Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Funny Books

Not funnybooks. (Those things from my childhood that I read ravenously. Archie, Little Lulu, etc.)

I'm talking about books that make me smile, laugh a little, or even a lot. 
Funny BOOKS.

I've just created a Pinterest board of books that handle humor well. 

I don't mean bodily function jokes, which I'm sure kids love. But I love sweet humor, wise-cracking or eye-rolling characters, descriptions which make me say Oh Yes! and even laugh heartily.

So on this Monday of IT'S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING, I'll share a few of the books on the new board.

I read this one a while ago, for inclusion in a Christian Science Monitor middle-grade roundup. You can see it HERE. I pulled it out this week while scouring my shelves for funny books.

 It's written by a fifth grade teacher, so you can bet he knows what kids love. The book is funny, occasionally scary, and the characters seem so real.

(I have been thinking a lot about characters recently. And the advice to know them well before you put pen to paper. I wrote about this HERE on an earlier post and linked to some good tips.)

 This week I've re-read MS. BIXBY'S LAST DAY. From start to finish. Well, to almost-finish.

(Spoiler alert: If you haven't read this terrific book, skip the next paragraph.)

Now before you remind me that this book is about somebody actually dying, let me say that I absolutely loved these three boys. They are each such individuals. They say typical kid things, that are truly funny. Their teacher was funny, too.  I've been putting off reading the ending and maybe I'll stop right where I am. The boys have busted into Ms. Bixby's hospital room and are having a picnic, which they've gone through hoops to bring to her. I know what's about to happen. But right now, it's squarely in my Love this Funny Book corner. 
Since the book received three starred reviews and lots of accolades, I'm sure everybody's read it. PS I was on a panel with John David Anderson once, and he's a very funny guy.

Two books I'm just beginning but know they're on my Pinterest Funny Books Board.

The cover illustration (and others inside) by Dan Santat cracks me up. And the book had me laughing at chapter one. (Very clever chapter titles, Kate!)

I met Crystal this summer in Arkansas. We signed books together and she had me laughing the whole time. Her workshop had everybody LOL. Can't wait to finish her book.

Next up, coming at the end of the month: Can't wait to read THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS. I don't know much about it, but I sure love that cover. Funny, no?

Speaking of Witness Protection (see above)... And funny.
Great line from a TV show that I wish would come back:

"I wanna figure you out myself. You're like a crossword puzzle with B.O."

                                        (Marshall to Bad Gang Guy, In Plain Sight)

An example of the kind of humor I like. A 4th grader made this for me when I visited his school. 
As he was explaining it, he had the whole class laughing.
He originally left out the L in Glory.  GORY BE.  
He decided it would make a great title.

Then he fixed it.

It's hard to explain what makes one person laugh and not the other, isn't it? 
But I'd love to know what books tickle your kids' funnybones.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Mississippi Book Festival, 2018

In Pictures!

I'm proud to have been a part of the 2018 Mississippi Book Festival. This was my third festival, and they just keep getting better. This year, with Ellen Ruffin's magic touch, there was a kick-off event at the fabulous Pass Christian Books. Our panel of kids' writers signed books and spoke a little about our books and then had the most fabulous dinner with Margaret McMullan and her family.


(Dinner was shrimp and grits. And a yummy dessert called Bayou Bites.)

I had breakfast early Friday morning at the bookstore and it may have been the best breakfast I've ever eaten. The tea! The view! Surrounded by books, I was fortified for the day ahead.
(side note, I spent a lot of time as a little girl on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, including a week in Pass Christian at Camp Kittiwake. The little town is so beautiful now.) 

First stop, with my new buddy, Rose Brock, who edited a book I can't wait to read. She and I headed to the schools in Bay St. Louis.

I spoke to two groups (over 200 kids!) at the Bay Waveland Middle School. (Can you guess this item from my Junk Poker shoebox?)


Thank you, Emily, for playing Super Hero Librarian. Really had a fun time.

 (Loved the t-shirts worn by many! The tech and lighting guys saved the day!)

And the winners were...

Next, Stone County, Mississippi. Thanks to Kathryn Lewis and the McMullan Family Foundation, and of course, Ellen Ruffin for making this day happen. The pictures from Perkinston Elementary School speak for themselves. I had a ball talking to these fourth graders.

(I love to recommend books. This time I recommended a few and told a funny story about my friend, Barbara O'Connor, advising me not only on writing but dancing. Here we are demoing a shuffle-ball-change.)

Signing books and reading books!

 Now, on to Jackson, to the Book Festival!

 (A different Middle Grade group was moderated by Clara Martin. 
Photographed by Ellen Ruffin.)

I got to moderate this panel of Mississippi-connected Middle Grade Authors. Jo Hackl, Deborah Wiles, Jimmy Cajoleas

Somehow Linda got left off the above photos, 
so here's a wonderful picture of her with James Meredith!

Loved the Picture Book Panel, and especially hearing Irene Latham and Charles Waters speak about CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR. The Book Festival folks gave a lot of copies of this one to Jackson school kids. So many great things about this Festival.

(I've blogged about their book, and you can read it here.)

(Sarah Frances Hardy, Margaret McMullan, and a wiped-out me at the end of a really fabulous day...)

 The book Swag

The Booksellers! Lemuria Books, the best.

Another thing I love about this festival. Being with friends and family. This year I didn't take a single photo of my family. But they were there!
I did take a picture of the supper my best friend forever, Ivy Alley,  provided one night. I told her all we needed was "cheese and crackers." 
(Friday night she'd served me and our friend, the fabulous writer Minrose Gwin, fried chicken-- including a small side of chicken livers as per my request, zucchini fritters, and I forget what else yummy was on the plate. Because, no photo.)

I did take a picture of my "cheese and crackers."  Ivy is a fabulous hostess. There was caramel cake, a gift from my brother and sister. Thanks, Jack and Jane!

On Sunday, I visited the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. 
This quote seemed appropriate for the weekend.   

Recap by the numbers:  300 kids, 2 schools, 1 bookstore, more-than-I-care-to-count fabulous meals:
A small sample:
Shrimp and Grits
Bayou Bites and brownies
Fried chicken
Caramel Cake
Vegetable plate (field peas and turnip greens!)
Biscuits for breakfast, twice, with bacon
Bread pudding AND pecan pie
Dinner at Saltine with family
"Cheese and crackers" supper