105 Ways to Give a Book

The National Book Festival: Now We’re Talking

I promised a review of the new book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, but let’s keep it short. Yes, even shorter than usual.

I liked Dooby Dooby Moo better than Giggle, Giggle, Quack and less than Click, Clack, Moo.

Short enough for you?

Maybe a little more for the kids in the cheap seats. The illustrations are, of course, perfect — except for one picture of Farmer Brown’s face that fell into the gutter. Which is ironic, since at the National Book Festival, Betsy Lewin specifically explained how she draws a picture to take into account that nothing falls in the gutter. The story involves the farm animals secretly entering a talent show to win a trampoline. The sound effects of the animals will make this a fun read-aloud, and it’s a cute story.

But back to me and the National Book Festival.

After Betsy Lewin’s presentation ended, and I found out that my husband was still looking for parking — an hour after dropping us off — I panicked. Yet another illustrator was due to appear on this stage in a mere ten minutes, and I still couldn’t take a picture. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I had my girls wait in their seats under the eye of a nice school librarian while I went on a frantic battery search. I knew I had seen a building that looked like it might sell tourist needs — like film and batteries. I speed-walked over there to find out that it was just food. If only my camera took mini-pizzas instead of double-As. I looked around and saw nothing that could help me. Giving up, I speed-walked back to the tent where the Kadir Nelson session was certainly beginning.

And as I walked, I caught a familiar face out of the corner of my eye. It was impossible... but yet...

“Mo?” I said.

“Yes?” Mo said.

I introduced myself, as I was clearly not a familiar face, though fortunately was a familiar name. At least as MotherReader. He introduced his wife and five-year-old daughter, and I explained about my hunt for batteries. He told me about the behind-the-scenes events they had gone to for his daughter. I told them about the authors/illustrators I had seen so far. I said I planned to ask Kadir Nelson how it felt to be Spike Lee’s beeyotch. Mo mentioned some of Kadir’s non-Spike Lee work and how he preferred it. I promised to take a look at Moses when it hit my library branch.

I asked Mo and family if they would mind waiting while I got my kids, as I knew they would want to meet him. They were very nice about it, and stayed put — but probably were having this conversation:
Mo: “It is strange that she ran into us, but she doesn’t look like a nutcase. Do you think?”

Mo’s wife: “If she comes out of there with two Cabbage Patch dolls, I am so outta here.”
My daughters were very excited to meet Mo and his family. I am pretty sure my seven-year-old would have taken his five-year-old on a Mall-wide romp. My ten-year-old was more poised, asking first if “maybe blue jays could drive the bus” (her little joke) then asking if he was working on another book. He told her that he was working on a sequel to Knuffle Bunny where Trixie is in preschool. He also talked about how his whole family got to be the voices for the animated cartoon movie of Knuffle Bunny that would be coming out soon.

He and his wife were very nice and very patient, but their daughter was ready to move on. To the carousel, to be specific. As they headed off, we said our “nice to meet yous” and went back to the Kadir Nelson session, already in progress.

So, in case you missed it, let me make this clear: My camera needed batteries. I went on a desperate hunt for them. A hunt that put me in the path of Mo Willems and his family. At the seven-block-long National Book Festival. With thousands of people there. And I run into the one person I really wanted to see. If that isn’t destiny, I don’t know what is.

Tomorrow: Where the hell is Bill? and Yes, it could get a little better.


Anonymous said...

Woo! What luck! I'm loving this story, too - thanks, MotherReader!

Not to be all self-promotey, but I reviewed Moses yesterday, and included links to some of the illustrations on his website:


or just www.kadirnelson.com if you don't want my input.

Bkbuds said...

How lucky is that? But did you eventually get batteries? Is your husband still circling in parking purgatory?

Geez, I need to go pop some popcorn before I tune in tomorrow. The suspense is killing me.