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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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on Friday, 20 November 2009
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Just an update, since I had mentioned on the blog that my son Ben had been selected to play for the New England team at the over-30 Baseball World Championship series held last week in Florida.

Ben Baseball

Here's Ben. The New England team lost in the semi-final round so they did not emerge as the champions, but Ben, who played second base and shortstop, said it was all wonderful fun---well, here's his actual description:

 I got back from the Fall Classic in West Palm last night and wanted to let you know what a great experience it was.  The New England team, made up of 15 guys from Maine, NH and Mass (and called “The Maine Diamond Dogs”) lost in the semi-finals, 3-1, to a team from New Jersey.  Along the way, we beat the Puerto Rican team in the 6000 seat main stadium, which was the highlight of the trip.  I also got the chance to play next to John Collins, an old friend from Colby, which was great.  Our team finished with 3 wins and 2 losses.  I batted cleanup and hit .333 for the tournament, playing shortstop and second base.  No, no home runs. I also got a chance to play against Dante Bichette, a former major league all-star who holds most of the all-time records for the Colorado Rockies and finished his career in Boston.  Fun stuff, for sure.

His two sons tend to use the very descriptive word "funnest." I think it might apply to Ben's baseball week.

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Note to Kids

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on Thursday, 19 November 2009
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Kids: If you want to send me an email with a  question or comment about one of my books...the blog is not the place to do that. Instead, click on "E-mail me" at the top of my website. Thanks!
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Crisp November weather

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on Wednesday, 18 November 2009
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Here is Alfie, in his hunting-season garb, so that his white-tipped tail wagging in the underbrush won't be mistaken for that of a deer.

Alfie, hunting season

Here's Susan Goodman a few minutes ago, snagging some of the last apples for yet one more dessert.

Susan picking

and here is Alfie again, munching on leftovers.

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Writers in Pajamas

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 16 November 2009
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First, before explaining the odd title to this post; here is the photo of the Literature to Life Award given to me last week in NYC by the American Place Theatre:

Lit to Life Award

As you can see, it is quite lovely, engraved with a passage from THE GIVER.  i went on after that occasion from New York to Chicago, for the opening of the play GOSSAMER, which has received absolutely wonderful reviews. From the photo on my previous post, you can see why: the staging and design was quite magical.

Following Chicago, I went to Albany---more about that trip in another post---and then to the annual Children's Book Fair at the University of Connecticut. There was a very nice dinner, and a chance to meet the other authors and illustrators, plus the staff of the Dodd Center there -- a fine collection of children's literature original materials---and also those hard-workers who run the book fair each year, quite an undertaking.

We visitors all stayed in the Nathan Hale Inn, where at 2:15 AM the fire alarm went off. That was the time and place where, in a misty drizzle, one could observe some of the finest people in the field, in their pajamas.  In my haste to leave my room I left my iPhone behind and so could not take pictures. But illustrator Diane DeGroat did, and threatened to post them on Facebook. I fear they won't be terribly revelatory because it was the traditional dark and rainy night---the only lights from two large fire engines. Eventually we were allowed to return to our rooms; no explanation of what the firefighters found or fought. Could a children's book author perhaps have been SMOKING! Yikes!

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What did Littlest look like?

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 09 November 2009
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Gossamer Littlest

Behind her, Thin Elderly, her mentor. And behind him, The Heap.

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Break a Leg!

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on Sunday, 08 November 2009
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The opening performance of "Gossamer" at the Adventure Stage Chicago was an absolute treat: the staging, costumes, set, and the individual performances all went together so smoothly and made for a magical 90 minutes and a completely rapt audience.

These couple of pictures are dreadful because I was using my iPhone while sitting on the stage afterward, with no light in some areas and too much in others. But here, photographed badly, is Toby, the dog, operated by Kasey Foster, who brought a semi-puppet to vigorous and endearing life:

Toby the dog

And here is the entire cast sitting on the edge of the stage, answering questions from the audience:

Cast post play

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That Toddlin' Town

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 05 November 2009
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Now I am in Chicago, staying at a B&B called Ray's Bucktown B&B, subtitled o its business cards "Not Your Parents' B&B"---of course what Ray, the proprietor, doesn't realize is that I AM my parents, or even my grandparents.

I don't know this city well, or its neighborhoods, but "Bucktown" seems to be a funky/artsy neighborhood, and therefore, I suppose, would not be the choice of those "parents" accustomed to The Four Seasons. But I like it. Tonight I am on my own and walked around checking out the restaurants, looking for a place to eat, and ended up in one named BRISTOL, about two blocks from Ray's. The list of entrees was daunting enough that I photographed it with my iPhone:

Menu

I was not adventurous---okay, I was a coward---and had the chicken. The pig tail was tempting, though.

Then, back in my room, I signed a batch of posters for tomorrow's play:

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To NYC tomorrow

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on Sunday, 01 November 2009
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I got home yesterday frm Keene, NH, after a busy Saturday at the Keene State College Book Festival, which David White has been running for---I think he said 38 years. (Can that be? He isn't old enough, surely!) I have been several times before, and it is always fun, with an enthusiastic audience  (500 this year) and varied, always interesting speakers...(this year surprisingly, all female: Katherine Paterson, Jane Yolen, Lita Judge, Beth Krommes, along with me.)  A squirrel performed a self-immolation on a transformer and caused a power outage of an hour or so but everyone re-grouped and made the best of it. And dinner was roast beef, not barbequed squirrel, despite many jokes about the possibility of the latter.

Tomorrow I head to NYC and here, lifted from the newspaper there, is why:

The American Place Theatre

The Giver: Theatrical Premiere And 2009 Literature To Life Award Event

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Wild Rumpus

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on Thursday, 29 October 2009
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Well, I have now seen "Where the Wild Things Are"  Everyone I had talked to had a different opinion---reviews are mixed---and I went at it with an open mind.

Wild things 2

The little boy playing Max was wonderful.  And the visual effects spectacular.

But I have to admit I didn't like it.  I wanted to. It has been a great favorite of my younger son, who still, in his 40s, treasures his childhood edition which, many years later, Maurice  signed and decorated for him.

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Getting ready for winter

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 27 October 2009
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IMG_2240

My gardening crew---all women---were here today, putting everything to bed, covering things with mulch, getting ready for, ugh, snow.  I've had Lucia and her crew working here for the past 8 years and I love how strong they are, how tireless, how cheerful.

My own daughter, my younger one, runs a business that is usually done only by men. She removes paint from various things but specializes in antique cars. So she is trim and strong as can be and very proud, rightly, of being an expert at such a demanding job.

It is very cool to see women loving hard work and doing it well.

And speaking of women: today is my granddaughter's 16th birthday. And darn it, the gift that I was so excited about sending her...which was mailed 3 weeks ago to Germany...has not arrived yet. Martin and I are going over there late in November, so we can take a duplicate if it has been lost in the mail. But I suspect it will show up in a few days. It's just disappointing that it wasn't there for the big day. More for me than for her!  Hiss boo to the postal service.

Today was not a full day of work because I was feeling kind of crummy with this cold and ended up napping this afternoon.  Did the trick, apparently, because this evening I am feeling pretty good and suspect that I'll be fine tomorrow. And they are predicting rain, so it won't be tempting to go outside...  I'll get lots done.

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up north

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on Tuesday, 27 October 2009
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I drove up here, to Maine, yesterday, listening to the Patriots on the car radio en route, and arriving at just the time of day on a late fall day when the shadows are long and seem almost golden in the reflection of the trees. The lake water is deep blue and the air is crisp.

Farm in October

I am snuffling with a cold but that's okay because I have no commitments this week, no one to sneeze on, no speeches to cough through. I came to spend the week alone, working. And this morning I opened up one of the three manuscripts that have been in the throes of neglect, and started in.

It seems odd to be here without the dog---I think it's the first time. And I'm aware of it when I walk from one room to another, and realize nobody has gone on full alert (She's leaving the room! I must follow!) And when I drove into town to get a newspaper, no one ran out and stood by the car, waiting to jump in.

I left him home both to keep Martin company but also because I will go from here on Friday to Keene, NH, to speak at the annual Children's Book Festival that Keene State College has held for many many years. I've been there twice before.  By then my cold should be over and done, and I'll be able to enjoy being back at Keene. Katherine Paterson will be there, and Jane Yolen. The person I will miss anew is Trina Schart Hyman, who was often at that festival and is so fondly remembered there.

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sniff sniff

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 25 October 2009
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Alfie sniffing

This is Alfie. And this is the door leading to our garage fro a sort of mudroom off the kitchen.

No, Alfie does not want to go into the garage. But he is smelling something that is underneath the garage, or the mudroom.  We can't smell it. But it is driving him crazy. He is spending every possible moment standing in this place, nose to the floor, occasionally woofing.

Once, a number of years ago, before The Alf was born, we did have a skunk under the garage. We paid a man $500 to come and trap that sucker.

I don't think this is a skunk, though. We smell nothing remotely skunkish. 

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brag brag brag

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 20 October 2009
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This is my youngest child, my son Ben, who is an attorney in Portland, Maine, and the father of my two grandsons who are almost 9, and 11.  It has been a long time since Ben was a college athlete and baseball star.  But he has, for years, enjoyed playing on local teams---this last summer in an over-30 league. He had quite a record this last season and as it turned out, ended up with a batting average of over 600, and placed #8 in the nation for teams of all ages. He has just been notified that he is to represent New England in the over-30 World Championship in Florida, where teams from all over the world will compete for the title over four days in mid-November.

Fun! Yay, Ben! We'll all be rooting for you!

Son Ben 2

 

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Rhode Island once again

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on Monday, 19 October 2009
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The September that I was seventeen years old, I arrived alone by train in Providence, Rhode Island, to begin college. There had, earlier in the fall, been a large hurricane that had flooded downtown Providence, which was still cleaning up and recovering. So it looked pretty crummy---and in truth, after it was cleaned up, it still looked pretty crummy in those days. I was happy to head uphill to Brown University, which was NOT downtown, and which even back then had an attractive campus surrounded by historical residential areas.

"The HIll," as it was---and still is---called, has not changed much. But downtown Providence is very different from the shabby, downtrodden look it had in the 50th.  MUCH upscaled and improved.

On Friday I got off the train once again, this time to attend the Rhode Island Book Festival which is always held at Lincoln School.  I have been to it twice before in its 20 years of existence, and it is always a pleasure to return and see the excitement about books that it generates.  One of the pleasures of such events, for me, is always the chance to see, sometimes once again, sometimes for the first time, authors and illustrators whose work I admire.  This year, the guests at the festival were Etienne Delessert, Mary Downing Hahn, Mary Ann Hoberman, Jerry Pinkney, Brian Selznick, Anita Silvey, Chris Van Allsburg, Padma Venkatraman, Paul Zelinsky, Christopher Paul Curtis

I copied that list from the website of the festival and now for the life of me can't get it smaller. But what the heck. All of those people are stars and deserve a big font.

Here's a photo of me with Paul Zelinsky

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small hands

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on Thursday, 15 October 2009
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I just came across, in my computer, this drawing, done by my older daughter, an artist, of her brother's hand and that of his new baby. That baby's birth announcement contained a line from e.e. cummings: nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Ben and grey copy

That baby is now eleven years old.

But here he is at two and a half, when his little brother was born, and here is THAT birth announcement:

 
Baby rhys copy
Really sweet baby copy
 

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Literature to Life

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 14 October 2009
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Lit award copy

It appears that his event is sold out. Sorry!

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Eat your heart out....

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 12 October 2009
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...ANYPLACE THAT IS NOT NEW ENGLAND IN OCTOBER!

My son just sent this from his weekend at Moosehead Lake in Maine...

Moosehead weeke…ct 09 (100)

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Every single day??!!

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 12 October 2009
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An article in this morning's NY Times tells of a woman who has taken on a self-imposed challenge, to read a book a day for a year. Not surprisingly, she reads quickly, as I do (the misfortune of that for me, is that I don't retain a lot of what I read)  Thinking about it, I went to my KIndle and counted the number of downloaded books---170; and that list began in March, 2008, so those 170 books were over the course of 19 months.  Math time: That comes to about 9 books a  month.  Then, of course, I also read "real" books, and I have no way of counting those. I'm going to guess those came to another 4 books per month. That's a book every two and a half days. Sounds about right.

Also in the NY Times, today...this in the on-line version---a video about a family in Pakistan, displaced from their home in Swat during the Pakistani Military action against the Taliban,  The father ran a school for girls, and his daughter was a wonderfully articulate (and fluent in English) 12-year-old. She spoke of the frustration of having nothing to read, when she was being moved from household to household as the family looked for safe places to stay.

Just yesterday I had two 12-year-olds here, Martin's twin granddaughters (they'll be thirteen at Thanksgiving)---one talked of how much she loved "Hunger Games," which I had given her on her last birthday, and now loves its sequel (Darn. I had bought it and put it away for her coming birthday, but she's already read it)

And Saturday, in Maine, I had breakfast with my own two grandsons, and they talked about what they are reading (all my grandchildren know what topic interests me most)..the 11 year old boy is in the middle of the Spiderwick Chronicles, and the 8-year-old absorbed in Stone Fox.

And me? One of my 13 books this month?  BROOKLYN, by Colm Toibin.

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Another Opening, Another Show...

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on Friday, 09 October 2009
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Adventure Stage in Chicago has recently started rehearsals for "Gossamer" and this is from their blog:

There's something incredibly powerful about assembling a group of people in a room around one idea. Tuesday night was the first rehearsal of Gossamer, and we had tons of incredibly talented people (actors, designers, directors, technicians, staff, etc.) all on stage sitting around a giant table, talking about the show and how it would look. After touching base with all of the actors and introducing ourselves, there was a gigantic design presentation with visuals of the set, the costumes, the lighting and the puppets. We heard clips from a very exciting sound design, and saw projections of images that will be used to support the story.

But by far the most exciting part of the evening was the read through that followed. It was amazing to be able to hear so many talented actors bringing the story to life, even while still sitting at the table. After seeing the design elements, and all the possibilities, hearing the play read out loud made it take on a new life. Afterward, everyone left the space feeling energized and excited to start work on this show.

Goss.First.Reh+087.edit

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Quoth the Raven

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on Monday, 05 October 2009
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Well, the Ravens didn't slink off the playing field muttering "Nevermore" yesterday, but they DID get beaten by the Patriots, and I was right there on the 50-yard-line enjoying every minute.

Pats game 2

This photo (pre-game) shows nothing except how very good my seat was. Many thanks to the Kraft family, who own the Patriots, and who have an almost-11-year-old granddaughter who is a book-lover.

I remember high school football games from my adolescent years (until I went to an all-girls school for my final two years of high school) and I remember being COLD. Games were on Friday nights and thogh we bundled up, it seems in my memory as if my feet always froze.

When I was in junior high school, in Tokyo, my older sister's boyfriend was a football star. Funny, I remember that his number was 41----that goes back 60 years!  The games were played in Meiji Stadium, in Tokyo, which had been built for the pre-war Olympics; and during the summers we swam almost every day in the Olympic pool there---I seem to remember that we could walk there from our house, but I could be wrong---maybe we took some sort of bus. Even as kids (I was 11, 12, and 13 in Tokyo) we made our way everywhere by bus and train, and sometimes bike, very easily and safely.

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