105 Ways to Give a Book

The National Book Festival: For Want of a Battery

With Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type on the list as one of my favorite children’s books of all time, I was pretty excited to see Betsy Lewin. I convinced my kids to be pretty excited, too.

“Can you believe it, girls? The woman who did the pictures for Click, Clack, Moo is going to be up on stage and talking to us any minute now! Wow, isn’t this incredible?”

I had them going, because I am that good.

She came to the stage, looking every bit like the nicest lady you’d ever want to meet. And since we had moved up to the third row, I was in a great position to take a picture. You know, if my camera had working batteries. And if my husband could manage to park the car and bring me new batteries.

We’ll get back to that.

Betsy Lewin told the audience that we would work on a book together, and she asked for an animal. Someone suggested a pig. She drew a pig going on safari and then gave us a sneaky lion in the bushes. But then a gorilla comes along and saves the pig... or does he? It was very engaging. So much so that twenty minutes later my seven-year-old still wanted to know what happened to the pig. I wish I had let her ask.

Ms. Lewin talked a little bit about her new book, Dooby Dooby Moo, and honored us with a little song to suggest the plot. But she didn’t want to give anything away, so she cut herself off. She did talk more about Click, Clack, Moo, and how the book was passed over by the original publisher, and then took a year to find a new publisher. But it was an instant success, going into its third printing in no time at all.

After talking to the adults in this way, she went back to the kids, asking for ideas for another picture. A cheetah and a chipmunk were suggested this time. And as she drew she would let us know how she would convey characteristics on the page. She asked the audience questions about the cheetah, and my ten-year-old got to answer one. In fact, she was the only one who knew that cheetahs don’t have retractable claws. So good for her.

Would have been a great photo, actually.

As the session ended, and my husband (and the camera batteries) were still nowhere in sight, I realized it was time to take action. And for want of a battery, I would find myself with something better than I could have ever expected.

Tomorrow: Dooby Dooby Moo review and a date with destiny.
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