Voting day

I hope you all stayed safe in the storm last week. We were very lucky out here in Western Massachusetts and had not much more than some heavy rain and wind. My heart goes out to our neighbors in New York and New Jersey who have suffered so much loss.

It is with a strong feeling of community and concern for our collective future that I headed out to the polls this morning. I've been as wrapped up in this election as anyone, even more so after the storm, which reminded me how important it is to have leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility. It felt so good to walk in to our local elementary school, cast a ballot, and collect my sticker.

With Tilly starting day care this week I have more time at my desk than I've had for a long time and there is much to catch up on. But I am far too nervous to write today. So instead I'll fill my work time with small tasks... until tomorrow, when hopefully all the ballots have been counted.

Halloween on the way

I've long had dreams of coming up with super creative costumes for my kid when the time came, but it would seem that we are still at the age where Tilly would likely tolerate a costume for not more than ten minutes before pulling it off and taking it apart to examine it. So this year I'm afraid I will have to settle for admiring other's crafty projects. Oh Happy Day! has been posting a number of adorable costumes in recent weeks. In particular I thought this one was sweet, based on The Red Balloon. I had the book as a kid and was totally fascinated. Do you have any big plans for your trick-or-treater?


I often read this blog for bits of inspiration. This weekend she posted a great quote from one of the hackers responsible for some big time sabotage. A condition of his bail required that he not be able to use the internet. Here is what he had to say about the experience.

It's so hard to imagine life without the internet. How long do you think you could last? Do you think it would make you more creative? I don't think I've gone more than a few days since day one. Although the way he describes it makes me want to try for longer:

"Things are calmer, slower and at times, I'll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.

It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span.

For it is our attention spans that have suffered the most. Our lives are compressed into short, advertisement-like bursts or "tweets". The constant stream of drivel fills page after page, eating away at our creativity. If hashtags were rice grains, do you know how many starving families we could feed? Neither do I – I can't Google it."

The Montague Bookmill

Happy new year all! This New Year's Eve we ventured out to a cozy spot I've been wanting to explore for awhile, The Montague Bookmill. I'd been spotting bumper stickers around town that said "books you don't need in a place you can't find", so naturally I was intrigued. The place lived up to it's great tag line.

Montague is an adorable little town tucked away on the Sawmill River. The old mill building turned book store/restaurant/art gallery is just what you'd expect; gorgeous exposed wood beams, giant windows looking out over the rapids, and great little architectural details all over the place.

We had brunch in The Lady Killigrew Cafe overlooking the water.

After brunch we explored the book store with it's large stacks and little reading nooks tucked away all over the place.

I picked up a new title by friend Leo Landry, can't wait to read it to Tilly when she's older.

She couldn't wait to get home to start reading.

I wonder who she takes after.

On our way out we went by The Night Kitchen Restaurant. They were closed but we're excited to check it out on our next visit!


"The first Penguin edition of EV Rieu's translation of Homer had a Greek sailor on the cover, with a disclaimer inside: "Not an authentic depiction of a Greek sailor". They then put a penguin on the cover instead – but forgot to change the disclaimer."

-from The Katharaine Whitehorn experience

Maybe I should start including disclaimers in my books, eg "not an authentic depiction of a rabbit photographer."

(Via Peonies and Polaroids)

Dream job

Our neighborhood here in San Francisco is teeming with families and the accompanying stores full of kid stuff, especially clothes and toys. I spend a lot of time taking baby on long walks and window shopping. Last week I wandered into a lovely store called Speesees a few blocks from our apartment. Everything is organic and fair trade and I just love the design. I can't wait til Tilda is old enough to wear this:

Or these:

They had some stuffed toys too:

I got to chatting with the owner and designer who is also a painter. When she found our I illustrated children's books she exclaimed that was her dream job. Its funny how the grass is always greener. I love my job but designing kids clothes sounds like a dream job to me!

San Fran digs

This has been a year for change in many ways. I finished two book projects long in the works, moved to Northampton, MA from Boston, and am now starting a family. But the latest big news is that we'll be traveling to San Francisco for 9 months so that Bruno (my fella) can do an internship for his graduate program. So in addition to getting ready for the baby and the launch of Disappearing Desmond in a few short weeks, we are madly apartment hunting!

We've been scouring Craigslist for a one bedroom in the city that will take cats and let us have a 9 month lease. If anyone has and leads or suggestions for finding a place from a distance any advice is most welcome!

All things blue rose

This weekend some of us Blue Rose Girls got together to do some celebrating. There was a lot to celebrate... birthdays for Libby and Alvina, Grace finishing the first draft of her new novel, and my little BRG baby on the way.

There were of course blue rose cupcakes created by Grace:

And blue flowers on the table:

Baby on the way was given the most adorable little blue rose outfit, complete with headband (!):

Then we went out to do some shopping. I've been wanting to make a mobile to go over the baby's crib, something like this (pic via Greyhood):

When we were out and about Libby, Grace and I spotted these lovely Vietnamese "prosperity hens":

Aren't they sweet? We all got some to hang around the house. I am working on how to convert mine into a mobile...

Chronicle Sale

Twice a year Chronicle Books offers a fabulous discount to friends and family- last time I made out like a bandit with bunches of kid's books and stationary. The sale is up again, here is the deal:

"It's our annual Friends & Family Summer Sale! Now through July 28th, get 35% off plus FREE ground shipping on with promo code FRIENDS.

Craft books, cookbooks, kids’ books, stationery, Moleskines... it’s all on sale! We only offer this discount twice a year (summer & holiday) so it’s a fantastic deal, not to be missed. Enjoy!"

Some great finds I am thinking of for myself:

Camping out

Oh the heat! If you are on the east coast you know what I mean. Hope you're staying someplace indoor and cool. We have temporarily moved all essentials into the bedroom, where we have a little ac unit working very hard at its job- its a little tight with my drafting table stuffed in the corner so I can paint and Bruno with my desktop into another corner so that he can write papers (his laptop just exploded, its been a great week) and the cats sleeping on every available surface (or running in circles wondering why we've locked them in this tiny room). But its better than melting in the rest of the apartment. And its a cozy in a way, a little concentrated family time.

On the Media: Book It

On the Media is one of my favorite NPR shows, I like to listen if I'm working on the weekends. This weekend they replayed a great recent show about the book industry, check it out here.

There are some very reassuring words from the founder of Publisher's Marketplace. He says recent book sales aren't really all that different than usual, even with e-books in the mix, and on the whole book publishing has taken a much smaller hit than other industries in this economy.

AlA recap

It was a great weekend at ALA! I only wish I could have squeezed in some signings and chatted with more folks, I think the heat might have melted my brain a little and slowed me down. Also being pregnant I was a little less mobile than usual.

Anyways, my ALA weekend started at a Random House cocktail party at the Newseum. My publisher was celebrating the launch of the Cat in the Hat PBS show, and hosted a lovely party (complete with Thing 1 and Thing 2 cocktails) up on the rooftop below. We only stepped out on the deck for a few minutes as it was 100 degrees, but I did get these shots...

Then is was off to a lovely celebration dinner with Grace and company.

Sunday I visited the convention center and strolled along the isles looking at all the publisher's displays. Then in the evening headed back to Libby and Alvina's hotel to change for the banquet, which Grace so generously gave us all tickets to. Choosing my outfit was less about finding the perfect dress and more about finding something appropriate that would fit over my belly, but I managed with a very stretchy dress I bought on Etsy.

I didn't take as many pictures as I should have, but I did get this one of the beautiful programs, filled with art from The Lion & the Mouse.

This is the banquet hall, SO big.

When they called Grace's name we all got up and cheered! She looked gorgeous with a glowing smile on her face. Such a perfect moment.

Then came Jerry Pinkney's speech, throughout which he had an irrepressible grin. I loved that he has his whole family stand up to be cheered for (librarians sure know how to hoot and holler!).

I found Rebecca Stead's speech incredibly moving. She divided it into four parts... how she became a writer, found the courage to keep working on her novel then accept the attention it brought, then ended with all the ways in which she is grateful. It was so humble and relatable. Especially the part where she talked about always fearing the moment when people sung her happy birthday and were all staring at her... she said winning the award felt like a million happy birthdays, but she loved it!

Here is me, Libby, and Elaine at our table. Again, I wish I had taken more pictures, but hopefully other people's posts (there are a number on BRG here, here, and here) will fill in where mine leaves off. Congratulations Grace and all the winners!

Back from ALA

Home at last after a busy week of travel! I'll have more to post soon from my trip to DC for ALA, but for now a picture of us Blue Rose Girls at the Caldecott/Newbery awards banquet. We all stood up and cheered as Grace accepted her well deserved honor for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!

From left to right: me (and my 5 month pregnant belly), Libby Koponen, Grace Lin, Meghan McCarthy, Alvina Ling, Elaine Magliaro.