An EVERYDAY WONDERful Launch Party on December 8!
Late this summer, when my husband and ten-month-year-old son and I were living with my parents in Missouri, we learned that we had been indirectly exposed to COVID. There was a wedding shower indoors; an in-law had attended it, unmasked; a family member spent time with the in-law; this family member spent time with us. When another guest at the wedding shower tested positive, the news traveled back along the chain, and the waiting began: for the in-law to get tested, for the results to arrive, for the necessary ten days of quarantine to pass, because this virus is a varmint and time is more reliable than testing.
And while we waited, every evening of that quarantine, I thought, Maybe this was our Last Good Day. Because those were good days, wonderful days, when Dash was figuring out how to sit up on his own, and my mom read board book after board book after board book to him (twenty-nine in one day!). I was editing a book for kids about Black Lives Matter (now available here), and James was taking drawing lessons, and we all cooked and ate dinner together every night; the weather wasn't too hot and the cat was amusingly grumpy and Dash cruised about the kitchen in his walker. I always try to notice and appreciate all those little things as they happen, in keeping with Vonnegut's Law, but our possible COVID exposure made me even more exquisitely aware of just how delicate and lucky such moments were -- that if one of us started coughing, if Dash had a too-high fever, if (God forbid) my mom or dad died of the disease, then our Last Good Day together might have passed without my knowing it. And while good days would still exist in the future, for sure, everything would be different and harder going forward.
This is a heavy way to begin an e-mail about a light and bright picture book! But my new book, A YEAR OF EVERYDAY WONDERS, came directly out of two of the habits seen in the story here: first noticing and appreciating small moments when they occur, and then naming those moments, as Firsts or Lasts or Twenty-Thirds, to savor them all the more. The text begins:
First day of the new year
First fight with your brother
And it continues on through “First valentine,” “First green in the gray,” “First short sleeves,” “First sparklers,” “First new teacher” . . . all the little firsts, and eventually lasts, that mark the passage of a year in a child’s life. The book has been delightfully illustrated by the Canadian artist Qin Leng, who took these disparate phrases and created a whole loving world around the protagonist and her brother, with funny and poignant details throughout. It’s been well-received so far too, with three starred reviews, and Amazon naming it one of their Best Books of December for ages 3-5. Publishers Weekly interviewed me for their Four Questions series here, and BookPage reviewed it here, calling it “a truly wonderful, wonder-filled picture book, perfect for revisiting in every season of the year.” You can see more of Qin’s brilliant art at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
A YEAR OF EVERYDAY WONDERS will be in stores this coming Tuesday, December 8 (yes, tomorrow, if you’re reading this on Monday), and I’m holding a virtual launch party that evening at 6 p.m. EST. With apologies for the late notice, it would be lovely to have you there! I’ll do a reading of the book, talk about some of the writing decisions that went into it, invite you to make your own list of firsts, and take some Q&A. (You will also be very welcome to eat cookies and drink sparkly drinks wherever you are.)
The event is being sponsored by Books of Wonder, a marvelous children's bookstore in New York City, and while a book purchase isn't required for attendance, I must say it would also be lovely if you bought a copy of the book, should your circumstances permit. If you order it from Books of Wonder, you can add instructions on how you would like it personalized in the “Additional info here” box on the form, and I’ll sign it for you before it’s shipped. (If you’ve already preordered a copy elsewhere, reply to this e-mail with your address and personalization info, and I’ll be glad to send you a signed bookplate.) So, for easy reference:
A YEAR OF EVERYDAY WONDERS Launch Party!
Tuesday, December 8, at 6 p.m. EST
Register for the launch party here
Purchase a book through Books of Wonder here or by calling (212) 989-3270
To round off my story: The in-law tested negative; the days passed; and at some point I stopped thinking about lasts, though I remain grateful for all good days when they’re done. James and Dash and I came back to New York in October, and our recent firsts have included “First home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner,” “First snow flurries of the winter,” and “First time going down the slide at the playground headfirst” (a very enjoyable endeavor, apparently, as Dash now does this every time). I hope that you’re finding some little joys like these at the end of this benighted year, and that we all have a better 2021. Thank you so much for your friendship and support.
Put My Brain to Work for You!
Would you like to pick my brain for an hour about your manuscript, the publishing industry, or anything in between? Or have me talk to your writing group for that hour, or critique your query letter or first ten pages, or geek out about picture book structure? Well, now is your chance — or to be more precise about it, five chances! I’m auctioning off five such hours as part of a fundraiser for my beloved church, Park Slope United Methodist, a reconciling and social-justice congregation in central Brooklyn. If you win one of the hours, you can use it in pretty much any way you choose, for any person you choose (so it might make a great gift for a writing friend) . . . my editorial mind is at your service. And as of 12:42 a.m. on December 7, the highest bid is just $60, so I’m (currently) a cheap date.
The auction also includes signed copies of my picture books THUNDER TRUCKS and A YEAR OF EVERYDAY WONDERS; a beautiful lap quilt to keep you warm this winter, made by my mother, Becky Sadler Klein; a made-to-order t-shirt quilt also created by my mom, which would be a great gift for an upcoming graduation, retirement, or celebration; and sundry other cool items around the Park Slope area, with all proceeds going to the good work PSUMC does in our community and world. Bid away! (Though keep your mitts off the copy of CASTE and the gift certificate to Community Bookstore -- that's mine.) The auction runs through December 18th. Thanks for checking it out and spreading the word!
So I, uh, don’t think I’ve sent out a newsletter since this dude above was born, and as a result: Meet Dash! He is fourteen months now, and he loves looking at books, with decided opinions already about what he wants to read. He approves of Kirby Larson’s DASH here very much, and also likes Miffy, Max and Ruby, peek-a-boo books, YO! YES?, KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON, and any book with photographs of babies.
Thank you for reading.