7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #137: Featuring Mélanie Watt

h1 October 18th, 2009 by jules

At the risk of sounding like Grumpy Old Man in a Series #7,000, I have to say that I pretty much loathe how children today are targeted as consumers at such very young ages. Though I limit the amount of time my children sit in front of the television screen, I actually don’t have a problem with storytelling (done well and in moderation) via the medium of television or DVD; it’s the commercials that I DO NOT want them to see. My husband taught our girls to say, at very young ages, “commercials are for suckers.” This would be why I’m happy to share some illustrations today from Mélanie Watt’s newest picture book, Have I Got a Book for You!, in which Mr. Al Foxword, one very insistent salesman, tries just about everything to get you to buy his book already.

As you fans of Scaredy Squirrel—children’s literature’s most endearing panic-stricken protagonist—know, Mélanie, a Canadian author/illustrator, doesn’t always bring us the most traditional narrative structures. Scaredy always has his charts and diagrams and lists and schedules and Other Things of the Left-Brained Nature. No “once upon a time”s for him. But Watt still manages to make the stories kid-appealing. Mr. Al Foxword doesn’t have Scaredy’s organizational skills, but Watt employs her usual techniques to tell the tale. She breaks the text up via Al’s demonstrations (“Al’s satisfied customers”), lists (what to do with “not 1, but 2 of {his} awesome books”), and well…even more lists (the “boring books” you should say goodbye to so that you can buy his book) — all rendered via charcoal pencil (and assembled digitally).

(Click to enlarge.)

In other words, there isn’t much more here than Al trying everything he can to get you to buy what he’s selling, but what an entertaining way to show children what a “commercial” is and to enlighten them in the persistent ways of a salesperson trying to convince them to do something and their motivations behind it — and it’s a MUCH more fun way to learn than your parent saying, “commercials are for suckers.” (There are way more laughs generated Mélanie’s way.) In the book’s dedication, Mélanie writes that the book’s concept is a “cheesy one,” but hey…it’s fitting. Cheese, cheese, cheese. Do people like Al have anything other than that to offer?

I won’t give away the clever ending, in case you want to see it for yourself.

(Click to enlarge.)

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.

* * * * * * *

Selection from Have I Got a Book For You! by Mélanie Watt reprinted by permission of Kids Can Press Ltd., Toronto. Text copyright © 2009 Mélanie Watt. Illustrations copyright © 2009 Mélanie Watt.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

I’ve been fighting bronchitis all week. Blech. But I can surely find some kicks:

1). I know I mentioned last week that we were partying down for our youngest’s birthday. She actually turned four this week, and we partied down a bit more. I always get misty-eyed on my daughters’ birthdays, remembering the birth part of the birthday (conveniently forgetting the pain, as Mother Nature would have it), but I guess what mother doesn’t, right?

2). My friend, Rachel, drove over two hundred miles to come to Ada’s party, which was very kind. And she crashed here and we had a great time catching up again. She also gave me some of Andrew Bird’s CDs, as well as Ben Sollee’s (pictured here) ’08 CD. Ben is a classically-trained cellist, but he takes his cello and plays it like a guitar. And the CD refuses to be classified. (Is it pop? Is it jazz? Is it bluegrass? We don’t need to waste time trying to figure out genres, thanks very much, the CD seems to be saying). Other than the cello, there’s some guitar, fiddle, saxophone, banjo, a jaw harp, drums, a vibraphone, and much more on the CD. Very fun. I don’t think that Ben normally plays on top of cars, but I like that photo, nonetheless.

3). A wonderful phone conversation with a good long-distance friend this week. (Hi, Jill!)

4). Julie Larios’ original poem from Friday of this week. And it’s very kicks-like in spirit, yes?

5). This in-the-works documentary on children’s lit. I think I’ve already exhausted each video there. Thanks to Fuse for the link.

6). Jeremy has some new ice photos! You remember this, right? (And I don’t want to embarrass him, but his ice photos were accepted for an upcoming art-gallery showing, so congrats to Jeremy!)

7). I get to see some Georgia O’Keefe art today at Nashville’s art museum. For that reason, I might also be a bit scarce mid-day, but I’ll be back to read your kicks. If anyone’s kicks get snagged by spam, sorry in advance. But I’ll release the hounds when I return.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Have you seen INK Think Tank yet? It’s fabulous, you all. It is a free online database of nonfiction titles, a search engine launched by twenty-two authors and author/illustrators of nonfiction books. It’s designed for teachers, librarians, and people who homeschool; the authors linked their books to curriculum standards. It’s a great idea from the folks who have also brought us I.N.K., or Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Check it out, especially if you work directly with children and books. It’s free to register. Woot!

Oh, and congrats to Laini for her National Book Award nomination!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

41 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #137: Featuring Mélanie Watt”

  1. I always enjoy new characters from Melanie Watt. My five year old asked if I was interested in buying the “Perfect Brownie Pan” he had seen on an infomercial. I declined, but later that week made brownies and had one corner stuck. He sauntered into the kitchen and said “See, mom … if you had the Perfect Brownie Pan, you wouldn’t be having this problem.” I bet he would like Al Foxword.

  2. Happy birthday to your daughter, Jules! They add up fast, don’t they?

    Here’s a quick list before I pack and get on the road.
    1. Afternoon tea and good conversation with the fab Sara Lewis Holmes.
    2. Meeting the lovely Jama Rattigan
    3. Remembering the beauty of the Library of Congress
    4. Seeing a first edition of Blake’s Songs of Innocence
    5. Varian Johnson’s laugh – the best ever!
    6. Greg K’s presentation on social media
    7. Kidlitcon 09

    We missed all you wonderful folks of conferences past!
    Have a great week everyone.

  3. HAHAHAHA! Can I BORROW your husband, Jules?! Commercials ARE for suckers, and maybe if a big bearded man says it to my little sister she’ll believe it. I love the concept of this book, and it’s yet another one on the Christmas list, thank you.

    I have a kick: Pam thought the Kidlitcon would be a disaster, and then with her usual brilliant way got the FTC to come and speak. How awesome is she? Wish I could have been there…

  4. Ouch, Jen. Were you forced to say, “touche”? And, yeah, I think your son would like Al.

    Tricia, TEA WITH SARA? MEETING JAMA? And I assume #5 means HipWriterMama. Greg, too! Color me jealous! Sounds like it was great.

    And, yes, Tanita, I’m sure MotherReader rocked it. I would have loved to have met more folks, and I reeeeeally would have loved to hear what the FTC said.

  5. Love, love, love Melanie Watts…none of her books stay on the shelves. I certainly missed being at Kidlitcon! I knew that it would be fabulous but the two back to back weekends of traveling to the east coast would have killed me. I read the updates all day long.
    Jules, enjoy the O’Keefe exhibit! Love her.
    Tricia and Tanita, so wished I could have been there to meet and have tea!
    My kicks:
    1. Last weekend’s visit in NJ with my aunt and niece. Aunt was throughly surprised with her grown-up package for her birthday: our niece.
    2. Our photography show.
    3. Taylor’s ham sandwich.
    4. Returning home.
    5. The news about Laini and Jim’s book. I remember her sitting at our table and talking about it when it was in its infancy!
    6. Portland’s mini-kidlitcon get together today for the launch of Lisa Madigan’s book: Flash Burnout.
    7. The 70+ nominations for nonfiction!
    Have a great week.

  6. “Commercials are for suckers.” I HAVE to teach that to Lucas and Max. Being three, Max is particularly happy to parrot whatever we ask him to. (One thing he’s been doing lately is saying, “EXCUSE ME, I’m not STUPID,” which he learned from a Sesame Street movie.)

    We have a devoted Mélanie Watt following in my library, so I need to get this book.

    Jules, I hope you keep feeling better, although Georgia O’Keefe should help. I love her work. I’ve seen a couple interesting exhibits of her work here in WNY. One focused on preservation (I guess she was really into that) and another displayed photographs of the scenes she painted along with the paintings. Both just made me stare and stare.

    Tricia, Oh, I wish I could have been there!

    Tanita, That Pam is something. Women who lead Girl Scout troops know how to Get Things Done.

    My kicks:
    1. Yesterday, my BFF, her family, and I all went to the pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins. It was raining, but that meant less competition.
    2. I also baked an apple cake. Mmmm.
    3. On Friday, my co-children’s-librarian, Jason, and I spoke at a conference about our Library Club. We did well, and people were genuinely interested in and excited about the idea.
    4. After the talk, which was in Niagara Falls, NY, we went to the good Niagara Falls in Canada to watch the falls falling, which as much as I’ve done it, never stops being amazing. The mist was so thick that day that I never could see the middle of the falls, which was kind of awesome.
    5. We also did the behind the falls thing, which is another thing I never get tired of.
    6. I read the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book this week, which made me laugh just like the first three did. I got ten copies for the library, too, so we aren’t messing around.
    7. I decorated for Halloween this week. I don’t do too much, but what I put out I really love, like my homemade tomb stones and my ceramic jack-o-lantern. Fall is just a great time of year around here.

  7. Jone, glad you had a good trip. And, yes, I should have mentioned that it’s Laini’s AND Jim’s book. Jim will be here in November for one of my illustrator interviews. WOOT!

    Adrienne, thanks. I’m excited to see Georgia-art. The Frist is having this free family day with all kinds of events for kids, too, and music and marionettes. How could we miss it?

    I saw on FB that the apple cake involves a cream cheese frosting, the best kind of frosting of all. Congrats on the good conference! And pumpkin-farm’ing. We’re gonna hit our local pumpkin farm pretty soon-ish. Best time of year, indeed.

  8. Hey, folks. I’m just dropping a quick note to say: I’M NOT DEAD YET. I’m just completely swamped with work and side projects and life stuff all kind of converging on me at once. But I’m hoping to get past most of that in the next couple of days, so I can get back to kicking with you and whatnot. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who expressed concern, and HAPPY KICKING!

  9. Hello all!

    I have returned! Missed all of you regular Sunday kickers. Scaredy Squirrel is such a riot. Just look at that toothy grin. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Sorry to hear about the bronchitis, Jules. Feel better soon!

    Adrienne: Apple cake :9 ! *licks chops*

    Jen: I want the perfect brownie pan. No, I NEED it!

    Tanita: You’re right. Pam outdid herself with a faboo conference. The FTC person made us all feel so much better!

    Jone: Yay for Flash Burnout! Wish I could go to the Launch Party signing thingy today.


    1. Spending 10 days in Hawai’i with family and friends. I’m still basking in good memories and might get around to posting about some of it soon.

    2. KidLitCon09 of course!! Kudos to Pam for all her hard work.

    3. I got to meet the one and only Miss Rumphius! Besides being so smart and charming and all, Tricia is adorable! LURV her.

    4. Lunch with Candice Ransom. Another lovely, fun person to be around. I met Ellsworth in person!

    5. Laini’s NBA nomination. I’m just loving all the happy things that have been happening with her, Jim, and Clementine Pie.

    6. I second Tricia’s nods to Greg Pincus’s Social Networking talk, and Varian Johnson’s laugh.

    7. A little late, but since they happened while I was gone, I want to mention these today: Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, and Father Damien’s canonization. Proud times for Hawai’i folks.

    Time for breakfast. Have a good week, everyone! ☺

  10. Hey, have I got a comment for you?! You bet I do! But remember folks, you must ACT NOW or—

    Okay, okay. I love the mere IDEA of a book like this. Cleverly done commercials posted on YouTube and such: all right, I’m there with everybody else. But commercial spokesfoxespeople just drive me nuts.

    (During the infamous Summer of Celebrity Deaths of ’09, a guy I work with came into my office one morning, shaking his head sadly, and said, “I guess you heard Billy May died. I’m bummed. He was such a great guy!” I’m not sure which of us was more confused when I expressed sympathy and asked what department Billy had worked in.)

    Love everyone’s kicks today!

    Some kicks:

    * Hey, look: this blog post — this one right here, stop mousing around for a link. THIS one. Just a tiny little touch tells you why people keep coming back and, I bet, why authors love seeing their work featured here: that in this review of Have I Got a Book for You!, the author’s first name is spelled with an “é” — not a plain-old everyday “e.” Go ahead, look around your keyboard, I’ll wait. No freaking é there, huh? (Quebecois and other international readers, please disregard.) Nice touch, Jules.

    * Last week, I mentioned (I think) that we’re getting ready for a garage sale, the run-up to which involves emptying a bunch of shelves. This week I came across a stash of maybe 50-75 cards and letters and various sorts of inserts from family and friends back in the early to mid-1990s. A lot of those people are still in my life, of course, and re-reading their words from then drove home how important they still are to me. But even the ones who’ve moved on (in one way or another) left these little footprints, y’know? I loved seeing — visiting with — them again.

    * Speaking of commercials on YouTube, have y’all seen the VW commercials — apparently shot in Sweden, but English-language — lumped together as The Fun Theory project? As with this week’s featured book, I love the idea that such a project even exists. So far only three ideas are up at that site, but they’re great, and I hope they do more.

    * This week I got into a long blog-comment discussion with a regular visitor to my blog. I mean, the discussion lasted for days, and the comments — both of ours — were long, too. Of course it helped that we pretty much agreed with each other through the whole thing, it wasn’t contentious or anything. But at some point it suddenly hit me, like: You are corresponding at length with a British expatriate living in Beijing, and it’s taking seconds for your replies to reach each other. Some things about technology (and people, and friendship) just knock me out sometimes.

    * I still don’t know where he got it, but my brother emailed me a PDF the other day, consisting of two entire scanned pages from a high school in southern NJ, 1975-76. Particularly, these pages came from the faculty-photos section, the English department. Of course, the first reaction was Gad. Did I look like THAT?!? The second, kick-y one was Wow. I’d forgotten all about teaching with X. I remember one time when s/he… More nostalgia!

    * Overnight temperatures — FINALLY — in the 40s. It won’t last, but I’ll take it, I’ll take it.

    * We had chili last night. What a great coincidence: that not only the words “chili” and “chilly” — two entirely different etymologies*, I guess? — but also what those words stand for should complement each other so well.

    * Here for “chili”; here for “chill(y).”

  11. P.S. Speaking of 7-Imp, technology, and friends… In a comment on my blog a little bit ago — a public comment, so I assume she won’t mind if I repeat it here — Jules said:

    I meant to mention this in my kicks today, but our wireless connection went down and I had to hop in my car at 10 p.m., drive to the nearest Starbucks, and pay 4 bucks to finish the kicks post really fast on *their* connection. (And get back BEFORE SNL started, of course. Saturday night tradition.) Heh. That was a first for me.

    How great is that?!?

  12. Jama, can’t wait to hear more about your trip, and I’m glad that you had fun at the conference. I’m sooooo curious as to what the FTC person said.

    John, yes, hee. That was a first for me. And, hey, we’re gonna have our first chili of the season tonight.

    As for kick #1, thanks. I am constitutionally incapable of doing a post without the proper grammar/punctuation, etc., though I’m sure I make mistakes like crazy.

    I used to have a WHOLE bunch of old letters and once threw them out during a less-is-more phase. It PAINS me to think about it. Less *is* more, but not when it comes to old letters from friends and family, particularly ones who are no longer here.

    Thanks for the linkage. Will explore when I get back from seeing GEORGIA-ART! Whee!

  13. You have a very arty bunch of kicks today, Jules. Good luck getting over the bronchitus! Thanks for the interesting children’s lit link.

    Glad to see so many kicks for kidlitcon! See, that’s a generous spirit, I’m jealous but still happy for you all

    JES, I’ve been talking to people on the internet from around the world for my whole adult life but I still stop every now and then and think about how very cool it is. A thanks for sharing the story of Jules’ devotion to getting the kicks up!

    1. My mum had a great holiday over here and arrived safely back in Australia.
    2. We had a great time in Ireland together, lots of interesting stuff to see and beautiful areas to visit
    3. I managed to squeeze in a visit with a friend in Dublin, who kindly trekked around the town with us, bought me a coffee and lent me a book.
    4. I bought a cute red and black wooly hat with a flower on the side
    5. Another new experience – I picked up sweet chestnuts freshly blown off trees on my way to work on Friday and we ate them roasted with dinner last night. They were sweet and nutty, nicer than roasted ones off the street (though they are good too).
    6. The landscape is lovely in autumn, now that there’s less leaves around it’s easier to spot wildlife like the cute muntjac.
    7. We found a cool new farmshop in our area yesterday, looks like a great place to buy nice foody presents as well as good local food.

  14. Eisha: GREAT to see you, and very glad to hear it — the absence — shall pass. Have been wondering if all was okay. Thanks for letting us know!

  15. Emma, muntjac=the new thing I’ve learned from you today.

    So glad you had a good time with your mom. Ireland. I’m jealous. Know what I love about you, Emma? That you do things like pick up chestnuts off the road and cook them up for dinner.

    In haste…


  16. Hey Jules, thanks for the kind words about the latest ice photos. I’m starting to select and print for the show, which is quite exciting. And it all started with that wee virtual gallery here last winter!

    We’re big Scaredy Squirrel fans here too, and that new book looks great. I’d extend your hubby’s mantra to “TV is for suckers”…since that’s where kids get most of the advertising.

    Thanks also for the link to Ben Sollee’s stuff — very inventive and interesting. It’s only a matter of time before I forsake the smaller string instruments for a cello, to my wife’s chagrin.

    JES, I just bumped into the Fun Theory Project this week, and loved it.

    Andrienne, I’m jealous that you’ve been to Niagara Falls many times — I’ve always wanted to, but never have.

    Jone, that multi-generational photo show sounds wonderful. Cool idea.

    I haven’t been feeling thankful these last couple of weeks, which means that I especially need this exercise in thankfulness. Easy enough to be grateful when everything’s going your way…

    1) As of this week, I’ve worked for the same company for 10 years. It almost feels like an anti-kick, but really, I need to be thankful for a decade of decent-paying, fairly creative, home-office-based work. And I get five weeks of paid vacation now!
    2) Going to see U2 again in 10 days — just booked our favourite old hotel in Vancouver so we can make a bit of a family vacation out of it.
    3) We celebrated Ella’s sixth birthday.
    4) Ice-skating season has begun, and it’s the only exercise I’m getting.
    5) Squash and pumpkin soup from the garden harvest.
    6) Dark stouts and porters as the weather cools.
    7) That whole last set of ice photos was the result of orchardists leaving their sprinklers on through a cold night — I was in my glory.

  17. Eisha, I am glad you have not fallen off the edge of the world. Missed you.

  18. Hey, there must have been something in the air yesterday…the Glen Echo House had chili as well, JES

  19. Jules – so far, Cy and Ruby seem oblivious to commercials, but that’s probably because we limit their TV viewing to DVDs or sports. I think it’s going to bite us on the bum when they hit the teen years though. I hope you feel better soon.

    Emmaco – I’m glad you had a great visit. In all my years of living in England, I have never been to Ireland. It’s on my list though.

    Jeremy – ice-skating already!!??!! My friends just saw U2 last week and said it was an amazing show.

    My kicks this week:

    1 – Spending two weekends in a row visiting family.
    2 – The pumpkin patch.
    3 – Sitting by a bonfire and eating brunswick stew.
    4 – My almost 17 year old niece has started posting a vlog on Youtube where she babbles on about absolutely nothing. It is hilarious and I am so proud of her for putting herself out there – she has more self confidence than anyone else I know.
    5 – Watching Ruby put her dollies to bed on the kitchen floor.
    6 – The purple and orange mums on our front porch.
    7 – Having students thank me for helping them choose the right books for their papers and book reports.

  20. Happy fall, all. Love the concept of Melanie’s book, and have always agreed (as Jules so perfectly put it) that “commercials are for suckers!”. Mute buttons are wonderful things.

    Oh, how I wish I could go to the O’Keefe exhibit with you, Jules! As I mentioned last weekend, I just read a wonderful book about her and watched the television documentary recently. Must be O’Keefe Appreciation Year. She’s amazing.

    Speaking of amazing, Jeremy, your photos are gorgeous!

    Lovely thoughts about the stash of letters you found, JES. And I share your awe about technology and friendship — finding this site because of Google and Sam Phillips lead me to Jules and all of you. I will be forever grateful for that.

    My kicks, before returning to work and visiting with my parents today:

    1) Listening to my original Victrola phonograph from 1920 with my Dad, who brought me a big stash of 78 records owned by his parents and my great-grandparents. Watching my Dad’s face while he listened to songs from his childhood made me feel really good.
    2) Having a great phone conversation with my friend and co-Sam fan, Jules. Hi, Jules!
    3) The lovely rain we had earlier in the week.
    4) Getting a new client just as I was starting to worry about things slowing down. Very grateful for that.
    5) Going to dinner at a new friend’s home, and finding out how much we have in common.

    Hope everyone has a lovely fall week!

  21. Jules, I admit I was inspired to collect and cook the chestnuts from my friends at work who are keen on countryside pursuits. And I forgot to put in the link to muntjac deer so I’m glad you figured out what they are!

  22. Jeremy, happy birthday again to Ella. Your post for her was beautiful. As always. Have fun seeing U2. Some friends of mine drove to Chicago to see them recently and described the concert as “life-changing.” Whoa. Every now and then my husband likes to remind me that he once saw U2 AND The Pixies live.

    Zoë, we also limit TV-watching to DVDs, but I guess they’ve seen a bit of commercials during Sat. morning “Strawberry Shortcake.” My husband and I have different, more obscene names for that character, but I’ll spare you all. I taught them how to use the mute button, talked to them about what commercials are, talked to them about how commercials come in various shapes and sizes (even the Jehovah’s Witnesses who seem to love to come to our door), etc., but if they see one, they still fall for it. Blerg.

    If you hadn’t already seen a pumpkin patch, Zoë, I’d tell you all to come here and see one with us some time soon.

    Jill, congrats on that new client, but I hope you don’t get worked to death. Kick #1 is fabulous and great.

    Emma, whenever we have our kicks breakfast one day (everyone, in person, meeting up some place — with all our fantasy money), then you MUST provide dessert.

  23. Mélanie Watt: Thank you for giving the Imps some luck and some smiles! I look forward to reading your new and future books, as I’ve enjoyed your recent and past works. Scaredy Squirrel and I would be great friends.

    Jules: You will win the fight against bronchitis! BE VICTORIOUS, SPARTAN! In all seriousness, I’m sorry that you’ve been ill, and I hope you feel better soon. Happy official birthday to the munchkin. Your friend is pretty awesome to drive all that way for the party. Remind me to look up and listen to Ben’s music. Speaking of which (meaning rocking out unexpectantly on a stringed instrument), have you heard Vanessa Mae? I’ll bookmark the INK Tank shortly.


    Are you ready for Teen Read Week? I hope you’ll join our nightly chats at readergirlz readergirlz.blogspot.com Monday through Friday. Our line-up of authors is so cool. All Imps are ALWAYS invited to rgz chats. Always!

    I hope the conference is amazing! I want to hear all about it. 🙂

    I trust that you all got your Cybils nominations placed in time, yes?

    Click here. See this comic strip. Read this quote.

    Tarie: I posted at the readergirlz blog about _your_ post & the fantastic resources of PaperTigers. Here it is. Hope that’s okay! How are you doing? In answer to your question from last week, no, I don’t drink coffee. I don’t drink soda. I don’t drink anything that has caffeine in it.

    Laini and Jim: Whenever I see a blog in which your daughter’s name is mentioned, I think: “She should have a playdate with Sarah Dessen’s daughter, Sasha Clementine.” 🙂 Congratulations on the nomination!

    Jen: That is hilarious. Write that story down and put it in the scrapbook.

    Tricia: That is a kicky, kicky list!

    Jone: Fun family times. How neat, to surprise her with that visit! Hurrah for Flash Burnout launching!

    Adrienne: What’s your favorite Sesame Street movie? I think mine is Follow That Bird. See my comment to eisha below for a clip from a Sesame Street show. Are you going to cook and/or carve hte pumpkins? I’m glad to hear that the talk went well and generated interest. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls. Whenever I hear, “Niagara Falls,” I immediately think of two films: Niagara, a 1953 movie with Marilyn Monroe, and Niagara Niagara, which I have not seen. Enjoy sharing the new Wimpy Kid. Have you and your graphic novel followers read The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan or Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell?

    eisha: Sorry that you’re swamped. Just remember, if there’s an alligator in the swamp, he’s friendly. Same thing if there’s an alligator in your room, but in that case, it’s really a dog. (Corny, yes, but memorable ’cause it’s from childhood.)

    Jama: Aloha! I spoke of Hawai’i today with someone who was born and raised there, then moved in adulthood.

    JES: I think of the fingerprints on cards and notes, and the footprints on floors (especially dance studio floors and stages), and all of the people who have thus crossed paths. Yay for the back-and-forth comment-conversation! I rarely get comments at my blog. I am now singing Chili Chilly to the tune of Wooly Bully. It’s fun. Give it a try. I’m liking FlashForward well enough so far. I’ve always been fascinated to stories dealing with any sort of time travel or visions. Glad to hear that you too are a fan of Cold Case & WoaT. I miss WoaT. New CC episode on tonight!

    Thanks to Jules for making that investment, and to JES, for sharing it.

    emmaco: I love that, upon seeing the phrase “my mum,” I knew I’d arrived at your comments! Glad your mom is safe and sound back home, but sorry that she had to leave you. Oh, Ireland! Oh, to travel vicariously through you! I read “muntjac deer” as “mutant deer.” Imagine what you will.

    Jeremy: Happy workiversary! Congratulations on that landmark and on the showing! Have fun at the concert. Happy birthday, Ella! Yummy soup.

    Zoë: Those flowers sound lovely. Purple’s my favorite colour. Hurrah for the students that appreciate your help! Good luck to your niece with her vlog. Would she be interested in readergirlz at all? That age plus vlogging made me think of it. Our author-in-residence, Beth Kephart, is vlogging + holding contests.

    Jill: Your Victrola experience makes me want to smile and sing. May your new client treat you well.

    My kicks, in chronological order:
    1) Wrapping the TV show (and unexpected assistance)
    2) Wrapping the play (and strawberries, and comfort)
    3) Health (I appreciate it when I don’t have it)
    4) Breathing (Never to be taken for granted)
    5) Pulling back (and making decisions)
    6) Pushing forward (auditioned for a new TV show today, then recorded dialogue for another project)
    7) Orange juice (I just can’t get enough)

  24. Little Willow, I always love it when the simplest of kicks are recorded. Like “orange juice.” Those kinds of kicks are my favorites. Anyway, sounds like you were sick this week. Hope you feel better soon. You wrapped so many projects this week, too, that I hope you’re not down about it. I know it’s hard to say goodbye to shows/projects sometimes.

  25. Here I am, way behind on emails, but still able to squeak in my seven kicks before Sunday ends in the PST.

    1. The Remlinger Farms autumn harvest festival with rides, pumpkins galore, Eric Ode in performance, etc. is a low-key family event that has been quite satisfying for two years in a row. Best of all, we didn’t get rain!

    2. I paid my bills tonight.

    3. I filled in my absentee ballot tonight.

    4. Thanks to Johnny of Bellevue American Music (yes, that’s an unabashed plug for a fabulous music shop), the guitar strap button on my graphite guitar is secure.

    5. I’m relishing the homemade apple butter I got from the Farmer’s market this summer. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone, but the people who make it assure me that they do home deliveries. I probably won’t taken them up on it, but I am sorely tempted.

    6. A good friend is coming over to babysit Tuesday night so that both my husband and I can attend the bookreading of Justine Larbalestier.

    7. Many Moons, by James Thurber.

  26. Farida, date! Have fun on Tuesday. Glad you didn’t get rained on at the pumpkin farm, and apple butter…mmm. You’re making me hungry this morning.

  27. I’m coming over a day late because I had a great week and I wanted to read about all of YOUR great weeks…

    Welcome back, Jama; feel better, Jules; dang, I’m JEALOUS that so many of you get to meet each other in person!!; LOVE this hilarious book. Ads ARE for suckers…

    My own kicks?
    1. Camping this weekend for 2 nights with 7 families and 3 dogs and a bunch of canoes and marshmallows and stars and stuff.

    2. Three day weekend so I’ve got my girls here for thrift-store fabric shopping and the library.

    3. I read SLH’s Operation Yes this week AND STB’s Hugging the Rock. They both blew me away.

    4. All the World might get to be in Cheerios boxes! There is this crazy voting thing going on now that, frankly, befuddles me. But in the end someone might be pulling out a miniature copy of my book over breakfast.

    5. Three yoga sessions since last Monday. Lovely.

    6. I’m hosting my agent-mate Tam Smith at my blog this week to talk about The Vibrant Triangle of picture books. And she’s tres cool.

    7. October in Texas is perfection…

    Happy week, friends…

  28. Niagara was on television this morning. I kid you not. Granted, it wasn’t the program airing when I initially turned on the TV set – that would have made it even more hysterical – but it was airing on a different channel, which I switched over to for a few minutes for the sake of the Imps.

    Jules: Thank you. I cannot stand being sick. I cannot wait until I’m completely better and back to normal. As per projects, I’m looking forward to whatever comes next. Though I am admittedly anxious for it to show itself soon, I am trying to be patient and wait for something worthwhile. I’m in something else right now, a musical, but that only has one performance per week and has a rotating cast.

    Farida: Enjoy the book reading on Tuesday! Kudos for filling out your ballot and paying your bills. Important things.

    Liz: Crossed fingers and toes for All the World in Cheerios! Keep us posted. Have fun with fabric, friends, family, and books.

    Am I the only person here who hasn’t played in a pumpkin patch this week?

  29. Al Foxwood is pretty awesome. That whole style is so fun, it reminded me of one of my favorites from long ago, good old Grover and The Monster at the End of This Book.

    Jules, hope Ms. O’Keefe cured your bronchitis! She is one of my faves, and when I lived in Santa Fe I grew to love her work even more. Sadly I left before her museum opened, but visiting it in the future is on my Life List. And your singular determination in getting the kicks post is definitely O’Keefe like in committment to art!

    jone – what lovely and fun travels! Hooray for great birthday surprises!

    Tricia – afternoon tea and good conversation sounds heavenly.

    Ditto to Jama for Hawaii and family for 10 days!

    adrienne – count me among the jealous as well for your multiple visits to Niagara Falls. The closet I’ve gotten was instant picture mail when a friend was there last year!

    JES – I am with you – I hate to throw things out, and love to rediscover old cards and letters. After my mom passed, I discovered love letters between her and my dad when they were apart for 6 weeks before their wedding. So sweet, and a view of my parents I would’ve otherwise not gotten. (I was used to them as grownups/parents in love – this was them as young and besotted with each other before kids/life/work showed up.)

    LW – Love that strip – and get it emailed daily – now I love knowing you like it too!

    Zoe – the stew and bonfire sound wonderful.

    Congrats to Jeremy on the upcoming show!

    Liz – I am jealous of all the yoga (as I try to make sure I don’t miss a class today!)

    My week/weekend was a bit overwhelming, but lots to be thankful for.

    1. Glee. (I just love the wit, and the fact that damn that cast can sing!)
    2. Gerard Butler on SNL. swoon.
    3. Coffee with the dogs both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Very nice.
    4. My new extra-early morning drive to drop the dog off makes me get to the gym daily since it on the way to work. Hate to be up so early, but like how I feel leaving the gym.
    5. Working this weekend so I have today off!
    6. The pumpkin now on the porch.
    7. Did my first submission/photo for the iloveyoucards.org project
    mine is up at my place, but really, you should check out her site – its a very cool project!

    Have a great week!

  30. Hi, everyone! I hope we all have a super duper kick-y week ahead. =D

    Little Willow, my family and I now have the house looking the way it did before the flood!!! But I must admit that is mostly because of my brother’s cleaning and organizing. (I am horrible with housework.) Thank you so much for asking. * hug * And thank you for spreading the word about the PaperTigers feature on Filipino kidlit/YA!!!

    And… You don’t drink anything with caffeine in it??? So all your energy is… natural??? Jealous!!!

  31. Zoë, no, not outdoor ice-skating yet — that’s usually around Christmas here — just in the indoor arena with artificial ice.

    Thanks all for kind words on the photos and show…and I’m glad to hear the reviews for U2 have been good.

    Little Willow, I also love your simple, sometimes-mysterious kicks. And your summaries/responses to everyone when you come in late(ish) are wonderful too.

    Saints and Spinners, that harvest festival sounds fantastic.

    Liz, you know you’ve hit the big-time when kids are pulling your stuff out of their cereal boxes. Awesome.

    rm, what could be cooler than spreading “I Love You” cards to brighten days everywhere? Hope you’re doing ok — in your blog it sounded like you’d had a rough couple of weeks. Hang in there!

  32. Liz, I hope you get the Cheerio’s gig, and I love kick #6 and will come visit.

    Little Willow, sending healthy vibes your way.

    Hey, RM, I kinda love your frogs, too. They’re huge, too. I need to get a pumpkin for my porch. Happy Day Off!

    Tarie, so glad you checked in and are still okay. I’m sure you all have so much work ahead of you; kudos to your borther and his cleaning efforts.

    Jeremy, please keep us updated on the gallery showing!

  33. rm preston: A friend showed me some of Gerard’s SNL sketches this afternoon. The Spartan sketch made me think of 7-Imp. Mutts – the comic strip, the books, anything related to it – is so precious. I love the work the author has done for animal rights, the heightened awareness to shelters, farm animals, endangered animals, and more.

    Tarie: Yay! More and more good vibes for your family for the restoration. No, no caffeine here.

    Jeremy: Have you read Undercover by Beth Kephart? Lovely depiction of skating in that novel. I dislike posting late, but I was out of the house at an early hour yesterday.

    Thanks, Jules.

  34. Yup, Little Willow, I just now sent that Spartans skit to Eisha!

  35. No, I’ve never read Undercover — would you recommend the whole thing, or just the skating parts?

    Jules, the only update on the gallery show is that I’ve made 12 prints now, and it’s so fun to see them come “alive” in a bigger format. They’re not huge, as my old lower-megapixel camera puts out pictures that can only be blown up effectively to about 8×12, but I want to do lots of them. This won’t be one of those austere shows where four lonely pictures occupy 800 square feet. My feeling in creating the book was that the real interest in these images comes out when you see all the variety…like the power is more in the collective than in any one shot.

  36. I wish I could come see it, Jeremy!

  37. Jules: Whenever I heard “Spartan,” I think of you and eisha, while “Spartacus” makes me think of not only the obvious (real warrior and the films, etc) but also this.

    Jeremy: The whole book. Beth writes lovely stories.

  38. I teach preschool, and my all time favorite thing about my job is that I get to read amazing books to kids! How I didn’t find out about this blog years ago, I’ll never know! It’s amazing and I love it! Thank you for showing that kids books are a big a part of literature as Shakespeare or Jane Austen. Amazing job! Scaredy Squirrel is one of my favorites…and my preschoolers too!!

  39. Thanks, Meghan! Come back and talk books with me!

  40. […] should add that Steven is the co-producer of this fabulous project, which I had posted about here a while back. When he suggested what specifically he could contribute to the blog, I immediately […]

  41. […] Have I Got a Book for You!, 2009 (Author/Illustrator) […]

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