Just to change things up a bit, here’s a wall-hanging I made earlier this year. It is a sampler from Ruth McDowell’s Piecing Workshop. I had a ton of fun making it and I want to get back to the technique soon, but using my own design. I’ve been accumulating the necessary supplies to make my own design: including a light table and more fabric. I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with.
I learned today that Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator is reviewed in the July/August issue of the Horn Book magazine.
Here is a brief excerpt: “The pacing of the spare text moves, appropriately, at a snail’s pace, conveying with a phrase or sentence per page the wolfsnail’s deliberate and single-minded focus on food. Each step is illustrated with an exceptional close-up photograph that brings into sharp focus the glistening snail body, the ridges of its shell, and every nook and cranny of the hosta leaves on which the attack occurs.”
I appreciate the attention the book is getting in the review outlets. It will help get copies into public and school libraries. My friends in the marketing department at Boyds Mills Press have been helping me get excerpts of the reviews posted on the book’s Amazon page.
Photographs from my book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, are hanging in a gallery at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. I attended the opening last Friday and had a great time meeting fellow illustrators in the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. The event (which we are hoping will happen annually) coincided with the Decatur Arts Festival. The attendance was terrific as you can see from Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog. Elizabeth organized the event and had help hanging it from Liz Conrad.
A friend of mine from graduate school days and her son came by to see the exhibit. I enjoyed reading Wolfsnail (and a few others) to my friend’s son. It was nice to have the event in a children’s book store because it was very kid-friendly.
My own family came by the next day to pick me up. Since the bookstore’s stock of Wolfsnail sold out during the opening on Friday night, I provided some more from my stock and signed them. It is so much fun to meet people who are interested in my book.
Some of my writer friends from SCBWI/Southern Breeze came by, too. It has meant so much to be a part of a talented, dedicated, and supportive group of people.
I visited with three groups of fourth graders today and they had hundreds of questions. I read the book, shared the story behind the book, talked a little about my next project, and then let them have a look at live snails. As usual, the live snails were the main attraction. My own fourth grader took the photographs this time and he did a terrific job.
I took my slideshow presentation on my iPod, intending to use my LCD projector to show it. However, I ended up doing my presentation in the computer lab, which was equipped with its own projector. I guess I will encounter that more and more.
Tomorrow I will be at my sons’ elementary school for my first school visit with Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. Tonight I will be hooking my iPod to my LCD projector to make sure everything is working. I’ll be checking my camera battery and my memory card. I’ll also check my wolfsnail to make sure he’s wet and happy. When I got home from book group last night, I found two big slugs and three tiny snails. I fed the slugs to my wolfsnail and kept the smaller snails for show-and-tell tomorrow.
I imagine I’ll be handing my camera to my fourth grader to take some shots of his ole mom.
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing more marketing stuff; I have contacted three more bookstores in the Jackson metro area. I have one booking and two owners who have said they’ll put me on their schedules. The stores are very eager for special guests during summer reading season. I also learned this week that I’ll be returning to my hometown for school visits this summer.
I just finished reading Elizabeth George Speare’s Sign of the Beaver to Douglas. We had had a long day leading up to the evening that I finished it. Douglas’ older brother came up and sat on my lap so I read the last four chapters to them together. It still is a very special time for us — my reading to them at the end of the day.
Most often Douglas is very quiet while I read; occasionally, I think he’s gone to sleep. He piped up at one point that he thought Matt’s father might kill or be killed by an Indian.
Before that we read Whittington by Alan Armstrong.
On his own Douglas read The Jacket by Andrew Clements and was asking for another by him. We searched around until we found A Week in the Woods.
I signed books at the MS Museum of Natural Science on Saturday. The occasion was International Migratory Bird Day and the museum had a slew of events scheduled — including a trainer with birds of prey and builders who guided people in making bird houses.
I did a combination of book signing, reading, and live snail exhibit. Everyone loved seeing the snail — though a few of the little ones got concerned that the snail might “get away” and urged me to put him back in the container. In the end, I showed them that I could let the snail crawl on my hand with no ill effects.
Once again, I had a star photographer (my mother) on the job. She took 196 shots; I’ve posted a few here. She captured the diversity of the audience; filled each frame; and helped me set up the table. At first we had no pile of books at my table (there were stacks at the gift shop register and on a display table outside the gift shop. I was so glad we had the stack on the table because I could pick up a book and show the kids things in the story.
This visitor brought her grandchildren to the signing after we had met in Hattiesburg at the Children’s Book Festival. She bought a book for them and they peppered me with questions about the snail and offered their own theories about the biodiversity of the backyard habitat.
I had a great time yesterday signing books at Lemuria. My friends and family turned up, keeping me with a steady line of customers for about two hours. I signed books for my children’s teachers, friends from book group, from church, from my old days at the newspaper and people who just turned up in the store.
I brought a wolfsnail and some prey snails so the kids (and adults) could see a real wolfsnail in action.
I appreciate the efforts of the Lemuria staff, who made the visit very pleasant.
During a quiet moment near the end of the visit, a friend brought his son in for a book. Things were slow so I read the book to William, who is an intrepid backyard explorer. He told me he had found an alligator snapping turtle in his grandmother’s yard — just that morning.
My mother took the photographs (my teacher in action) and my father took my younger kids home when they had had enough of Mom being in the hot seat. Richard and Graeme joined us for the first 15 minutes and then left for Meridian so Graeme could play in a statewide piano recital.
I had a great time this morning talking about wolfsnails on the radio. I was a guest on the call-in show Creature Comforts. I sat with Libby Hartfield, director of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and Gene Edwards, a radio/television presenter, who co-host the show, and talked about discovering and learning about wolfsnails.
Here’s a photograph of what we looked like just after the show was over. The wolfsnail is in a plastic container on the table between Gene and me.
The show will be available to listen to online in about a week. Just click here.