notice other reluctant students as well.

Wallflowers and starlets alike will adore "Disappearing Desmond."

Other reviews here.

A lovely review of Disappearing Desmond by Toni Buzzeo

"In a delightfully simple story about a quirky young boy who would really rather not be noticed, author-illustrator Anna Alter offers a reassuring look at shyness and the encouragement that friendship can provide. Desmond, like all of the members of his family, is a genius at disappearing into the landscape or background of his surroundings. However, when a new extraordinarily outgoing classmate, Gloria, arrives, she not only spots Desmond in all of his disguises but invites him to join her in all manner of activities, causing Desmond to lose much of his shyness. This warm, reassuring story is the perfect book to use with groups of children as they coalesce at the beginning of a school year or a library storytime. To add to the fun, there is a lively activity guide to accompany the book with activities for both the classroom and the public library (and easily adaptable to a bookstore setting)."

~ Toni Buzzeo, MA, MLIS

Thanks Toni!

Disappearing Desmond Activity Kit

I am very excited to announce that Desmond now has his very own activity kit! Thanks to a lot of hard work by the very talented Kirsten Cappy at Curious City Doings, you can now download a fabulous group of activities to celebrate friendship and the fun of disguises that make you disappear.

There are cut-out disguises like these:

And activities for the classroom, library and art room to help Disappearing Desmonds everywhere gain confidence and all kinds of kids explore the concepts of disguise and camouflage.

Download the kit for free here!

Another lovely Desmond review

"Desmond the cat blends in with his surroundings. In fact, his entire family fades into the background in their portrait. Everything changes when Gloria, a rabbit, arrives at school. Not only does she take every possible chance to get noticed herself, but she also notices Desmond no matter where he hides. To his surprise, he likes interacting with others. He even coaxes someone else from his hiding place to join the playground fun. Young viewers will enjoy spotting Desmond in his ingenious costumes and identifying others trying to stay out of sight in the schoolyard. Alter’s animal characters will be familiar to those who know her previous books, including Abigail Spells (Knopf, 2009), featured in a library poster. This low-key story of how friendship can support and encourage others will be a welcome addition for most libraries."

-School Library Journal

Desmond is out today, hurray!

As I mentioned last week I've been busy putting together materials for my new book, out today! Lots of fun things are in the works, I'll keep you posted as I put materials on my web site and plan events this fall to get the word out about the book.

If you'll be in the San Francisco area, I'll be signing books at Kepler's in Menlo Park on October 3rd. More on that soon!

Did I mention I'm temporarily moving to San Francisco for 9 months? So that is happening too. In one week. This is what my studio presently looks like:

Also, I am seven months pregnant. This is what I presently look like:

Its been a busy summer to say the least. Looking forward to an eventful fall!

One week to Desmond!

Next week Disappearing Desmond will be on book shelves at last! I've spent the past few weeks madly making materials that teachers can use in their classroom in the new school year as I think its the perfect back to school book.

Curious City marketing has been helping me to put together a classroom/library activity kit that I'm really excited about. Desmond is a shy cat, who goes to great lengths to blend into the background so he won't be noticed. For example:

Which, of course, is not always very effective...

We've all seen kids like that in the classroom, right? The book is perfect for helping those wallflowers gain confidence and make friends. The kit will have "get to know you" activities that can be used to in conjunction with the book, and will be available for download from my web site very soon.

We are also working on a Disappearing Desmond Master of Disguise sheet that kids can use to disguise themselves just like Desmond. Here was my first draft:

After consulting with Curious City they suggested it be black and white so that teachers and librarians could easily xerox it. Also, the leaf border kept me from fitting as much on there as I wanted to, so this is version number two:

I'm still tweaking the cutouts and testing everything out...

Do you recognize me?