Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Teaching Authors Blog

The Teaching Authors Blog is a really interesting place where six children's book authors post about writing, teaching, teaching writing, and more.  I love what author and teacher Esther Hershenhorn suggested in a recent blog post there about how all of us can create a new holiday tradition modeled on the poesiealbum tradition so central to my book, The Year of Goodbyes.  Read about her ideas here at the Teaching Authors Blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Virginia Is For (Book) Lovers

At book festivals up and down Virginia in the past two weeks, The Year of Goodbyes and Maybe I'll Sleep in The Bathtub Tonight were met with enthusiasm and inquisitiveness--and I was met with much gracious hospitality!  The children in all three venues--Fairfax, Newport News, and Virginia Beach--were bursting with ideas and rhymes in our Bathtub sessions on funny poetry.

In Newport News, a group of adults and high school students gathered for discussion of The Year of Goodbyes.  The participants raised a wide range of issues, including the commonality of refugee and immigrant experiences across the decades, and the relationship between the old-fashioned poesiealbum presented in the book and social media like Facebook and Twitter.  Excellent discussion!  It is no slight to this adult audience to say that the audience of fifth graders I met a week later in Virginia Beach to talk about The Year of Goodbyes voiced thoughts and questions that were every bit as insightful and interesting in their own way.

I had another treat in Virginia Beach, which was seeing fellow children's book author Laurel Snyder present her book, Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher, to the kindergarten-and-under set.  A wonderful story, both funny and meaningful.  I sat there laughing out loud, just like the kids.

For me, then, very rewarding trips!  Many thanks to the Jewish Community Centers that hosted me, and to the Jewish Book Council for facilitating my events in Nothern Virginia and Virginia Beach.

Sharing The Year of Goodbyes with students from the Hebrew Academy, Virginia Beach--what a library they have!

Talkin' 'bout bedtime poems at the Virginia Beach JCC


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Best Books from Kirkus

The Year of Goodbyes is on the new Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books of 2010 list.  See it here.

I appreciate it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Press People = Book People

Those press pepole know how to throw a book festival.  At the National Press Club's Book Fair & Authors' Night last Tuesday, there were 80-plus writers signing books, and scores of readers buying books.  But wait, there's more:

That's right, special book fair cookies.  Are they not beautiful?  You know that's a bookworm, right?

My mom was with me, so we could jointly sign The Year of Goodbyes:

We had a wonderful time.  My colleague from the Children's Book Guild, Laura Melmed, was also there with her new Hanukkah book.  We were both too busy signing books to chat much, and that is not anything to complain about!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Ant and the Rabbi

The great thing about doing book events with young kids--especially when your own are all grown up and moved away--is how often they surprise you with their fresh perspectives.  With their vision, if you will.  This definitely includes the youngest ones.   

Let's take last Sunday night at the JCC of Greater Washington's Book Festival.  I was doing a poetry presentation, and had just performed a poem from Maybe I'll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight--"Snack Attack."  The poem is about a girl named Essie and her habit of snacking in bed.  Up on the screen was the page from the book.  I had also put a little Jewish star on the slide; since this was the JCC, I was having some fun challenging the kids to find a few Jewish elements here and there among the poems.  Here's the page:

Okay, for me, the Jewish element in the poem was the character's name--I had named Essie for the Yiddish word ess or essen--eat.  It was just my private little (tiny) joke with myself.  I thought a parent might get it.  I thought the kids would think of Queen Esther.

"What's Jewish in this poem?  What's Jewish on this page?" I ask.

No hesitation.  "The chicken!" one child calls out.

Huh.  Well, yes, among the foods pictured in the feast strewn across Essie's bed there appear to be some roast chicken legs.  What's more Jewish than roast chicken, right?

"Great!  What else?"

A very small boy is saying something I can't quite make out.  I lean in to hear better. 

"Mumblety-bumblety-mumblety--an ant is all dressed up in his fancy black clothes and hat like a rabbi going to shul!" he finally gets out.

Yes.  So much more creative than my own essen idea, which now seems absolutely lame in comparison.

Thanks to the JCC for hosting me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Around here it's snowing yellow leaves, not six-sided white flakes, but I always think of Frost's poem this time of year when I'm walking through the woods.  Last week, Toby and I (that would be Toby, my chocolate Lab) were hiking along, leaves dropping like--well, like leaves--all around us, when we both stopped in surprise at the sight of one particular leaf notable because it was not dropping to the ground.  This leaf was a sheet of cardstock paper, hung like a Christmas ornament from a sapling.  What was it?  A poem!  A poem hanging from a tree branch.  Here it is:

Okay, so it wasn't Robert Frost.  It appeared to be one inspired teacher's way of inspiring his or her students to learn to identify and appreciate the trees along the Potomac River.  I certainly thought it was inspiring--and how can you not love coming across a poem, of any kind, hanging from a tree in the woods?

Toby and I took to the trail a couple of days later with some friends.  I wanted to show them the poem, but it was gone.  It was another gorgeous day (you people here in the D.C. area know what I'm talking about if you were around last week), and we came across a family group.  They were a little lost (only a little), so we walked together for a while.  The father said the kids had been in the woods earlier in the week with classes from Georgetown Day School.  Did they hang poems from trees? I asked.  Indeed they did, he said, and the kids had a great time.  Mystery solved.  And my thanks to the teachers of Georgetown Day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teen Read Week (belatedly)

How'd I miss it?  Teen Read Week, a celebration sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, was last week.  But teens are still reading this week, I bet, so it's not too late to take note of this year's theme of "Books with Beat"--and I'm happy that the Mother-Daughter Book Club blog put The Year of Goodbyes on its list of nine recommended books with beat.

For more on Teen Read Week, which, given how many hours teenagers can devote to sleep, really should last more than a week, check out the YALSA website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To Begin

I'm happy you've made your way here to @ Debbie Levy.  I've put this together as a companion to my website, Debbie Levy Books.  Here on the blog you'll find the latest news about my books and appearances; there on the website you'll find more detailed information about the books.  I hope you find both places of interest!