7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #119: Featuring Our Own Little Mad Tea Party: Henry Cole, Erica Perl, and Linda Urban

h1 June 14th, 2009 by Eisha and Jules

“Now Mouse was really, really, really, really mad. Standing-still mad. Mouse did not hop. He did not stomp. He did not scream or roll on the ground. He stood very, very still. ‘Impressive,’ said Hare. ‘What control,’ said Bear.
‘Are you breathing?’ asked Hedgehog.”
— From
Mouse Was Mad (Click image to enlarge.)

Jules: Welcome to our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. Say that seven times fast.

This week we have one illustrator, Mr. Henry Cole (who has worked on more than fifty books and whom Erica Perl calls “a national treasure,” and I’d have to agree), and two authors, Ms. Perl herself and Linda Urban, whose stories Henry has illustrated this year in Linda’s Mouse Was Mad (pictured above) and Erica’s Chicken Butt! Know what? Yeah, I said chicken butt.

If you haven’t seen these titles yet and especially if you live and/or work with preschool children, I’m here to say that if you manage to get yourself copies and take a gander, you won’t be disappointed. Erica (who penned this very funny picture book in 2006) brings us Chicken Butt!, released by Abrams in April. She’s adapted into picture book form the classic school-yard rhyme, turning it into a call-and-response between a frustrated father, just trying to read the newspaper on a lazy afternoon, and his son, who manages to let a tattooed chicken—with, yes, a butt—follow him home. Publishers Weekly describes Henry’s art work in this one as “wryly effervescent as ever,” and Kirkus calls the book’s romp “a powerful piece of cacophony.” As for Linda’s Mouse Was Mad, released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May and met with great reviews all-around, well…move over, Sophie. (Okay, so she doesn’t really have to move over. That’s a great book, too.) This is a tale of a wee, WEE—but determined—mouse who is literally hoppin’ mad and trying to find just the right way to vent his anger. Mouse is also painfully adorable, but—as Kelly Fineman’s already put it—don’t tell him, because “being told one is adorable when one is angry is cause for still more rage.” Linda is the author of 2007’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect, and this is her first picture book.

As you can see, I’ve got a bit of Henry-art today. I had wanted to include this in my posts last week (here and here), shining a light on cartoon illustrations, but I knew that Erica and Linda would be stopping by today to say hi. So, here they all are. Let’s get to it — before we go kickin’ . . .

Linda: “ So much of our very young lives is spent being told what to do by people who are larger than we are. ‘Let’s go. No, this way. Get in the car. No, in your carseat. Now buckle up.’ This used to make my rather independent daughter very, very mad. Even worse? She was very, very cute when she got mad, and sometimes grown-ups could not help but laugh upon seeing her very, very mad face. Which, of course, made her even more angry. I wasn’t thinking consciously about any of that when I wrote Mouse was Mad, but it was so much a part of my everyday world at the time, that the story just spilled on the page that way.

Henry’s illustrations were a delightful surprise. I saw the cover first. My editor, Jeannette Larson, pulled it from the envelope and set it on my kitchen table and started talking about how the background color would likely change and how this or that would be different, but I’m afraid I wasn’t listening very well. I was staring at that adorable, stompin’-mad mouse, thinking, ‘is it really you?’ He was perfect.

It wasn’t until I saw the mechanicals that I thought about what a challenge this book must have been to illustrate -– not that Henry had made it look anything other than effortless. It’s just that you’ve got this little, tiny mouse, and his friends are all so much bigger, but Mouse has to remain the focus of each spread. Plus, every woodland character in the book—Mouse, Hare, Bobcat, Bear, Hedgehog—is BROWN. That’s a lot of brown on the page, not to mention all the mucky mud puddles Mouse falls into. The biggest challenge, however, must have been that the book gets its dramatic power from the difference between motion and stillness, something that Henry had to convey through images which are themselves still. Not an easy task, I’d guess. Except that Henry nailed it. And it isn’t just me talking. This is what Kirkus said: ‘Cole’s terrific watercolors reflect Mouse’s emotional growth in spreads and spots brimming with movement. Who knew standing still could be so dramatic?’ Now, I haven’t asked Henry about any of this. Could be that the things that I think of as challenges were first-try easy for Henry. But I can’t help but be impressed by his solutions to what would have been absolute stumpers to me.

I’m working on a novel now, but I sure hope to write something else illustratable in the future. Illustrations are one of the great joys of children’s books. Oh heck, of all books. I wish more books were illustrated. Fiction and nonfiction. How much better would tax guides and diet books be if they had pissed-off mice stomping around the margins?

“Mouse opened his mouth wide and let out the loudest scream he could manage. No echo. He tried arching his back like Bobcat but lost his balance and fell—SPLOSH!—into yet another mucky mud puddle.”
(Click image to enlarge.)

Erica: “ I always liked the goofy repartee of ‘You know what? Chicken Butt!’ and I had this idea about doing a lift-the-flap board book called Chicken Butt! with illustrations of a cartoon chicken displaying its parts (e.g. ‘You know why? Chicken Thigh!’). But as I worked on the project and revised it, two voices (parent and child) emerged and I realized I was writing about a classic scenario I had encountered many times as a parent: A child clowning for attention, then letting his natural exuberance get the better of him, thus testing the limits of parental patience and good humor. A comic drama for two characters, if you will (three, if you count the chicken). I worked very hard to develop a four-act structure to this little play and to make the characters’ voices feel real, so the book would work well as a read-aloud for a solo reader, two readers, or a group. Yet, I gave almost no thought to how the characters would look, or even if they would appear at all. (In my original book dummy, only the chicken appears). Which is a real testament to Henry’s illustration talents… the text is written completely in dialogue.

(Click to enlarge.)

During the design process, Chad Beckerman (the art director), Susan Van Metre (my editor), and I sat down and had some very silly discussions about context for the story. We knew there should be a physical chicken present, and we wondered how to ‘explain’ his presence in the story. We liked the idea that the kid would be trying to get the parent’s attention, which is how we decided the parent should be engrossed in the newspaper. Originally, we thought they might be at a playground, then walking home, but this offered no opportunity for the kid to see a chicken or get the idea for the joke. Eventually, we came up with the idea of the newsstand and the chicken-themed titles and images. Henry really had fun with these, inventing periodicals like ‘Feathered Beauties’ and ‘Shake and Bake Weekly’ (see the first page in the book, which may well be my favorite). And he did such an amazing job drawing the father and son—the tone is perfectly captured in the eyebrows alone—plus that wonderful, wacky chicken. Henry draws wonderful animals of all kids, but he has a special gift with chickens, and Chicken Butt! is no exception.

What is next for me? Two completely different things: My first young adult novel (just received the bound galleys today — woo hoo!), which is Vintage Veronica and is coming out Spring 2010 from Knopf. {Pictured below.} And Dotty, which is my next picture book and which is gorgeously illustrated by Julia Denos, comes out Fall 2010 from Abrams. I have other books in the pipeline as well, plus Henry and I are discussing collaborating on another Chicken Butt! book. Stay tuned…

You know what? Many thanks to everyone for stopping by. (AND chicken butt.)

{CHICKEN BUTT! © 2009 by Erica Perl. Illustrations © 2009 by Henry Cole. Published by Abrams. New York, NY. Posted with permission of publisher. All rights reserved.}

{MOUSE WAS MAD © 2009 by Linda Urban. Illustrations © 2009 by Henry Cole. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. New York, NY. Posted with permission of publisher. All rights reserved.}

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

Not sure where Eisha is. Maybe she’ll appear later.

1). Henry. Erica. Linda. And what Linda said about illustrated books. Yeah. Why can’t we have more—for all ages—in this world?

2). My birthday surprise for one of my friends worked out well: She and her husband and wee babe live on a super tight budget, as most of us do these days, and she was telling me recently how she longs for a simple back deck on the back of their home. So, with her husband’s help and knowing her birthday was coming up, I emailed a bunch of her friends and family last month, all shhhh-like, and everyone snail-mailed me money for a super stealthy secret Back Deck Fund, a big ol’ birthday surprise. People responded well, and I was able to hand over a decently-sized chunk o’ change to her this week on her birthday for a future back deck — from everyone who lurvs her. And she loved it. I can’t wait ’til that thing gets built.

3). Michael Caine in Children of Men, a 2006 flick we watched this week.

4). Good reading. Some of it I’ve already delved into. Some, not yet: An ARC of Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady. Jarrett’s gonna stop by here in July to talk about it a bit. (And did you see this news? And the book’s not even officially out yet. Wild.) Also: An ARC of Matt Phelan’s debut graphic novel The Storm in the Barn. (I love me some Matt Phelan artwork.) Also: Thanks to Susan, I’m reading Maureen Corrigan’s Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading!: Finding and Losing Myself in Books, which is great.

A little book fairy sent me the ARC of Sara Lewis Holme’s Operation Yes. Not only do I love it so far (still reading), but it also just so happens that it’s exactly what I need to be reading right now. Not to get too terribly personal, but I’m coming up next month on the ten-year anniversary of my brother’s death, and I found this week that it’s already getting to me. Just when I was feeling really sorry for myself—and even about as angry as Mouse up there—I picked up this book, which Sara’s already mentioned was inspired, in part, by a quote from Philo of Alexandria: “Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a great battle.” Which made me feel not-so-alone and not-so sorry for myself. (Which is good. Self-pity never gets you far.) And Sara has a way in her writing (effortless is how she makes it look) of getting right to the heart of things, in more ways than one, and that’s been good for me this week, too. And, at the point at which I’m in the story now, I love where she’s taking things. Like hell I’m gonna reveal any type of spoilers here, though, so that’s all I’m sayin’.

That was long. Sorry.

5). This poem, which Liz posted a while ago, but I found belatedly. I printed that out and stuck it in my oldest’s baby book.

6). Reading Chapter 7 In Which Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest and Piglet Has a Bath in here with my girls. The five-year-old was laughing very hard, and her very laugh makes me laugh very hard. Also, thanks to Little Willow’s recommendation, we’re enjoying Lynne Reid Banks’ The Fairy Rebel.

7). After making that mix for my nephew last week, I re-discovered my love for Ben Folds Five’s debut CD (from way back in ’95). “Re-discovered” means I listened to “The Last Polka” about eleventy-hundred times while driving. Really, REALLY loudly. And pretended I had enough piano talent to bang away on the piano like Ben does — or talent on the drums like Darren. Man, I love the very way that song is constructed. Best polka song ever.

Bonus: Tanita’s second novel, Mare’s War, was released this week, you guys! I’ll be getting my copy this weekend at a trip to the nearest bookstore in which a visit from Madeline is promised. (My girls are excited, and if she’s one of those sweaty-persons-in-an-oversized-hairy-doll-suit, I’m gonna be disappointed.)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

35 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #119: Featuring Our Own Little Mad Tea Party: Henry Cole, Erica Perl, and Linda Urban”

  1. A great kick for me was reconnecting through this entry with Henry Cole, a great friend of RIF! Anyone who has not seen Henry in action with children has missed a treat, not to mention the treat for the children. I am now going to track him down to say hello! And having incredible Buffalo Wings in Buffalo at the original site as noted in Rasco from RIF (www.rascofromrif.org) was another kick…thanks for a great week’s end kick, Jules!

  2. Really, I am commenting as one of the firsts? Really? I have Chicken Butt and laughed out loud. I can’t wait to get my hands on Mouse was Mad. Too cute!
    Jules (and Sara) I am looking forward to reading Operation Yes. There are several students in my schools whose parents are overseas right now.
    My Kicks:
    1. Our trip to see friends in Idaho last week. I experienced for the first time homemade sausage gravy and biscuits. Yummy! Never had it before.
    2. The cast party on Tuesday was a decent, fun affair. We manged 50+ kids without wondering, “why did we do this”? Playing Anansi Bingo was key.
    3. Money is continuing to roll in for Bridget’s medical fund. I was happy to hear that some people donated money based on the 48 hours reading challenge.
    4. I am about ready to plant my New Jersey tomatoes I raised from seed into Oregon soil. Will they be New Jersore tomatoes now?
    5. School is out on Thursday the 18th. Yippee. 35years of teaching behind me.
    6. Saw one of the biggest and most beautiful dragonflies ever in the garden yesterday.
    7. Silksinger by Laini Taylor…I think maybe even better than Blackbringer.
    Have a great week.

  3. Happy Sunday!

    I’m SO lovin’ the Henry Cole art, and hearing from Erica and Linda on their fab picture books. Both are exuberant read alouds and endless fun. And the birthday surprise for your friend is awesome and brilliant — but to be honest, I’m not too surprised, since you’re just one of the most generous and thoughtful people around and then some. And lucky you, reading Sara’s new book.

    I’m missing Eisha today. Just thought about her “love” for cilantro last night. But to her credit, she’s had some great chocolate recommendations. 🙂

    Jone, congratulations on 35 years of teaching! And sausage gravy and biscuits is something I’ve yet to taste. Yum.


    1. Release of MARE’S WAR! Tanita’s had special giveaways all week and is posting some awesome photos of African American WACs. I won a signed copy by submitting a news article about my mom, who, not too unlike Mare, lied about her age in order to enlist in the army during WWII. As an Asian American, she also experienced some prejudice. She won’t tell me too much about it, but I sense she had some unpleasant experiences when she traveled to Georgia for basic training. Tanita’s book has made me rethink my mom’s courage and contribution to the war effort.

    2. Our baby birds have hatched!! Remember the birds nest on our porch? We’re the proud guardians of three little cheepers with yellow beaks. We love watching the mom feed her babies, and how protective both parents get when anyone approaches the porch.

    3. Speaking of babies, I saw an adorable spotted fawn with her mother. Wobbly legs, just like Bambi and everything. Despite the gross overdevelopment in our area, it’s good to know nature keeps finding a way to bring us little miracles, reminding us of what is truly important.

    4. Reading a bunch of gardening picture books. Is Sarah Stewart’s The Gardener just one of the best or what?

    5. Went to our godson’s graduation party last night. At one point, he gave a little speech, and when he got to the part about saying how much it meant to him to have all of us in his life, and caring about him, and how appreciative he was that we even came, he teared up. He was adopted from Korea, always been a sensitive kid, and so grateful to have people who love him. I was blown away that a teenage boy wasn’t afraid to be so emotionally honest in public.

    6. A beautiful card fairy sent me a cake greeting!! :9

    7. Watching a ton of Little House episodes in preparation for my interview with Sidney Greenbush (who played Carrie in the series).

    Have a good week, one and all.

  4. It was my first for sausage and gravy. Nothing we ever ate as I was growing up and certainly nothing I would ever order from a restaurant. Spoiled by the homemade goodness,will not order out.

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever made it here this early. I feel so organised.

    Jules, your present for your friend was so thoughtful! How special that deck will feel to her once it’s built.

    Best wishes for a yummy tomato crop, Jone!

    Jama, what a treat to have baby birds on your porch and bambi come visit.

    My list:

    1. My cousin had a healthy & beautiful baby girl last week!
    2. I wasn’t here last weekend as I ended up taking a fairly last minute trip to Paris (my partner was working over there). Although I have a collection of train adorned stamps in my passport, I still love the surprise of being able to CATCH A TRAIN to a different country.
    3. We had a fantastic time, lots of walking, people watching from cafes, admiring (and buying) piles of fresh cherries from the market and drooling over the best bakeries in the world.
    4. We also had an utterly excellent meal at a restaurant I had read about and then booked through with the help of a French friend at work. The sort of meal where the food was relatively simple but every ingredient was perfect.
    5. Serious cleaning went on in our house this weekend. A zillion empty cardboard boxes were hauled to the recycling centre. The rug on the lounge room floor was washed. And most impressively of all, the study cupboard, which previously couldn’t be shut due to the piles of stuff is now neatly sorted.
    6. I haven’t mentioned some of the yummy vegetables we’ve been getting now that spring/summer has arrived. A new one to me was wet garlic, which is basically fresh baby garlic that is so mild you can eat both the small bulb and the green leaves. Yum!
    7. My first sweet pea blossom came out today. It smells wonderful.

  6. I love Henry Cole, and check out that mad, mad mouse! I think I bought both of these for the library, but I think I missed reading them when they came in. Must fix that.

    Also, look at that cover for Vintage Veronica. To me, it screams, “READ ME RIGHT NOW.” There’s a dress, there’s lace… and polka dots! I’m in.

    Jules, Sometimes you just have to be sad. I’m glad the book’s helping. I read it the same week as my late husband’s birthday, and it had the safe effect for me.

    Jone, Congrats on 35 years of teaching! WOO!

    Jama, I’ve been eating lots of cilantro and thinking about eisha round these parts, too. I have a big old bunch of it in the fridge even now.

    My kicks:
    1. My mom gave me a dehydrator! I know this is completely geeky, but I have wanted one for SO LONG. I want it primarily to dry tomatoes, but I’m also really looking forward to drying fruit to use when I make granola. Today, I think I’m going to try it out on some onions just because I’m anxious to take it on a test run, and I’ve been getting tons of onions from my CSA farm.
    2. The strawberries are starting to come in! I’m going to a farm that I know has them tomorrow so I can buy some to eat in my yogurt and more to start freezing and–thanks to Mom!–drying.
    3. Friday night was my first trip to the drive-in this year. We saw Up and the new Night at the Museum, which was a good double-feature. Night at the Museum was, you know, a sequel. But Up was quite good.
    4. Although I identified way too much with the main character of Up, and I think I found it much more harrowing than the average viewer. I was like, “OH MY GOD NO HE CAN’T GIVE UP THOSE CHAIRS! GO BACK! GO BACK!” But, hey, catharsis is good, right? So we’ll list it as a kick.
    5. Yesterday, I went canoeing with friends. Good times.
    6. Yesterday, I also got a card in the mail from Jules! Love that real mail thing.
    7. Earlier this week, I had a big old tree removed in my yard. This was a hard years-in-the-making decision, but this tree was huge and unstable and overhung both my house and the neighbor’s. It made me really sad to see it go, but I’m glad it went this way and not in a spectacular fall on my house or the neighbor’s. Also, this should result in me having to clean out my gutters on that side of the house less frequently. (Thanks to that tree constantly clogging the downspout, I have been having to get up on a ladder and clean them out at least every week or two for years now, which is no fun.)

    Also, bonus, it’s Sunday! I love Sunday.

  7. Hey, all. I have accounted for Eisha and she’s just out having fun.

    Rasco from RIF, may I have your name? Also, have fun connecting with Henry. I tried to track him down for this feature in various ways, but it obviously didn’t work. Tell him we all love his art work and to come by 7-Imp some time.

    Jone, 35 years?! Congrats! And the cast party sounds fun, especially Anansi Bingo. Kudos again to you—and everyone who’s contributed—for all the money raised for Bridget.

    Jama, that’s awfully sweet about your godson. Go, him! Little boys who are taught that crying=”sissy” or whatever…well, it makes me very, very mad. Baby fawns, too! Oh, and the LAME-O bookstore I went to yesterday not only had a lame, mute Madeline, but they DID NOT HAVE TANITA’S BOOK. What the hell is wrong with them? I say. And I now think less of them. Will have to look elsewhere.

    Emmaco, wet garlic. Mmm. Sweet peas, too. That is fabulous about Paris, and I’m so jealous. Not in a stabby way, though. We went there on our honeymoon trip to Europe, but Paris was way too short a stop. …Congratulations to your cousin! What’s the girl’s name, if I may ask. I love girls’ names.

    Adrienne, I wondered if “Up” would be some serious catharsis for you. (We saw it two weeks ago, I guess it was, and I thought of you.) When he let go of that balloon and stuff…holy crap, so sad for, of course, all that it represented. Those Pixar people, making me cry. That piano music, too. Beautiful. …All that fruit sounds so yummy, and hey, I want some of your granola. And congrats on getting the tree down, not for the loss of the tree and all that it probably represented, but for the courage in making a hard decision and the money you avoided on having to pay for your neighbor’s roof after a Bad Storm in the Future. Smiley emoticon! Smiley emoticon!

  8. Man, that mouse is adorable. Jules, I really liked Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, too. I’m glad you’re finding the right books to read during a tough time – anniversaries are hard. And Jone, I agree about Silksinger. As for me:

    1. I read and loved Tanita’s book.
    2. I received a package this week from Scholastic containing Operation Yes and Shiver, two titles that I’m extra-eager to read (even more so now, for the first one). And yet, I must confess, that I’m re-reading Stephen King’s The Stand, which has an odd and inexplicable power to call to me from the shelf every few years, and demand to be read.
    3. The Red Sox swept the Yankees this week, going to 8 and 0 on the season so far (the best start vs. the Yankees since 1912).
    4. I got my name (I went for Jen.Robinson) in the Facebook vanity URL gold rush.
    5. We got a bunch of our Hawaii pictures printed out (including the road sign for the town of Haiku, of course), and to my great astonishment, I look presentable in some of them. (Usually I like about 1 per 100 photos of myself, but there must have been sommething in the Hawaiian air that made me more relaxed).
    6. I also printed out one from this “tranquility room” at a spa where I spent time reading in front of a huge window open to the ocean. I put it up in my kitchen. So now I can look at the picture, take a deep breath, and relax, during my workday.
    7. We’re in the middle of re-watching South Pacific. I so love the music, and the scenery.

    Happy Sunday, all! (PS, Rasco from RIF is Carol Rasco, CEO of RIF)

  9. Jules, It’s Pixar, though, isn’t it? I mean, everyone was all “That Dori in Finding Nemo is so funny” (which, okay, she was), but I was more like, “THEY LOST THEIR WHOLE FAMILY! THIS IS SO AWFUL! I FEEL BAD!” Etc. But, you know, bonus points to Pixar for being pretty much the only people consistently creating movies for children about real subjects and not shying away from real themes. Like the way Carl hit that dude who broke his mailbox. In that scene, the filmmakers were perfectly willing to admit that grief can make you angry and a little crazy, and they did it in a way that really made the viewer empathize with both people involved in that altercation. I mean, I did want that other guy to GET HIS FREAKING HANDS OFF THE MAILBOX, but it wasn’t to the point where he was villainized because I also felt badly for him when he was bleeding. Other studios–okay, DreamWorks–would have felt the need to throw in a fart joke or something to lighten the mood. Not that there’s anything wrong with a fart joke, but you know.

    Obviously, I’ve been giving this some consideration.

    But what I really loved about that movie was Kevin the bird.

  10. Jen, why now, I didn’t know that about Carol, but I still think it’s fun to say “Rasco from RIF” and wish I could make my name really fun to say. Thanks for the info.

    (How about “Jumpin’ Jules,” since my childhood nickname, at least from our neighbor, was “Jumpin’ Julie,” ’cause I was so stinkin’ hyper.)

    I’m looking forward to reading your review of Tanita’s book. And I’ve GOTTA read The Stand one day. …Are you going to post your Haiku photo? Hope so, hope so.

    I got julie.danielson for Facebook myself. Go figure. I’m not sure why I signed up, since there are some days I consider dropping the account altogether (no offense to FB, in particular, but just to simplify), but I guess it will be pretty handy to say that one can go to facebook.com/julie.danielson, or however it works.

    You’re right about Pixar, Adrienne. As I type, my girls are watching “Toy Story” in the next room, and I’ve been thinking, as I work on something in here, about how Pixar also very obviously makes their movies enjoyable for adults, too. Which is another good thing, for many reasons, but mostly ’cause it gets parents sitting down with their kids. (Of course, I’m not doing that now, but this is the eleventy billionth time they’ve seen the movie.)

    I also appreciate things like Woody yelling at Buzz in frustration to “SHUT UP!” — that Pixar’s not scared of things like that…which I know not all parents would agree with, but you know, sometimes you’re just THAT frustrated.

    Speaking of Nemo, as you did, my girls are currently OBSESSED with it, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen and heard it. When Marlin (isn’t that Nemo’s dad’s name?) loses his family AND when Dori tells Nemo’s dad that he’s her “home” toward the end of the film (and that crack in Ellen Degeneres’ voice when she delivers the line)…okay, see? I start crying again. Yep, those Pixar people.

    Obviously, I’ve heard that movie a lot lately.

    And, yeah, Kevin the Bird’s pretty great. I want to see “Up” again one day, in general, ’cause the girls kept slipping off their 3D glasses and I was too concerned about convincing them to put them back on that I missed quite a few screen shots in the beginning.

    Haven’t they announced that, from now on, all their movies will be 3D?

  11. Her name is Tayla. My experience of my cousin’s babies so far is that I soon forget all about my initial impression of their names as they grow up.

  12. Hi Jules,

    Let’s see if your host will let me put the Haiku picture here:

    (click to enlarge)

  13. Guess not. Here’s the link:


  14. Hello there, Linda, Henry, and Erica! I look forward to reading Mouse is Mad. Chicken Butt, based on the title alone, is bound to be a favorite with kids everywhere. 😉 I dig the cover of Vintage Veronica.

    Jules: What a wonderful gift to give to your friend. Oooh to Operation Yes! I am SO happy to hear that your family is enjoying The Fairy Rebel. That will always be one of my favorite novels for kids. I’d watch that Ben Folds video you posted if I weren’t watching the end of one of my favorite movies, Ball of Fire. How was the Madeleine event? We had one of those, and yes, it was a person in an outfit with a big, fake head. It was very strange because, unlike most of the costume characters we hosted, that costume didn’t come with pieces for the legs or feet, which meant our co-worker had to wear tights and her own shoes, and her legs looked disproportionate to the rest of the ensemble!

    Hi Rasco.

    jone: Congrats on wrangling that many kids and having a fun cast party. HURRAH for the donations! Hello to the dragonfly and to your students.

    jama: You sound very happy. Yay. Hi to the little birdies and Bambi!

    emmaco: Tell the munchkin that I said, “Welcome to the world, baby girl!” Ooh la la to your Paris trip. YAY RECYCLING! Mmm, veggies and flowers.

    adrienne: Yum, strawberries! Have fun with the dehydrator. Wow, canoeing.

    Jen: Enjoy the books, the pictures, and the movie.

    GO TANITA! I read and loved Mare’s War.

    Posting this quickly before the screen closes – will post my kicks next.

  15. My kicks for the past week:
    1) Rehearsals for the fairy tale show (lots of laughter)
    2) Being a prima ballerina (only two more weeks of shows = I’m sad!)
    3) Being a part of a 24-hour play fest/fundraiser yesterday – people wrote the plays on Friday night, then the actors and directors got the plays on Saturday morning, rehearsed, blocked, memorized, and performed _twice_ last night! I had a crazy-fun part.
    4) Friends coming to the shows last night
    5) Auditioning on Saturday
    6) Hope, always
    7) TCM showed some of my favorite films this weekend – for example, BALL OF FIRE is on now! 🙂

    Have to run – I’m going to go see a play that a friend of mine wrote, and I’m bringing a visiting-from-out-of-town friend along!

  16. I’ve been a lurker ever since linking to you from Fuse, pre her SLJ blog. Overwhelmed by your educations and great jobs, and blogging talents on this site. But I have to finally comment because you have all meant so much to me and it was time to let you know.
    I grew up with mostly black and white books and so began collecting children’s books (not “collecting” collecting) just for pleasure as an adult before I had children. Children’s book blogs have been such a joy for me to discover, but yours has been most special. I have loved “meeting” the wonderful artists, authors, librarians, teachers, etc. etc. who visit here. I have loved the colors, the photography, food descriptions, kindnesses shared, love for children, music, Portland (where my Mom grew up), etc.
    This is kind of a lifetime kick for me–the pleasure of visiting your site, but esp. since my husband died unexpectedly a year and a half ago. It has been the one place where I knew on Sunday nights I could find joy, kindness, beauty, laughter. Without knowing it you have kept this stranger going just by being yourselves. What fabulous jobs some of you have too! So fun to hear about.
    So that is really kick no. 1.
    2. Spring weather! We went from winter to summer in No. CA, and now we get to have spring! Odd for those who want to swim, but so nice to have. It also delays fire season, which is a real blessing. Last year this week was the beginning of one of the worst fires in our area and we had smoke and ash and worry for weeks.
    3. Took care of my 5 year old grandson this week and it went well. Longest we’ve ever tried. Special bonus–I got to bring him a book he didn’t know about yet–Pigeon wants a puppy! He loves so many books, but the first Pigeon one is a fave right now and he was over the moon to find out there was another one!
    Extra treat for me because I raised his Mom too well–she’s always taking him to the library and he already knows so many books! Extra, extra treat that he loves these books because usually I have to read books about mechanical things with him and talk about all the parts of everything, etc. So nice to share a STORY!
    4. Getting introduced to the Mouse was Mad book! I need this book, cause I’ve been mad a lot this last year and a half! For me, mad has been much easier than sad–it’s kind of a cleansing burn thing I think. But eventually I’ve got to get over it and I think Mouse will help. Kids at school will like him too.
    5. Finishing up the school year this week. I am a Library Media Asst. in an elem. school of over 640 low-income kids. I love my job, but do get burnt out by the end of the year. We have a District Elem. librarian for all of our schools, so I’m basically it at my school and part-time at that. Welcome to CA and it’s lower school funding, getting lower all the time! This year extra hard with teachers getting lay-off notices–some of our most talented and young teachers (okay, some not so young–it’s a big cut) will not be back next year, very sad time. I also miss the energy and humor of being around kids during the summer, so end of year is always mixed for me. It helps that the last couple of weeks I’m doing billing, not seeing classes and dealing with upset parents. I’m def. glad to be done with that!
    6. Learning about Operation Yes by Sarah Lewis Holmes from you! I will be looking for this now. I find times of transition to be esp. hard, missing my hubby and my beautiful 18 yr old niece who died over 5 years ago. Thank goodness for the comfort and thoughtfulness of books! I had just discovered and adopted the Philo of Alexandria quote about kindness and battles, so this book will speak to me, I know. I just finished a book of the type I would have never read before (general adult fict.–I’m all about kids books, mysteries, biographies and so on), called Pieces of the Heart by Karen White. It involves the death of a brother when the protag was college age and the pain of it over 13 years, a lake, swimming, loons and memory quilts. Kind of a grown up Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars which I loved years ago.
    7. The talents of the people here! Jone retiring from teaching after 35 years. Teachers are heroes! I was good in school so everyone thot I’d be a teacher someday (we have a teacher’s college at our Cal State here), but I knew it wasn’t for me. So much energy, talent and the ability to put up with parents with patience–I knew I wasn’t suited!
    Willow’s wonderful posts! I always admire those with the gifts I don’t have! Love living vicariously!
    Eisha’s fantastic job! I mean really–and good colleagues too!
    Thanks to all of your for being yourselves and to Jules and Eisha for bringing you together. I read some of your blogs, will be reading some of your books this summer and will probably be going back to look at archives to savor some of the things I didn’t have time for before! Photos-ice! England! Dolls!
    Have a great week everyone!

  17. Emmaco, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that name before. That’s a first for me.

    Jen, thanks for the pic. I believe you now. Hey, wait. I believed you before.

    Little Willow, yes, it was THAT Madeline. So weird. I think her face and plastic smile would have scared me when I was little. I don’t know what I was expecting for a bookstore chain, though. It’s not like they’re going to hire some red-headed actress who will come bounding into the room, yelling, I SAY POO-POO TO THE LIONS IN THE ZOO, inviting everyone to tea.

    Anyway, what fun kicks, as usual — esp. #3. Have fun tonight!

    Andrea, that is the NICEST message EVER, and I thank you. I mean, wow. I’m very glad to hear that our regular kicks tradition—and all of our endlessly-fascinating kickers with their fascinating lives—helped keep you going in hard times. That makes my day, my week, my year, my all-our-years-of-blogging!

    Yes, I think you will enjoy Mouse Was Mad, Andrea, and I’m so glad you got to share a Pigeon book with your grandson. That Mo Willems.

    Congrats on the end of the school year, too. Maybe when you’re missing the kids’ energy, you can go grab that grandson. That’s really lousy about teachers getting laid off and a lack of funding for you, too, in your library. I hope you feel renewed and energized at the end of the summer…

    and I hope you come kickin’ again! You made my day!

  18. Perhaps logic would say that after 35 years I am retiring. I am NOT. In the state of WA under the retirement plan I have I will teach at least until 62 unless I win the lottery. My grandmother subbed until 85.

  19. HEY YOU GUYS! I’m here! I’m sorry I’m so late, and have shamefully missed TWO KICKS POSTS in a row. But I had good reasons, to wit:

    1* Last weekend my mom and sister came for a visit. We had a total blast, and even though their flight out of Ithaca was cancelled and they ended up staying an extra night, I think overall it was a fabulous time.

    2* This weekend I went to see the latest play my husband designed, “Freud’s Last Session.” It’s an imagined conversation between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis in London on the eve of WWII. I’m a big nerd, so I found it fascinating. And of course the set design was amazing.

    But enough about me…

    Jules, you sweetie. That’s a very thoughtful gift for your friend. I hope she invites you over to hang on her deck all summer long. And speaking of movies that make you cry, what did you think of Children of Men? I completely went to pieces at that scene towards the end where all the fighting stopped because of the crying. Also, I’m so sorry about this wretched anniversary, and as always so impressed and awed by your grace in handling grief.

    Rasco, thanks for visiting. I also like your moniker, because it makes me think of NIMH.

    jone, I just got my ARC of Silksinger last week and I can’t wait to start it. Congrats on all those milestones! 35 years? That’s an incredible accomplishment.

    jama, thanks for thinking of me, even if it is because of yucky cilantro. 😉 YES, The Gardener is great! But so is every Sarah Stewart book – I think my fave is The Journey. And I think you need to convince your mother to talk and then write her story. I’d read it.

    emmaco, having grown up in the states, I share your awe at being able to just hop a train to so many different countries. PARIS!!! Color me jealous. And I have got to get my hands on some of this magical wet garlic.

    adrienne, again with the cilantro. Why can’t people think of me when they see, oh, a lovely bar of dark chocolate or something? Anyway, I think drying your own fruit can only lead to goodness. Imagine the baked goods you can make with dried strawberries!

    jen, “Facebook vanity URL gold rush” made me laugh out loud. I still haven’t claimed “EishaPrather” – I hope it’s not already taken. And now, thanks to you, I feel I really need a tranquility room. And a vacation to Hawai’i. Like NOW. Glad you had such a lovely time, and looked lovely in the pics.

    Little Willow, MERCY but that 24-hour festival sounds like crazy fun. And I’d never heard of “Ball of Fire” – until I looked it up I thought you meant that Jerry Lee Lewis biopic from the ’80s with Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder, and I was all “Okaaay… THAT’S one of your favorite movies? Really?”

    Andrea, welcome to the fold. Thanks so much for finally kicking with us! I’m so sorry about your losses, and so glad that it sounds like you’re coming through the worst of it. I’m also glad you have a 5-year-old grandson who loves the Pigeon. I agree with Jules – just grab that boy when you’re feeling low. And of course please come back next Sunday!

  20. Jone, 85?? I hope she wanted to sub that long.

    Eisha, kickin’ things like your mama and sister visiting and a really great play must always trump something online, so don’t apologize. And I thought Children of Men was very, very good.

    My husband and I just watched a movie called Primer. He thought I added it to the Netflix queue, and I thought he did. Someone here MUST have recommended it, ’cause I don’t remember even adding it. But evidently I did. Maybe Sara recommended it, ’cause it was all physics-y.

    And I was MOSTLY LOST the entire time. My. brain. hurts.

  21. Thanks to all for the warm welcome!

    Little Willow, sorry I just called you Willow here, I knew something didn’t seem quite right. I’ve heard of those 24-hour festivals and thought how fun that must be for creative types!

    Jone, sorry I misunderstood and thot you were retiring. I’m glad your not for the kids sake–and still sounds like you really enjoy it! Some of my fave subs who come in with classes in the library are the retired teachers who know all the tricks, still enjoy the kids. I learn from them.

    Hope no artists thot I was dissing black and white books! Some books could only be black and white, Ferdinand being a most perfect book for example.

    Dehydrated apples are something we enjoyed when we had a dehydrator–soft or crisp. Yummmmm!

  22. Great to read the kicks this week. I wasn’t feeling great this weekend and ended up having to finish up some work tonight…but indulged in some procrastination to enjoy everyone’s kicks.

  23. Wow, wonderful kicks.

    My seven:

    1. I am in Scotland, where the weather has been wobbling between rain and rainbows. As one friend says, “It changes on your backswing.”

    2. I am writing a bunch, revising a bunch. Always a kick to me.

    3. Went to a physiotherapist who said my back problems were ones he sees every day and that was oddly comforting.

    4. Went to a wonderful garden party. The rain had ceased an hour earlier after all-day downpours, so the Scots moved the party into the soggy but still gorgeous garden. Even my neighbor who had had a hysterectomy six days earlier was there, standing much of the time till her husband and I insisted she sit down. The Scots they are a hardy race! (Well, actually, she is Danish.)

    5. Got a first printed dummy of my board book GOOD NIGHT LITTLE BUNNY, a comfy book, not trying to be Art,
    (I love all the processes of book making and will be sad if I am still around when books go entirely digital.)

    6. Was sent more astonishgly beautiful art work (by email) by Rebcca Guay, the illustrator for my graphic novel, THE LAST DRAGON due out fall 2010.

    7. I have been watching bunnies in my Scottish garden. And listening to the dawn chorus every day of the birds
    at 4:30-7 every morning. There’s a marvelous early world out there for all you late risers to discover. Get up and kick out.

    Your kicking buddy, Jane

  24. Andrea, thanks so much for letting us know how much you’ve been enjoying the kicks. It’s nice to think of many people are cheered up once a week by this feature. Jules and Eisha, you’re obviously geniuses for thinking of such a thing and bringing everyone together.

    I’m glad you had a good family visit, Eisha. My mum is coming to visit in September so fingers crossed the spare room/study cupboard stays neat enough that there is room for her to hang a coat up!

    Jane, the changeable weather is what drives me most batty about Britain. I like to know what will be appropriate clothing for the weather weeks in advance!

    Jules, I somehow missed that it was your brother’s anniversary coming up. I miss my sisters even though I speak to them most weeks so can only imagine your sadness. I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

  25. I’m a day late again!

    I’m a big fan of Henry Cole’s picture book art. Some of my Cole favorites: SANTA’S STUCK, CITY CHICKEN, and SOME SMUG SLUG.


    1. Yesterday, my sister had a small get-together–my mother, my only living aunt, and three of our cousins. We all brought food and sat and chatted around the dining room table for hours. It was wonderful!

    2. I had dealt with a chronic physical problem for many, many years that caused me to feel uncomfortable much of the time. After a few acupuncture treatments and an herbal remedy, I feel so much better!!! I wish I had gone to an acupuncturist years ago.

  26. Andrea and Adrienne, I have to say I was not familiar with a food dehyrator as a kitchen tool, but now I am.

    Jeremy, sorry you were feeling blah and had work. Hope this week is better.

    Jane, glad your back problems aren’t really serious. And what great kicks, all-around…Some day, I hope to be the type of person who can get up at, say, 4:30.

    Thanks, Emmaco, you sweetheart you.

    Elaine, yeah, I think Erica’s right when she called Henry Cole a national treasure.

    That is great news about the acupuncture! So glad you’re feeling so tip-top (say “tip-top” in your best British accent, just for fun).

  27. I haven’t been on here for a while, so I am pleased to see everyone is doing well. I only have a few moments to post my kicks today because:
    1 – I am finally in London!!!! I am bloody exhausted because the kids didn’t sleep well last night in a strange house, but I am happy to be exhausted in my childhood home.
    2 – Seeing my brother for the first time in 4 years. I unexpectedly burst into tears at seeing him, probably because he has had a rough time of it lately and I couldn’t be there for him, but it was wonderful to see how well he is doing.
    3 – Meeting my brother’s girlfriend for the first time. They are a great match.
    4 – Seeing what beautiful adults my nieces and nephew are becoming. Tall, gorgeous, funny and most brilliant of all- they are not embarrassed to hang out with their parents.
    5 – The flight was went very well, and the kids did great, thus I was able to avoid the feeling of dozen’s of disapproving eyes staring at me.
    6 – I will soon be able to gorge myself on Cadbury’s chocolate and numerous cakes and goodies. Thank goodness I will be able to walk it all off on. . .
    7 – Sidewalks!!!! I love being in a place where you can walk everywhere and use public transportation. And people do walk – I think my little town in Tennessee might actually be deserted because you never see anybody. I was almost overwhelmed by all the hustle and bustle earlier today.

    Well, I hope my rambling makes sense and that there are limited typos. My lack of sleep and jet lag is starting to catch up with me.

  28. Zoe, so happy you get to see family. AND experience actual sidewalks. You’re not gonna want to come home!

  29. Welcome back to the UK, Zoe! The weather has turned nice to welcome you home!

  30. Oh, Jules, I think I might have mentioned Primer. At least, I’ve seen it. It’s not a perfect film, but for a first-time filmmaker, I thought it was impressive. And yeah, it turned my brain inside-out. Did Blaine like it? I should get him to explain it to me.

    Jeremy, I fully support your procrastination efforts. Godspeed.

    jane, that garden party does indeed sound lovely. Here’s an idea – why don’t you write a book about that marvelous early world for all us late-risers who will never, no, NEVER be able to enjoy ANYTHING that happens at 4:30 a.m. even if we manage to get up that early. That way we can at least enjoy it vicariously.

    emmaco, good luck with the visit, and with keeping things tidy. We don’t have any rellies visiting until September, and I’m scared we’ll backslide.

    Elaine, what a perfect-sounding visit with your family. And OMG you are so brave, trying acupuncture. I’m so glad it helped!

    Aw, Zoe, that’s so sweet about finally seeing your brother again. I’m glad you’re having such a great visit home. Have some Cadbury’s for me!

  31. eisha, how. funny. i’m glad to at least know the mystery is solved. i thought he added it to the queue. he thought i did. right before the opening credits ran, he’s all, what is this movie ABOUT anyway?, and i was all, i dunno. you added it, right?

    blaine can, indeed, sorta explain it, ’cause he tried for me. right after i said, about two minutes after the movie ended, that i couldn’t even remember how it ended. since my brain felt that wobbly.

  32. Oh, butt these are fun books! I’m totally mad about them.

  33. Tammi, why didn’t *I* think of that for the intro? Perfect.

  34. Andrea: Pleasure to meet you. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad that you found sparks and smiles here, and that you are now sharing your kicks with us! Welcome. 🙂

  35. […] sway exerted by the illustrations, the first official Heinies event was a little soiree for me and Chicken Butt! author, Erica Perl, thrown by children’s reading specialist Joan Kindig. Two of her […]

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