7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #135: Featuring Sandy Nichols
and Mark Karlins

h1 October 4th, 2009 by jules

“The audience cheered. Never before had there been such a performance!”
(Click to enlarge.)

Jules: Meet the Fabulous Fortunatos, who sing, dance, play the banjo, tell jokes, and juggle brilliantly. With them is their son, Lorenzo, who often felt like he had been born into the wrong family. He pondered important matters in his crib, drew pictures of the planets on the walls as a toddler, and generally kept his head in the clouds. Instead of, you know, somersaulting and walking on tightropes like the rest of his family.

They’re celebrating in the spread above with none other than Albert Einstein, a fan of the family’s performance acts, who has also just helped Lorenzo, by means of a galaxy-hopping trip to outer space, see that he fits into his family better than he thinks. Oh, and there are some creatures from outer space up there, too, including floating cats, but I can’t give away everything now, can I? Especially if you want to see the book for yourself, Starring Lorenzo and Einstein Too (Dial Books, April 2009) by Mark Karlins and Sandy Nichols.

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month when I feature the art of student or first-time illustrators, Sandy, who studied illustration at the Alberta College of Art and Design and who lives in Calgary with her family, is here to show us some spreads from this, her debut picture book title. The author, Mark Karlins, is here as well. Let’s get right to it, and I thank them for stopping by and saying a few words before we get to our kicks. Mark, who also teaches writing and film at Tufts (and who owns a haunted barn — and why why why didn’t I ask him to elaborate on that?), starts us off by addressing how Einstein, a performing family, and a science-minded kid who doesn’t fit in made their way into his book:

* * * * * * *

Mark: When I write, I never plan where my stories will go. I usually begin with an image, a phrase, a certain sentence rhythm that will carry me forward. For Starring Lorenzo, it was a youngster who was an outsider that captured my attention. The notion of outsiders, particularly of creative people (both young and old) who don’t quite fit in, is fascinating. They—the artists—are the ones who, hopefully, explore themselves and keep the society moving forward. It is also the outsider, Lorenzo, who feels pain and conflict from his situation. No matter what he does, no matter how he approaches a situation or problem, it doesn’t seem right. And then in steps Einstein, everyone’s favorite long-haired genius, who encourages Lorenzo to find his own way…the two fly off into outer space in a rocketship Lorenzo has made on his Brooklyn roof. Lorenzo follows his own path, but he also needs someone to encourage him. It is those two things that I find important, both the following of one’s path and the encouragement from someone else or from a small community. Not even our little genius, Lorenzo, could have done it all on his own.

“Even before he was born, Lorenzo Fortunato was a very serious baby. Moving inside his mother’s belly, he would close his eyes and dream that he was
flying toward the moon.”

When I think of other picture books I have written, I see that some of the same themes and places recur. I keep being drawn back to the same place. With the exception of my first book, all of my books take place in NYC (Music Over Manhattan, Salmon Moon, Mendel’s Ladder, for example). More often than not, they take place in Brooklyn, just across the river from the more glamorous Manhattan. To see the Brooklyn Bridge or Manhattan Bridge stretching across the water fills one with longing. Yet Brooklyn, for me, at the same time has a grittier reality to it. I easily return to NY in my stories. I no longer live there, but having been raised there, it is the place I most naturally turn when working on a picture book.

Although I am beginning to place a few of my newer stories outside of NYC, I do think that NYC is one of the things that distinguishes my books from some others. In fact, when I had that wonderful moment, years back, of having Music Over Manhattan praised on NPR by Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon, one of the things Scott Simon said was that it was refreshing to read a picture book that takes place in a city rather than in the suburbs or in the country. Now, when I think of most picture books, I can see that what he was saying was true. Of course, there are plenty of books that take place in cities, but certainly they are in the minority. There are probably marketing decisions in the publishing houses behind this, but I think it probably also has something to do with our notions of the child and of the city, of the child as pure, innocent, etc. and the city as a place of corruption. The country (with the suburbs as a bit of a stand-in for the country) is perceived as a place of purity. It is all very much an old pastoral notion. Of course, the idea of the pastoral always comes from city folks. Farmers mucking around in the barn and doing back-breaking work don’t have the same sense of the country. No happy, poetry-writing shepherds and dancing fawns for them.

“His father tried to teach him how to walk on a tightrope. But while he was practicing, Lorenzo wrote numbers on his hand and nearly fell off.”

I see Sendak and Steig as my biggest influences, and I keep going back to them. But there is a wide range of picture books that I turn to. I truly love picture books. In adult literature, I also read widely, but I have a particular affinity for some of the magic realists from Latin America. My picture books, in fact, might be seen as magic realism for children. There are also a great many painters whom I like, and I do enjoy spending time wandering around museums. A number of years ago, in fact, I was in Paris and saw a remarkable exhibit of Chagall’s work. I had not looked at him for years and was surprised by the depth of his work. As for my own work, I have never intentionally used Chagall as a source, but my work has been compared to his, and I suppose there is some similarity. (Since I don’t illustrate, I am, of course, talking about my subject matter and approach.) Like Chagall, I can’t always keep my characters from taking to the air. They are always flying about and leaving solid ground. It seems to be a question of gravity.

“None of the other things he tried worked out very well either. The twins laughed and chanted: ‘Lorenzo the Schmenzo! A boy who can’t juggle, or even spin. You funny thing, you don’t fit in. What a mystery, what a fuss. It’s hard to believe
you’re one of US!'”

All of my books have been dedicated to family members. It is family that is central to me, and there has been nothing more important in my life than my children. Now that my children are grown, I have not nearly as much contact with small children as I would like. Fortunately, I do periodically visit schools here in New England, where I now live. I do my Lorenzo and science presentation, and it’s really fun for everyone, including me. Through those visits I get to see and interact with my audience. They always, in one way or another, surprise.

“He looked at the formula on Lorenzo’s hand. He read the bottom of Lorenzo’s sneaker. ‘Ah,’ he said, raising his bushy eyebrows. ‘Most interesting.’ ‘You can tell what I’m working on?’ Lorenzo asked. ‘They don’t call me a genius for nothing,’
Einstein replied. ‘Can I see it?'”

Sandy: When I was first contacted by Penguin to illustrate Starring Lorenzo, I was absolutely thrilled and terrified. This would be my first children’s book (something that I’ve been wanting to do for some time). It had to be stellar! I have been doing illustrations for magazines for many years and wanted to try something different….

“They zipped from one galaxy to another. There was a planet where everything floated—chairs, cats, a herd of tiny blue hippos.”

“Einstein gave Lorenzo a pat on the back. ‘Everybody needs a family,’ Einstein said. ‘I know they miss you.’ ‘Do you really think so?’ Lorenzo gulped.
‘Yes,’ Einstein said. ‘I’m sure of it.'”

After reading the manuscript a number of times, I started the thumbnail sketches. They seemed to flow rather easily and quickly, much to my relief. I do think this had a lot to do with the writing; Lorenzo was either being faced with a dilemma or an adventure, and this provided fertile ground for pictures. I love to show expression as well, and there was also plenty of opportunity for this in the story…. I found a rhythm, as I neared the halfway-point of finishing the illustrations. I became more confident and reeeally began to enjoy painting them. I particularly enjoyed doing the tiny blue hippos and the twin sisters. Trying to decide what color their clothing was often the most challenging, of all things. (Do I do stripes here — or solid? Collar or v-neck? Etc.)

While I was doing a presentation/reading at a school recently, a teacher asked me if I miss Lorenzo, now that (my role in) making the book is over. I do feel like I know the little guy. I hope he is doing well and continuing in his love of physics and outer space! At the moment, I am not working on a book — but am planning on doing more.

“Up above, the glittering stars moved in closer as though to watch.
And sure enough, they were singing.”

Thanks again to Mark and Sandy for stopping by, and best of luck to them both — particularly Sandy, since this was her debut title.

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is 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.

* * * * * * *

STARRING LORENZO AND EINSTEIN TOO. Text copyright © 2009 by Mark Karlins. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Sandy Nichols. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, NY. Images reproduced by permission of the illustrator.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

Happy Fall, y’all! Here are my kicky kicks:

1). Hangin’ out with my almost-four-year-old, especially in this lovely, cool autumn weather, since she opted to stop going to her little Parents’ Day Out program two days a week and hang out with me instead.

2). Fall Break at my kindergartener’s school is this week, so she gets to hang out here all day every day — just like old times.

It must HURT to be as talented as she is.3). All kinds of new music (and other surprises) from the one and only Sam Phillips, pictured here — and a promise of even more to come this year (five EPs and a full-length album, YOU GUYS!). It’s a new paradigm for releasing music: All through subscribing at her site. No record company involved. I love this. I hope it works for her, too. (Special thanks to Jill for helping me get into the subscription site via phone one day this week during one of my not-so-bright moments in life. Let’s just say that sometimes all you gotta do is simply scroll. down.)

3½). While I’m talking about music: Exploring Elbow’s older music.

4). Research for some writing I’m doing, especially when that research involves Sendak and Edward Gorey. (This research is also why I’m behind on reading your blog. Or answering your email. Yes, I’m talking to you.)

5). Now this was just really, really fabulous to see. Having 7-Imp listed on the site for the new Exquisite Corpse (a project in which Jon Scieszka and seventeen other children’s-book creators will contribute to an ongoing illustrated tale that will unfurl online over the course of a year, one episode every two weeks) was profoundly kickin’ to see. 7-Imp is listed—along with Jen Robinson’s site, Roger Sutton’s site, A Fuse #8 Production, and a few others—as a blog that “inspires.” Since this is a project of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and the Library of Congress and since 7-Imp’s in such good company, it’s flattering and wonderful and I thank whoever might have listed it there.

6). Going to Cheekwood, one of the best things about Nashville, this weekend and seeing their scarecrow exhibit. Here were my two favorite pieces:

7!). Last, but far from least: Tarie and her family are okay. (Tarie, if you check the comments of last week’s kicks-post, you’ll see that we’ve all been worried about you. So glad you’re okay!)

NOTE: Remember that the nominations for the Cybils 2009 are open. Go here to nominate your favorite titles.

What are YOUR kicks this week, everyone?

29 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #135: Featuring Sandy Nichols
and Mark Karlins”

  1. So glad that Tarie and her family are okay. So, so glad. I’m going to be sending them positive vibes indefinitely.

    If you guessed that the words “sing, dance, play the banjo, “Einstein,” and “floating cats” caught my eye, you’re right! Nice to meet you, Mark and Sandy. Here’s to defying gravity, embracing natural talents, and encouraging intelligence.

    Jules: Have fun hanging out with your favorite munchkins! That goblin scarecrow seems to have leapt out of a Tony DiTerlizzi book, doesn’t he?

    My kicks for the past week, in chronological order:
    1) Shooting a scene in a film. It was a nice little scene with only moi and the main character.
    2) Opening the Thomas Randall website http://www.thomasrandall.net and launching the blog tour. I hope you all check out the book, The Waking: Dreams of the Dead, especially those of you who like any combintation of the following: thrillers, mysteries, stranger in a strange land stories, mythology, stories set in Japan, page-turners.
    3) Auditioning for one thing, registration for another, and then having time to spare between and after!
    4) Bast, surprisingly. Other welcome surprises: another care package and Enchanted.
    5) Filming an episode of a new television show!This show is based on true crimes. Knowing we were recreating a real tragedy was not lost on any of us. I believe the series will debut in 2010. I’ll let you know when the episode airs.
    6) The readergirlz chat we held with Janet Lee Carey, which had unexpected visitors: flying penguins.
    7) Another weekend of performances for play #1. We close next weekend. 🙁

  2. Typo in kick 2: Combination. Lo siento.

  3. Mark and Sandy, I quite like the message of Starring Lorenzo and Einstein Too!

    Jules and Little Willow and all kickers, THANK YOU.

    We are still cleaning, salvaging, recovering, and rebuilding here in Manila because of Typhoon Ketsana. Then Typhoon Parma hit, and hit hard yesterday. The weather forecast says to watch out for Typhoon Melor on Monday. Yes, a third typhoon. The Philippines seems to be stuck in a really bad apocalypse movie. Plus, my Asian neighbors, such as Indonesia, have been hit hard by other natural disasters. So I wasn’t going to stop by because I wasn’t feeling very kick-y, y’know? But yes, I am safe and my family and friends are safe! And a voice inside me said, “7-Imp always makes you smile. Kidlit always makes you smile. Don’t you need to read the kicks now more than ever???”

    So here I am and I am touched. You guys are so sweet.


    1. All my loved ones being safe. So we lost computers and cars and refrigerators and other stuff in the floods. It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. People cannot.

    (Okay, officially holding back tears now.)

    2. All the amazing people in the kidlitosphere (like the kickers here!) who have been checking up on me and sending their love through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, email, etc. Thank you all again. This is the BEST blogging community. HANDS DOWN.

    3. October is Filipino American Heritage Month. :o)

    4. The latest edition of PaperTigers is a spotlight on children’s and YA books from/about the Philippines! I had the privilege of contributing three interviews and one review to the edition. Check it all out at http://papertigers.org!

    5. I’m a second round judge in the SFF category of this year’s Cybils! I’m sooo excited.

    P.S. Little Willow, oooh, I want to read The Waking: Dreams of the Dead. You had me at “stories set in Japan.”

    And that goblin scarecrow does look like something from a Tony DiTerlizzi book!

  4. I’m digging Einstein in a space suit.

    LW, I can’t wait to Tivo you in 2010. True crime scares me, but for you, I’ll watch. What about the film? Any idea on its release? That’s soooo exciting.

    Here’s a kick: Did you know that the evening at the White House honoring Stevie Wonder with the Gershwin Prize is online? The whole amazing concert! http://www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse/

    Now if only I could find the 2007 Gershwin prize concert for Paul Simon. I watched it on TV, but I was sure there would be some permanent recording of it to buy. Nope.

    More kicks:

    book club today, discussing Marcelo in the Real World;

    these adorable pictures of Jim Di Bartolo reading to his baby: http://growwings.blogspot.com/2009/10/theres-new-book-lover-in-world.html

    and seeing Operation Yes on the cover of the Scholastic Book Club flyer. I can’t tell you how much I’d like to go back in time and whisper that astounding future fact to my 6th grade book nerd self.

  5. And Tarie? You posted while I was posting. I’m SO GLAD to hear from you! You’re right about kicks being needed now more than ever.

  6. Little Willow! I’m with Sara: Let us know when the film is released, and congrats on the television show. Woot! You amaze me. And Thomas’ book sounds good. Thanks for the heads-up. (Good-lookin’ site, too.)

    Tarie, it’s very wonderful to see you here. Thanks for checking in and for always doing thing like status updates and blog posts (there’s dedication for you) so that we knew you were okay. I’d have to say I agree that it sounds like you’re stuck in an apocalypse movie. I mean, Mother Nature needs to cut you all a BREAK already. …Congrats on the Paper Tigers writing. I look forward to reading it.

    Sara, MIND-READER! Thank you for the Stevie Wonder link! John and I were talking this week about Stevie Wonder. (So, okay. We were talking about my long-time geek-dom over Saturday Night Live, and he sent me this list of this guy’s Best Skits Ever, which included the Stevie Wonder skit where Eddie Murphy is imitating him and instructing Stevie himself, of all things, in the ways of Being Him. And then, at the end, Stevie Wonder belts out part of a song, wows everyone, and then Eddie Murphy says sometjing like, “nah, that sucked.” Here is the end on YouTube, but John made me want to find the entire skit, and I can’t. (I might try Netflix to see what kind of SNL DVDs they have.) He also really made me want to get some more Stevie Wonder CDs.

    And, man, do I wish I could be at your book club today! Marcelo was supposed to be one of my kicks today, and I forgot. I’m reading it now and LOVE. IT.

    Did you know Jim Di Bartolo will be here in November, showing me lots of his great art, which I love? Those pictures are fabulous, particularly since Clementine Pie is totally smiling at those books.

  7. Oh Lorenzo is so sweet…What a fabulous book! Loved the Einstein illustration.
    Jules, have fun with your daughter. That scarecrow is a delight.
    LW, same here, can’t wait to DVR you on tv.
    Tarie, so glad you are safe.
    Sara, Your book did well in sales at the book fair at my school
    My kicks:
    The CYBILS and seeing all the nominees for NFPK.
    This Thursday I head to NJ to see my aunt, surprise her by bringing her 28 yr old great niece, and then seeing our three generation photo show.
    Internet might be sketchy so might not get to post until the following week.
    Got a granddaughter fix yesterday. Read to her in her bedroom and when I put the book away she said, “Grandma, that is not the right place” as she in the correct place on her book shelf…why didn’t have my camera to photo her with an oversized Batman mask on? Hilarious, she wore as I read the story.
    Getting other granddaughter fixes on Tuesday before I leave.

  8. http://www.arte.tv/royaldeluxe/

    My absolute kicky kick…seeing the giant marionettes here in Berlin! I am in love with the little giantess forever!

  9. Thanks for waking up my Sunday with lovely artwork and good news: Tarie, how sweet you are to check in, and Sara, so glad your book is rocking Scholastic, and LW performing ever onward. Jules, more kids at home and researching Sendak and Gorey sounds like a good life. Of course now you have ever more reasons to tour Mass. I haven’t been to the Gorey museum http://www.edwardgoreyhouse.org/ yet, but my sister and her kids liked it almost as much as the Cape Cod beaches. A fat cat prowls about. I can’t remember just when — maybe spring? but Adrienne blogged about it http://www.watat.com/

    Right now the kicks are mostly about apples, pumpkins, and sunflowers at the farm stands. I’m also with jone that the Cybils are fun, even if they kind of strain my date-deficit brain about what was published when. I guess it’s good exercise for it.

  10. Love those illustrations. They remind me of the look of certain TV commercials from the ’50s-early ’60s. But I can’t remember which ones, specifically. (I just returned, the pupils of my eyes shaped like little whirling spirals, from a one-hour diversion of viewing old commercials on YouTube etc. Empty-handed, alas.) Anyway, they’re great!

    When you read or hear about what other planets and their inhabitants must be like, it’s always about, like, number of legs and eyes, what the air is made of, what they eat, how many suns and moons there are. If you read about a planet with low gravity, the only creatures who actually think it’s low are the ones from elsewhere — other planets. The natives all stick to the surface, unless actively working by flapping wings etc.

    All of which is a lead-in to say: I *love* the idea of a planet populated by Earth-like creatures which float!

    Jules, how nice to get to be the Three Girls again, (even if it’s just for a week).

    I have a feeling you’re going to be in orbit about the Sam P project all through the next 12 months. (Which is a kick in advance then for those of us who love to see great people with all their enthusiasms on full display.)

    That “scare”crow is about as un-scary as I can imagine. He looks like he’s saying, Hey crows — wanna come in? We got free food here! Like others have said, though, the second one — the monster — probably has a pretty much crow-free neighborhood.

    Little Willow: What’s “Bast”? You mean the cat-god(dess) thing? And if you meant Enchanted-the-movie, The Missus and I really liked it too. (We’re an easy audience.)

    Also: counting on you to keep us posted on the TV series!

    Tarie, so glad you and your family are safe, and so sorry that you’re apparently not yet done with Mother Nature for this season. I’ve never been anywhere near the South Pacific, so it’s surprising how much next-door it feels to have been following the news of the last 7-10 days.

    Sara: Jules got there first about the Stevie Wonder coincidence, darn.

    The photos of Jim Di Bartolo and Clementine Pie do make me wish I’d had a chance to try fathering as well as uncleing. Next life, right?

    Jules (again): just found the transcript of that SW/EM skit. Pretty good punchline, which I hadn’t known before. But, alas, it’s probably still not as good as the still-missing video! (According to this review, the clip is on a DVD called Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy.)

    Kicks, let’s see…

    * Before ET, before Jaws, even before Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg did a kickin’ made-for-TV movie called Duel (early ’70s). We’d seen it before, but just re-watched it the other night. (Thank you again, Netflix!) The premise sounds kinda lame — a truck chases a guy, okaaaay… — but it really is a great cinematic thriller. No wonder Hollywood sat up and took notice.

    * Finished one chapter, started another in the work-in-progress. Also for the first time in months assembled all stuff I’ve done so far into a single “master document.” ^^ (Those are raised eyebrows, signifying: Wow. I have done something in the last year, haven’t I?!?)

    * Newest Harry Potter movie at IMAX theater. This is sort of a cheating kick, because we’re doing it this afternoon. But the anticipation has been building for WEEKS. 🙂

    * The Missus challenged me yesterday to clear all horizontal surfaces (except actual shelves) in the living room of all DVDs, videotapes, and CDs. I laughed at her childish innocence. There was no freaking way… Okay, I had to cut some corners — e.g., we’re having a garage sale in a few weeks, which enabled me to set aside several boxed sets of audiotapes. And I did some ingenious things with, um, exactly how things are shelved. But we don’t have any gleaming-plastic flat media lying around in there anymore. Cool.

    * Kind of a mixed kick: We had a flat tire one day this week. But it happened on a day when The Missus — and not I — had the car at work, and it happened out in the parking lot (not while she was out and about), and a guy she works with — and not I — changed it. (Sometimes kicks come from not doing things.)

    * Had a day of, well, rage at a couple of stupid-heads at work — very unusual for me, I think. Not a kick. But I bottled it up, and capped it with a blistering email which I did not even save, let alone send. Which sucked all that bad blood out of me, like they used to do with leeches. I don’t recommend rage, and I don’t recommend getting back at the, er, enragee(s), but rage-followed-by-real-but-unvented-catharsis can be very rewarding.

    * I did a book review this week for a multi-author blog called The Book Book. Which wasn’t per se a kick (reading the book reviewed was, though). BUT the book’s author is running a cool contest through the month of October. It requires a Twitter account: you have to write a ghost story of no more than 124 characters in length. The winner(s), of course, get(s) prize(s). Details at his site.

    Bonus kick, maybe: four hyperlinks in a 7-Imp comment — and it doesn’t go straight to moderation? We’ll see! (Thanks, Jules and Blaine!)

  11. P.S. Okay, so the bonus kick didn’t work out. But I have every confidence it *might* have — ha!

  12. JOHN! Doh! Looks like our spam experiment failed. I’ll tell 7-Imp’s tech support!

    More from me in a minute…

  13. Lisa, that looks fascinating. Huge, looming things like that scare me (Rome was challenging), but I’d still go see those marionettes.

    Jeannine, once again I’ll be in Mass in early January, but — as always — I won’t have a lot of time to tour/see things. I’m hoping there’d be some way to work in seeing children’s-lit folks, but there’s never a lot of time, so I don’t know?? But, man, would I love to see Gorey’s house.

    Also: Apples, pumpkins, and sunflowers are good things.

    John, well, I try to keep my Sam-raving to a minimum, so as to make everyone crazy(er), but YOU SHOULD HEAR THE BEAUTIFUL SONG SHE WROTE FOR HER DAUGHTER!

    Okay, that’s the raving for today done. Complete.

    One thing I love about you as a blog-reader and, well, person is that you take hours looking up stuff you read about online, like looking for early commercials after seeing these illustrations. Oh, and now I’m gonna get that DVD. I figured it’d be on something like that.

    Congrats on that master document! And I laughed at your cleaning-up kick, ’cause we have that problem around here, too. Also with stacks of books that end up sitting around and need to get re-shelved.

    In a weird way, I liked reading about your rage, ’cause you’re so dang nice. I know you’re a human with an angry side, too, but this will make me feel better the next time *I* rage. Like, “well, John does it, too, so it’s okay.” I also liked your phrase “stupid-head.”

    Will report our failed spam experiment to Blaine and see what he says.

  14. Jone, how did my comment to you get skipped?

    Congrats on the granddaughter-time, and have fun visiting your aunt!

  15. Tarie, poor SE Asia! I have been following the news with dismay all week. I am glad you and your family are still all OK.

    Jules I love the scarecrows, especially the second one! Very scary!

    JES I had exactly the same rage at work/cranky-email-that-I-didn’t-save-let-alone-send experience this week too! It (and a long walk and a good vent to my poor office mates) meant that when I bumped into one of the rage-inducers in the corridor I could nod and say hello as normal and not mutter and grimace.

    We’ve been having a nice time with mum, and she’s now enjoying Paris (and has only rung me once lost on the metro). We’re looking forward to our holiday together later this week. Eisha, if you’re reading I hope your visit continues successfully (and you don’t lose your relatives on any mass transit)!

    Besides that the other kick that springs to mind is that I just sewed two buttons onto my winter coat, which is a chore I have been procrastinating about for ages.

    Oh, and through the power of the internet and my mum’s large family I found out the town in Ireland her family were from looooong ago (which means they’re bately related, but hey) and it’s less than half an hour from where we’re staying one night! So we can go take photos for Nan.

  16. Love the pictures, especially Einstein. And Jules, I love that scarecrow with the sun face! Also very glad to hear that Tarie and her family are ok. Tarie, I’m glad that you came by today. Little Willow, it’s so great to be able to watch your career progress from weekly kick to weekly kick. Definitely keep us posted on when there’s anything we can watch. Jone, I’m glad you’re enjoying your grandma time. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own Grandma this week, after reading Love, Aubrey. Anyway, on to kicks:

    1. The Cybils nominations. So many great titles already on the lists. And many kudos to Sheila Ruth for designing a nomination form that’s making everyone’s lives easier.
    2. Like Jules and Eisha, I was thrilled to see my blog listed as a “Blog that Inspires” on the Exquisite Corpse Adventure site. Ditto to everything that Jules said about it (flattering and wonderful, and amazing to be in such great company).
    3. Despite a painful losing streak, the Red Sox finally clinched a spot in the playoffs, and wrapped up the season on an up note.
    4. I second Sara’s kick (it was already on my draft list), about Laini Taylor’s photos of Jim reading to baby Clementine. So beautiful!
    5. M and I went to a fun Octoberfest celebration yesterday, at a brew pub that we frequent. And we’ve had cool fall weather here in CA for the past few days, which suits the New Englander in me.
    6. I’m a bit late celebrating this here, but it’s been great to welcome Terry Doherty and Susan Thomsen as contributors to Booklights.
    7. KidLitCon is in less than 2 weeks!

    Happy Sunday, all!

  17. Tarie, so glad to hear you and your family are well.

    I was not here last week, because I was breathing in every last minute of my poetry weekend with Rebecca Dotlich, Alice Schertle and Susan Pearson. (We won’t talk about getting stuck in Philly and my terrible track record with flying these days.)

    So, my kicks include my:
    1. Last week’s Poetry workshop at the Highlights Foundation. I learned a lot, ate great food, and swam in poetry.
    2. The Cybils! I am on the panel for poetry this year. I’m happy to be trying something new, but I’m really missing nonfiction picture books already, and am sad I’m not working with Jone again this year.
    3. William and I are back to reading HP3. We took a long hiatus because he was a bit nervous about the dementors. We’re back on track and he’s loving it. This is probably my favorite book of the 7, so I’m having great fun reading it.
    4. I took William and my 19 year old nephew to the state fair on Friday night. What fun we had! I ate fried pickles, fried green beans, and all manner of stuff that wasn’t good for me. Thank goodness this only happens once a year!
    5. Meeting all kind of wonderful folks at the poetry workshop, including a few authors and one of my Cybils co-panelists.
    6. A lazy Saturday morning with William that began at IHOP (hurray for pancakes that I don’t have to make!) and ended in a local bookstore.
    7. Kidlitcon 09 is only two weeks away!

    Have a great week all!

  18. Tarie: I wish that, in all of our scientific and meteorological advances, we could do more to prevent natural disasters and stop these typhoons in their tracks. We Kickers would kick them to the curb if possible!

    I’m sending the PaperTigers links to friends. Enjoy the celebration all month long.

    Sara: Thank you. It was a horrible crime. My heart goes out to that family.

    Congrats on Operation Yes being on the cover of the Scholastic Book Club flyer! That’s fantastic! I love the idea of you time traveling back to tell this to your younger self.
    (Have you seen the movie Frequency?)

    Sara and Jules: The film is still shooting. I’ll let you know if/when I hear of its release.

    I am awaiting shoot details for something else, another project I’m filming this week…!

    Jules and Tarie: Thank you! I hope you pick up The Waking: Dreams of the Dead. It’s so good – and you know you need a creepy book for October! 🙂 Psst… Thomas Randall is a pseudonym for Christopher Golden.

    Jules: Go Stevie!

    Yay for Clementine Pie. How fun are those pictures?

    Jone: Thank you! Hello to Batgirl.

    lisainberlin: Oh my. How large are those marionettes?

    Jeannine: Enjoy the scenery, fruits, veggies, and flowers. Waving to the kitty on the Gorey land.

    JES: Yes, Bast the Egyptian Goddess. That was the first time I viewed Enchanted. Thumbs-up for the cleaning and re-organization.

    JES and emmaco: I hope next week is better at work for you.

    emmaco: Button, button, who’s got the button? Glad that you are enjoying your current visits and planning the next.

    Jen: Gracias. Enjoy the weather.

    Tricia: Sounds like a fun day at the fair. Enjoy the poetry.

    Everyone: Rock the Cybils & KidLitCon!

  19. Hey! The family’s been waylaid by colds and a broken down car this past week, but the car’s fixed (for the price of a really cheap iPod, ha ha) and we’re on the mend. I finished my first Nativity set, and am pretty pleased that something I wanted to do three years ago has seen fruition. I plan to do at least one more full set and a few partial sets.

    Yesterday, we went to Bonnie Becker’s reading for A Birthday for Bear, so thank you for highlighting that book for us! Becker is local. Some of the audience members recognized me from an earlier storytelling, which was a kick, too.

    We’re heading off to a wedding this week, and we’re actually going East! It’ll be our first time East in a few years. As much as I wish it could be a full visit to the East coast relatives, I’m relieved that we only have to travel to one place.

    I’m so pleased about the Nativity set that I’m going to link to the Flickr photo in a separate comment. Here goes….

    Happy week, everyone!

  20. Here’s the full Nativity set:


  21. Farida, your nativity set dolls are gorgeous!

  22. Thanks for this feature on Sandy and Mark’s book. It looks great.

    Love those scarecrows!

    My husband and I spent Saturday evening with my daughter and her fiance. Mike made his fabulous homemade pizzas. I overindulged. Sara showed me how to bowl on Wii.

    Today we had dinner with two of our best friends–one of whom is recuperating from cancer surgery. This was my first chance to spend with them since the operation. We watched the Patriots beat the Ravens together.

    That’s about it for the week. Not much excitement in this retiree’s life.

  23. Emmaco, I am with Little Willow on wishing you and John luck with the raging and the stupid-head employees. Glad you found a way to vent it. My daughter does Angry Art. Remember? That’s always another option. (I have all her Angry Art in an envelope.)

    So glad you had a good time with your mother, Emmaco!

    Jen, Octoberfest sounds like an awful lot of fun. Have safe travels to the kidlit conference!

    Tricia, seven WOOT!s for the poetry workshop. That sounds like it was a blast.

    Little Willow, another film project? Kickin’ good.

    Farida, so glad you got to meet Bonny. She’ll be visiting 7-Imp soon. Beautiful dolls, as always.

    Elaine, who says your life, as a retiree, needs to be full of excitement all the time? I think it sound rich and kick-y, indeed.

  24. Jules, the Angry Art is inspiring. Alas, I am afraid of my colleagues thinking I am a dark witch casting spells on them if they found a pile of Angry Art in my desk one day. I think deleted emails are safer

  25. Excellent point, Emmaco. But that makes for a funny scene playing out in my head!

    Why do stupid-head co-workers have to plague us anyway? I wish patience to both you and John.

  26. Jules,

    I finally had a chance to look at the review of STARRING LORENZO, AND EINSTEIN TOO. You did a wonderful job with it. I also enjoyed reading some of the comments your readers had on the piece. I suspect some of them do their own picture book writing or illustration. I wonder if any of them (of you) do anything that is city related, or if anyone out there has any suggestions for other picture books centered in cities. (This is the first time I’ve written on a blog, so I’m not sure of the rules or if there are any. Does one pose such questions?)
    By the way, I’m busy setting up school visits in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and southern Maine, so if anyone would like me (and Lorenzo, Einstein and the rest of the motley crew) to visit their school, let me know.
    Thanks again.


  27. Hi, Mark! It’s perfectly fine for you to pose such a question online in a comment; the problem is that most folks probably aren’t reading this thread anymore, since it was from last week! I could be wrong, though. Anyone around?

  28. p.s. Mark, did you see City I Love?

  29. Hi all folks,
    I’m the REAL LORENZO FORTUNATO (check out my webpage!!!) an Italian grown-up boy who happens to be a REAL SCIENTIST (check out my papers on SPIRES or Physical Review, for example)!!!!!

    This is absolutey the most intriguing coincidence I have ever found about my name: can I ask the moderator/blogger to send me Mark and Sandy’s emails? Don’t worry, I’m not going to suit them in a law court :->, just for fun and exchanging a few words!
    Lorenzo Fortunato (born ’76 in Italy, I guess my mother has the copyright!)

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