How comforting to return to our One Potato... Ten! blog after a summer of launches! It started early last June with the graduation of my daughter from high school, which began the launching of her towards Oberlin College where she began classes just last week. The next launch was my new book, The Princess and Her Panther. The author, Wendy Orr, arrived all the way from Australia just on time for a celebration at one of our local independents, The Red Balloon Bookshop. Making a tent of red silk fabric, inspired from the story, Wendy read from the book while I used shadow puppets on the tent wall behind her to add to the drama of the night time camp-out scenes. We also presented at various other venues. For our more formal presentations, I created a movie of the book, with music composed by my husband, Matthew Smith, (pictured here with Wendy Orr and myself), and a wonderful reading of the story by Wendy, with her lovely Australian accent.
After successfully launching our book, I rushed Wendy to the airport then rushed to the Circus. When I am not writing and illustrating picture books, I am writing the script and designing and painting sets for the fabulous Circus Juventas! -- a youth circus school in St. Paul. This year's August show, which features their most advanced performers was SAWDUST. The story was based loosely on the book, Water for Elephants, but was set during the Golden Age of the American Circus, just before the Depression.
Sawdust was launched with great success! There were nineteen performances to sold-out audiences. I tried to usher as many shows as possible to see the script and sets come to life. These kids are amazing performers. I have come to see my work at Circus Juventas as bringing a story to life- like a giant picture book! (Also, my son performs with Circus Juventas. He is the clown in the poster.)
There were other events, including reading from my books on the Lake Harriet Trolley in Minneapolis. It happened to be the hottest, humid-est day of the summer (ending with tornados!) so after reading from my new book, I read from my books, Winter is the Warmest Season and Snow, just to cool us off!
I did have time for reading too- every morning with my cup of tea, my best reading time. Some favorite books are:
THE BOG CHILD and THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, by Siobahn Dowd. I had read her book, A SWIFT PURE CRY, two years ago and was so moved by the story and Dowd's gorgeous writing that I was determined to read all of her books. She tragically died of breast cancer too young, but has left her mark on children's literature, winning the Carnegie Medal posthumously for THE BOG CHILD, among many, many other awards.
Another book I enjoyed and found provocative was LIFE AFTER GENIOUS, by M. Ann Jacoby. A quirky first YA novel about a boy genius who drops out of college at 16 and tries to re-enter normal family life, with a lot of emotional fall-out for all of the characters.
These books along with others wove in and out of a very full summer. At last it is fall. My studio is cleaned up and ready to begin my next illustrated book, Tell Me About Your Day Today, by Mem Fox.