Listen To Me Talk!

Me recording the audiobook for Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist. Yes, I’m recording in my pantry. It was the only room in the house where I couldn’t hear the whine of my neighbor’s stupid weedwacker.

I can’t imagine that hearing me talk would be of much interest to anyone, but in the off chance I’m mistaken, I have good news! You can register for a free, online panel discussion where I’ll be blathering about my new book, Pirate & Penguin!

This book.

The event, hosted by New York literary institution, Books of Wonder, will held on Sunday, May 28, at 1 p.m. (EST).

Sounds great doesn’t it?

Well, there are other authors there, too. Jack Wong, author/illustrator of When You Can Swim, and Erica Root, author/illustrator of Close To You From Far Away, are both wonderful (and wonderfully talented) people.

If you ask me, it’s well worth the price of admission. (Free.)

All you gotta do is sign up and enjoy! And there’s a livestream, so you can ask me a question! How does that sound? (Answer: Groovy.)

Just click here to register. Here’s hoping I’ll see you Sunday!

EDIT: 5/28

Well, that was fun! If you missed the event, no biggie! You can see the video here. (I read an except from the book in a pirate voice, so that’s something.)

Pirates! Penguins! Prizes!

No matter how colorfully you paint one, a penguin will never be a parrot.

I have another book coming out!

About a pirate!

And a penguin!

It’s titled Pirate & Penguin! (Titles are hard.)

The story is about a penguin who slips off his iceberg onto the poop deck of a passing pirate ship. The captain, perhaps a bit dotty from his many months on the high seas, mistakes the stowaway for a parrot and expects his new companion to govern himself accordingly. Penguin’s well-meaning efforts to talk, perch on Pirate’s shoulder, and keep things ship shape leads to mayhem. In fact, things get so out of hand, someone might end up walking the plank.

There is no feeling that can quite replicate the joy of opening a box of author copies.

Pirate & Penguin was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a picture book.

More importantly, I love the way the book turned out. (No one can do a better job at depicting seafaring chaos quite like illustrator extraordinaire, Jenn Harney.)

Pirate & Penguin has gotten good reviews, too!

“A pirate searching for a parrot and a clumsy penguin collide in this lively tale about friendship…. Inventive pirate speak and bright colors compliment this whimsical story.” —  Foreword Reviews

“An amusing romp that will have landlubbers and scurvy sea dogs alike giggling.” — Kirkus

“Although children’s library collections are not lacking in pirate stories, this fresh and funny tale makes its case for inclusion by using a pirate-ship setting to explore the nature of friendship.”  Booklist

And Page Street, my publisher, believes in this book so much, they made up a batch of P&P buttons!

Cute, right?

But here’s the best part:

YOU CAN WIN A FREE COPY!

All you gotta do is head over to Kathy Temean’s blog and enter the giveaway.

And who knows? You may just receive a wonderful work of kid lit—a prize at least as valuable as a medium-sized chest of buccaneer booty.

So go. Good luck. I’ll be rooting for you.

More Monkey Business

On this blog I’ve mentioned my mom’s pesky habit of dumping her unwanted crap on me. She has done this through a combination of smooth talking and brute force.

This is why I own a worthless statue of Don Quixote, a pair of worthless West German beer steins, and a terrible watercolor painting of a ten-speed bike.

And then there is the charcoal chimp. I made this drawing when I was 10. Upon completion, I named him Bonzo.

I’m not sure why I decided to draw a chimp. Maybe I liked the pensive expression on his face. Maybe he seemed easy to draw. I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that I hate chimps. Unlike other primates—like orangutans or silverback gorillas—chimps are mean. They’ll rip your face off just as soon as look at you. Curious George was a chimp, I believe, and he was an agent of chaos wherever he went.  If I had any influence in the Curious George universe, I would’ve euthanized the chimp and sentenced The Man in the Yellow Hat to 30 years of hard labor.  

But I digress. The point is, I drew Bonzo even though I hate chimps and gave Bonzo to Mom even though she doesn’t like chimps either. But Mom’s opinion on chimps doesn’t matter; according to an ironclad unwritten law, all moms are supposed to hang onto every piece of art crap their children make like it’s a little treasure. And they are supposed to continue doing this for the rest of their lives. 

These are the rules, people. I don’t make them, I just follow them.

But Mom flipped the script on me last fall. I invited her to my house and she brought Bonzo with her. Then she said something along the lines of, “If you don’t want it, get rid of it, but it’s not going back home with me.”

It was the ultimate Mom betrayal.

A few months later Christmas arrived. Mom gave my son, Alex, tickets to a Devils game. And it was through her generosity, I decided to give a Christmas gift to myself.

Long story short, as Mom and Alex were shouting themselves hoarse at a hockey game, I let myself into Mom’s condo, artfully hung Bonzo in the guest bedroom, and took my leave.

Mom doesn’t spend much time in the guest bedroom, so she didn’t notice Bonzo for a while.

About a week later I got the call.

Mom dispensed with the pleasantries. There was no “Hello.” No “What’s new?” No “Do you have a minute to talk?”

Instead, the first words out of her mouth was a hard edged, “Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be, huh?”

And I laughed for the next three days.

But my laughter was masking my fear. I know my mother. I know her tone. I had fired an opening salvo in the Crap Wars, and I would pay for my audacity.

The retaliation has not happened yet, but I know it’s coming. Germans are a cold people, and everyone knows that that is the best way to dispense revenge.

I need to set up defenses. Trenches. Maginot lines.

But I know it won’t matter.

A Blitzkrieg of crap will soon arrive on my doorstep. I see no way to prevent it.

Mom, come hell or high water, will make a monkey out of me.