Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Monsters and Miracles" Family Day at the Skirball Part 2: Tao Nyeu and Erica Silverman

Sunday at the Skirball was jam-packed with family fun as L.A. celebrated some of its local children's authors and illustrators.

Tao Nyeu presented Bunny Days and her widely-acclaimed debut, Wonder Bear. The latter book sent my son into a "playing-with-magical-hats" phase last year. Of course, I was more than happy to indulge him.

(Come to think of it, I bet Rene Magritte had a relationship with his hat akin to the one the boy and the bear have in Wonder Bear. Speaking of hats, I love Eric's collection in the film Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Am I digressing enough?)

Here's an avid magical hat collector after returning from a personal intermission, trying in vain to catch up with Tao.

Here's Erica Silverman, children's book author and librarian extraordinaire, getting audience members with imaginations to raise their hands. Erica went on to assure everyone that as long as you have a brain, you have an imagination.
Why did we all have to summon our imaginations? Because Halloween came in May, as Erica led us through a spirited reading of Big Pumpkin.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!! That ghost's about ready to jump off the page!
Warning: don't read this book unless you're prepared to get cravings for a gigantic slice of pumpkin pie.

From Halloween to horses, Erica lassoed the audience in for selected readings from her endearing Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series.
Erica recently launched the sixth installment of Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, Spring Babies, with a fun event at Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, complete with a real, live pony. Yes, the pony was actually inside the store. Too cool!


Erica wraps up her presentation. And, finally, I must be really smitten with the mohawked boar, seeing as I've given him so much frame space in all my photos. I guess he seemed like the silent partner to my eye.

Another digression: The boar comes from the land of Noah's Ark at the Skirball, another exhibit to definitely check out.

Now I'm over and out...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Monsters and Miracles" Family Day at the Skirball Part 1: George McClements

Public Service Announcement: If you're in L.A. and still haven't checked out the "Monsters and Miracles" exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center, do yourself a favor and go.

Today's "Monsters and Miracles" Family Day featured a celebration of local children's book authors and illustrators, including Gerald McDermott, Susan Goldman Rubin, Tao Nyeu, Erica Silverman, George McClements, Zach Shapiro, Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs, and a musical performance from Aaron Nigel Smith.

I didn't get to see everything, but I'll share several blog posts worth stuff I did catch.

I'm still wondering why George McClements's publisher doesn't add "dinosaur wrangler" to his basic author/illustrator description. Probably because they'd have to pay him more. Well, it certainly doesn't mean that he wouldn't be earning every extra penny of it. Just look at what Milo, his blue dinosaur, puts him through.
I'm pretty sure that George's books come with extra special coatings to protect them from dino slobber.

In this picture, you can practically see the slobber dripping off the pages of Dinosaur Woods. I think some even got on George's hand.

I loved George's message: When you use shapes,
you can draw anything!
Milo gets a lot of "oooohs and aaaahs" from the crowd for his impressive circle. George had a hard time hiding his jealousy.
A Night of the Veggie Monster interlude. Check out them peas. I'm sure it's enough to give many a kid a culinary coronary. Wow!!!!!George drawing Milo.Milo surveying George's work.
Milo thinks he can do it better.

A hardcore contingent of Milo fans in the audience agrees. Poor George musters everything he can to hide the green monster while holding the blue one.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Skirball Family Workshop: Art from Discarded Book and Magazine Pages

I've had a lot of fun this year discovering artists who repurpose discarded books, such as Lynn Klopfer of Brown Bag Books, Suzanne Keolker of Mugwump, and Tyler Bender of Tyler Bender Book Co. These artists primarily reuse the covers, which left me wondering about how the pages themselves could be repurposed......until now.

The owl, peacock, and flying bird are amazing papier mache/paper sculptures by artist Kate Burger. My family and I had the chance to participate in a Kate Burger and Milk + Bookies workshop event this past weekend at the Skirball Cultural Center. To my delight, Kate's paper of choice was discarded book and magazine pages.

(By the way, Michael Fritzen, Director of Family Programs at the Skirball, consistently cranks out incredibly creative programming. Check it out if you're in L.A. and have the chance.)


The brown and black tinting on the peacock's wing tips was achieved using spray paint.

The birds' beaks (except for the owl's) were fashioned from Model Magic.


At the workshop, we helped feather a papier mache owl that Kate had prepared ahead of time. This book page has been stenciled with the owl's soon-to-be wing feathers.



Expert owl-maker hard at work.



It takes a village to build an owl.



Every feather just so..........



Here's some fun effects that can result from the use of colored pages. From faces on feathers........


to a man offering grapes (the latter courtesy of my ever-imaginative hubby:).


The expert owl-maker surveys the evolving avian artwork.

Before leaving the workshop, we all had the chance to create bouquets from discarded book and magazine pages. The expert flower-maker invites me to sniff his creation. Ah, the smell of reincarnated books.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

How Poets Are Like Astronauts

This happy astronaut-poet was recently caught smiling on Sunset Boulevard in the Silver Lake neighborhood of L.A. If I would hazard a guess, I'd say it was because he discovered a great pupuseria.


How poets are like astronauts:


--We live among the stars.
--We're in our own orbit.
--We're likely to experience weightlessness on the job.
--We're always in search of the uni-verse that seems just beyond reach.
--A poet would go to an observatory to "observe-a-story," and an astronaut would measure a poem's meter in meters.

This friendly astronaut-poet, part of Micheltorena Street School's Reach! mural designed by Kiki Giet, waves to passerby on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. She's known to stuff sonnets in her bonnet.
.
.

--When riding, astronauts know that planets move onward in elliptical orbits.
--When writing, poets know to plan it (move one word) in elliptical obits.
.
.
.
.
Ellipse,
Ellipsis,
My lips slipsis...
.
.
.
Onward ho, fellow astronaut-poets!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The 2010 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Déjà Vu/ Déjà View, or How Dueling Jarrett Krosoczkas Support the Existence of Parallel Universes

I've been reeling since my recent discovery concerning the nature of the universe. As might be expected, this paradigm-shifting discovery has brought on a bad case of existential crisis mixed with a touch of post-nasal drip.

Previously, many of my afternoons had been spent managing my citrus-colored minions, as they painstakingly built a stylish, Sputnik-like craft designed to seek out and prove the existence of parallel universes. No more. For the humble book festival in my own backyard has changed Everything, with a capital "e."

And here's the man around whom the fabric of space-time tore like a cheap picture book in a toddler's mouth-- Jarrett Krosoczka.

Here's a picture of Jarrett channeling his awesomeness. This doesn't take but a few seconds, by the way, for Mr. K is very extremely awesome (just ask my son, a big Lunch Lady fan).

Nobel prize-winning scientists, with whom I've consulted, believe that it was during this very awesomeness-channeling moment when life as we know it changed forever.

According to extensive data sheets, this change began on 4/25/09 (the date Jarrett Krosoczka first appeared at the L.A. Times Festival of Books) and erupted into total systemic googolotronic breakdown on 4/24/10 (the date of Jarrett's second L.A. Times Festival of Books appearance).

For a brief period between those two points in time, Universe A212 and Universe BN89 existed simultaneously on the same space-time continuum. And, yes, blog readers, I was there to capture every quantum-physics-tickling moment of it.


Universe A212 Jarrett does battle with Universe BN89 Jarrett to see who can draw the better Lunch Lady. Methinks it's a "draw," but I wouldn't want to get between two space-time bending doppelgangers, would you?





Universe BN89 Jarrett points to his face, insisting that he was the first Jarrett to come up with the clever Q-styled "mole communicator" for the Lunch Lady's sidekick/assistant, Betty.



The dueling doppelgangers challenge each other to a "Betty's gadgets" draw-off. I think I have to give it to the Universe A212 Jarrett this time. He got those totally tubular fishstick nunchucks in there.


Now let's follow the Jarretts through a reading of Punk Farm. Universe A212 Jarrett is thoughtful enough to let the other Jarrett go first.




They're going strong.



The battle rages on...


A high pitch frequency pulses through the UCLA campus, signaling the disentangling of Universe A212 from Universe BN89. In the next nano-second, the two Jarretts will be individuated again and free to return to their respective universes. They have finished making history.



And they all lived happily ever after. Feel free to rock on with your bad selves, a la Jarrett.
P.S. Even though there was only one picture book panel at the whole festival (can we change this, folks? While we're at it, how about book prizes for PB, MG, children's poetry, and children's graphic novels?), it was super rad. Hats off to Sonja Bolle for moderating a hilarious discussion with Kadir Nelson, David Shannon, and Pam Munoz Ryan.