Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alyssa the Woman Wonder

My editor for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman was the incomparable Alyssa Mito Pusey at Charlesbridge.

Alyssa is like Batman (without the cave). Like Batman, she championed the underdog, which in this case was this project. Like Batman, she was not afraid, which in this case means she stood by the book—and me—even when concerns about fair use arose. Like Batman, she trusted her partner...Robin.

Alyssa (whom I did not know previously) acquired the manuscript in 2010. Funnily, in 2008, I had written an article about the research I did for the book (an article that morphed into the author’s note). At that time, I was not yet ready to reveal the actual name of Bill’s granddaughter Athena, so I referred to her by a pseudonym: “Alyssa.”

Given the countless alternatives (Amanda, Agatha, Alissa, etc.), that has to be taken as an omen, just as Bruce Wayne took that bat flying through his window as an omen.

One of the most impressive examples of Alyssa’s editorial prowess: in this image, she caught the fact that there was one missing line in the Chinese character for virtue

That’s some well-calibrated sonar.

In 2/13, Alyssa emailed me two photos documenting her work on the book. 

The “before” photo shows all the emails, layouts, legal correspondence, etc., collected during her three years of work on the book.

The “after” photo shows the final archive, after she removed all duplicates, “unnecessary” items, etc.

It took her a full work day to put together that archive. “Now,” she concluded, “it will live down in the Charlesbridge basement forever.”

Maybe she does have a cave after all.

Happy birthday, Alyssa.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ketchup books

I recently broke the story of how a peppy bunch of Colorado teachers asked a trio of authors—Alan Katz, Gordon Korman, and myself—to sign ketchup bottles one evening at a recent reading conference. Note: none of our books is about ketchup, or any other sauces for that matter.

However, I’m all for originality and, even though I was simply riding coattails of the two authors out of the three whom they’d heard of beforehand, I happily obliged.

It turns out that the ketchup saga did not end there.

One of the teachers brought the (squeezable) ketchup bottle into her classroom at Sandrock Elementary in Craig, CO, which shows how brave she is. We all know how much kids like ketchup. They should make ketchup-flavored toothpaste.

She relayed the following: “The kids…are very excited about the ketchup. We showed them…books that the three of you have written. They have started calling all of them ketchup books. When we did a poem for shared read this week they thought that it was much more exciting because of it. I had a boy in my class ask the librarian if she had any of the ketchup books that he could check out.”

She then sent us this wonderful photo, and gave me permission to post it. It is her class holding up not only the three ketchups but also books by we three authors.

I don’t know where this is headed next, but I do know it’s not the end of this condiment caper.

Same-day addendum: Teacher Allison LeWarne shared this post with the kids. She reported back that they were most preoccupied with the notion of ketchup-flavored toothpaste. This inspired a very interesting conversation which ended with the idea of mint-flavored ketchup. You tasted it here first.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

“Meet the Author,” Fairfax (VA) schools

On 10/4/12, I was interviewed for a TV show called Meet the Author.

From where I sat, it was called Meet the Students. During the half-hour program, I answered questions from the host and from students in the Fairfax, VA, school system. The students were not in the studio, but their questions were posed live, by Skype.

The set was decked out in honor of Jerry, Joe, and Bill.


Here are select clips from my episode. I especially like the one about the scarab. And here is the whole thing:

The show is uplinked via satellite to Fairfax Network members, broadcast via Cox Cable to over 300,000 sites in Northern Virginia, and webcast to school districts/registrants across the country. It has been running for years and boasts a prestigious list of past participants.

Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman illustrator Ty Templeton was also on TV, in Canada:

For (free) Meet the Author registration, click that link. For more info or help, contact Faithe Smith at

Saturday, February 23, 2013

“Bill the Boy Wonder” second printing, with corrections

In January 2013, Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman entered its second printing with a few dents smoothed out.

In the acknowledgments, we…

…deleted a duplicate mention (Bill Schelly)
…added an inexcusable oversight (Robert Porfirio)
…changed “Dave Kraft” to “David Anthony Kraft”

On the endsheet we corrected the last word of the Bill Finger quotation from “story” to...

And on the back cover, we added select review excerpts (as chosen by sales and marketing).

We did not update the ending to say that Bill’s name has officially been added to the Batman credit line...but maybe for the third printing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Return to Randolph

In 3/10, I made my first trip to Alabama to speak at Randolph School in Huntsville.

I was honored to be invited back, especially since the school wanted to tie themes of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman into their character development initiatives.

My time at Randolph comprised three talks—two (different) writing workshops and one assembly for grades 5-8. I simply love unfurling the tragic story of Bill Finger to young people because they are fascinated (and often moved) to hear that the life of a figure as popular as Batman was anything but easy.

A highlight of the day was partaking in Randolph’s generosity. Last time, they donated one of the three sessions they were paying for to a nearby school that did not have funds for enrichment. It was the first (and still only) time a school I’ve gone to has done that.

This time, they exceeded that generosity by again donating one of my sessions to an underprivileged school, but this time, they brought some of their own students along. By campus van, my host (and college friend) Jon Bluestein drove me and thirteen fifth graders who are avid readers to University Place Elementary. I ran a writing workshop for this combined group and I was elated to see that the UP kids were also eager to participate. The Randolph kids and the UP kids were even mixed up so each group could get to know the other a bit more (though we admittedly had almost no downtime for that).

Thank you again, Randolph, for this unique experience. I remain hopeful that other schools of means will take Randolph’s lead. It provides a lesson more powerful than a locomotive.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

“Will fascinate” (PLUS: torch singer!)

The Jewish Book Council, whose speaking roster I am on this year, reviewed Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

I especially appreciated these observations:

“His identity remains unknown—no longer”

“structured around revealed secrets”

“the content, mood and vocabulary will appeal to readers over age 10”

“Nobleman has made a cottage industry of bittersweet revelations about Jewish comic inventors; if he were a singer, he would do torch songs”

“There is a light touch for targeted readers—Finger used puns writing about Batman, and Nobleman uses puns writing about Finger”

“The concluding author’s note is geared too old for young readers but will fascinate their parents”

“Readers will feel proud of their heritage; Finger is a role model who provides a strong, if not happy, life lesson”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar meets Batman

On 2/16/13, I was honored to return to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, to speak.

Last time was on Superman (no known photos exist of this appearance), this time Batman. I was luckier than Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, who were scheduled for the Saturday prior, which ended up being canceled due to Nemo madness.

But my attempt to get there was not without obstacles.

First, my 5:25 a.m. Super Shuttle pickup was 30 minutes late. I still got to the airport in time—not that it ended up mattering.

My first leg (Washington to Philadelphia), scheduled for a 7:30 departure, did not leave till a bit after 8:30. My second leg (Philadelphia to Hartford) was even more troubled. The plane we were supposed to fly had a mechanical issue so we were put on another. Once seated, we were informed that that plane also had a mechanical issue, so we deplaned and boarded yet another.

This meant we left almost two hours later than planned.

This meant I would be late for my 1 p.m. presentation. It was not a certainty that anyone would notice, but I regretfully let my host know anyway.

Luckily, the Carle, as they call it, is no stranger to travel complications, and they nimbly pushed back the event an hour.

Equally luckily, the people who showed up were flexible, too.

After, I signed books and the Carle guest book; though I could not make out all the signatures, I still knew I was in esteemed company.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Best of the blog 2012

This blog launched on 2/19/08.

Every February 19, I share what I feel have been the best posts of the previous twelve months.

This year
's winners: 



Monday, February 18, 2013

Bill, the girls wonder

They say write what you know and know your audience.

I like to write what I don’t know and build my audience.

What I write about starts with a passion (i.e. something I know about) but there’s always more to learn. Research is an education for the author before it is illuminating for anyone else.

And while I do have certain types of people in mind as part of the likely audience for each book, I also work hard to interest people beyond those preconceptions. Why limit yourself?

This may be a roundabout way of saying that I did not write Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman or Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman as “boy books.” I thought of them as “people who like good stories books.” And that, of course, includes girls.

But even so, I was still curious to discover the reaction of a group of fifth graders who heard Bill the Boy Wonder as a read-aloud: “This was a huge hit. The girls, especially, were fired up about the injustices in Bill’s career.”

They say girls mature earlier and/or faster than boys. In this particular fifth grade class, in terms of moral compass calibration, it does seem that the females have a head start on the males. Or is that typical?

The report from the reader, Katie Fitzgerald in Washington DC: “The boys had a million superhero related questions, but the girls all wanted to talk about how unfair life is. They actually fought over who would get to borrow the book.”

I imagine these girls wondered how Bill endured his struggles. How he let this happen. How he felt at the end.

Reacting strongly to injustice suggests empathy. Boys have empathy too, of course, but perhaps at that age, girls are more comfortable sharing emotion.

When I talk about Bill the Boy Wonder during school visits, I have not yet noticed a difference in the ways boys and girls respond to it. But now I’ll be paying closer attention.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sea World superhero skier Mark Gutleben

One of the water skiers featured in my oral history of the Sea World superheroes show who could not make the reunion in 10/12 was Mark Gutleben. He’s on the West Coast and is not working due to an injury sustained decades ago.

However, I got to see him recently anyway, via this photo he sent for the holidays.

He’s a really nice guy. I hope that there is another reunion before long and that he gets to go. I think it’d be great for both him and his former skimates.

Addendum: On 12/13/15, Mark passed away. To quote fellow skier Betsy Maher: “I’m sorry he was not able to make it to either reunion. At the 2014 reunion, I was able to have everyone sign a big birthday card for him. He had made a phone call to me on Christmas Day the past few years. I will miss his call this year.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Authors love Sandy Hook Elementary, part 2 of 2

Part 1.

After six weeks of helping to plan an unprecedented 17-author variety show for Sandy Hook Elementary School, and while en route from Maryland to Connecticut on 2/10/13, the day before the event, I learned that school had been canceled for the following day.

One thing we had not arranged: a raindate. (Well, snowdate.)

With heavy heart, at 5:31 p.m., I emailed the authors. As the understanding responses came in, I tried to figure out how to proceed. I arrived at only one viable option. At 6:42 p.m., after clearing it with Sandy Hook librarian Yvonne Cech, I went back to the group to ask who could do Tuesday, 2/12.

Originally, eleven of the seventeen authors could. (On Monday afternoon, one dropped out, and Tuesday morning another did, both due to illness.) That number was plenty good enough for me; I worried that if I tried to find yet another date, even fewer would be free. I felt it was Tuesday or never.

So I seized Tuesday.

However, we’d worked out a schedule for seventeen so I scrambled to round up as many A-list pinch-hitters as I could. As before, just about everyone I asked would have liked to participate, but they got all “I’m super busy and generally speaking 24 hours is not enough notice to prepare multiple acts and arrange to travel two hours away.” I kid. They were extremely gracious, supportive, regretful. Most said to keep them in mind if I’m ever involved in another event like it. (I hope I am, just not under such circumstances.)

Sunday night yielded no one. But Monday morning, alas—three signed on: Daniel Kirk, Bruce Degen (who lives in Newtown), and Vincent X. Kirsch. Bless them.

Tuesday morning. Two days shy of two months since the tragedy. I drove the hour from where I was staying to Newtown, arriving at Chalk Hill School (where Sandy Hook is currently housed) at 8:30. 

I was looking forward to hugging Yvonne and Isabel (Almeida, my United Way contact).

One of my biggest concerns was punctuality, but I needn’t have worried; all eleven other cast members arrived on time. 

 Tad Hills and Bob Shea in the nerve center

Tracy Dockray drawing Ramona

Tad Hills and Duck

I owe each thanks for so many other things and here are one or two per person:

  • Katie Davis—For stepping up and going first when the original opening act (Phil Bildner) could not make the rescheduled date, and for podcasting the day.
  • Bruce Degen—For stepping in at the last minute, and for being the hometown representative. (When I emailed him the schedule the day before—a schedule most of the rest had been familiar with for two weeks—he wrote back “The schedule is complicated.” He was right.)
  • Tracy Dockray—For being a trooper when we determined (just before the show started) that I had not gotten the PowerPoint slides she emailed, and for recommending Vincent.
  • Alan Katz—For reassuring me several days before that this was a worthwhile effort, and for making it back in time from a conference in Denver despite Nemo.
  • Daniel Kirk—For stepping in at the last minute even though his drive would be one of the longest, and for being the only one of us to play guitar, which I wish I could do.
  • Vincent X. Kirsch—For adding one of the most diverse elements to the show—a toy theater—and for jumping on board less than a day before.
  • Tad Hills—For being one of my partners at the second school, and for being the first to hug me goodbye. I needed that.
  • Susan Hood—For being a cheerleader from the start, flexible and generous, and for being my partner in what was likely to be the most challenging aspect of the day: presenting to the first graders, the group most affected by the tragedy.
  • Meghan McCarthy—For rearranging her work schedule more than once, for committing even though she’d be getting back from vacation the day before, and for providing one of the biggest laughs of the show: a YouTube clip of a (fake) flying car.
  • Mike Rex—For being a class act through and through, from agreeing to stay an extra night in a hotel when Monday school was canceled to buying me a drink after.
  • Bob Shea—For being true to his values, willing to make sacrifices to give a good show, and for closing us out with a wonderful sense of humor.

The eight authors who were in the 2/11 lineup but could not do the next day:

  • Phil Bildner
  • Sophie Blackall
  • Peter Brown
  • Brian Floca
  • Ross MacDonald
  • John Bemelmans Marciano
  • Julia Sarcone-Roach
  • Lauren Tarshis

We missed you all so very much, as did the kids. The school had made signs for each of us, which (along with our books) were displayed behind the performance space, so you were there in spirit in more ways than one.

First some of the authors visited with the kindergartners and first graders in their classrooms; we were told that these little ones were the most fragile, and not just because of their age. But if you walked in any of the rooms, you’d never know it. They reacted as kids that age do—they laughed, they called out, they got off subject, they were bursting with enthusiasm. They were, simply, precious.

At 10 a.m., we kicked off Sandy Hook’s first assembly since the tragedy—and possibly the first-ever author variety show. It was divided into two parts. Each 45-minute half featured six authors with back-to-back acts of approximately five minutes apiece, with a brief intermission so the audience could swap out (the room could not hold the entire 2nd through 4th grade at once). We kept it moving on schedule…mostly. When the second half ran long, everyone ran right along with us.

It was my first time as emcee. I introduced the show by saying the twelve authors and illustrators on hand had, combined, produced close to 500 books…but not all at the same time. I said we’d come in from four states bringing characters including the Magic School Bus, Batman, Ramona Quimby, Fangbone, Balto the hero dog, and Rocket the reading dog. (One of reasons I was bummed Peter Brown had to bow out at the last minute due to illness: I could’ve then included Chowder the Bouncing Dog. Rule of threes, baby.) I meant to joke that neither snow nor rain would have kept us from coming, but we are apparently not as powerful as postal workers and weather did sabotage Plan A.

I said the kids would see a side of us they might not expect. I suggested they think of it as Authors Got Talent.

I thanked the administration, staff, parents, and kids, and made special mention of my two pillars throughout this endeavor, Isabel and Yvonne. This was a significant group effort. Without their tireless help, it would have remained merely a vision.

Isabel Almeida, lavender shirt, Yvonne Cech

I announced our little gift: a bookmark for each student in Newtown. (Imagine it folded in half. And laminated.)

When I was up, I told the kids that it would be AWK-ward if I introduced myself, so I asked for a volunteer. Thank you again, Sam!

Tad Hills in action

Meghan McCarthy in action

Bob Shea in action

 Meghan McCarthy, Daniel Kirk, Susan Hood, 
Vincent X. Kirsch, Mike Rex, Rocco Staino

 Vincent X. Kirsch, Yvonne Cech, Alan Katz, Bruce Degen, 
Meghan McCarthy, Susan Hood

Vincent X. Kirsch, Tad Hills, Rocco Staino, and Daniel Kirk 
join the audience

The variety show went gangbusters. The first time the kids erupted with laughter, I felt that attempting this had been a [sic] right thing to do.

After the show, we (and staff) enjoyed lunch generously donated by the PTA, signed books, posed for photos, and listened to Principal Donna Page’s touching thank you. She said she chose authors as the first assembly because she wanted the return to some form of normalcy to involve teaching, learning, and reading. 

She gifted each of us a bracelet with an angel on it; a kind donor had sent many of these and Donna asked this donor if she could “pay it forward.” The donor agreed.

When Donna teared up, so did many of us, and it was time. I, for one, wanted a moment to let down any sign of a professional fa├žade and be a lump-in-throat human being.

 Katie Davis, Mike Rex, Daniel Kirk

 Meghan McCarthy, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Mike Rex, Tracy Dockray

 Alan Katz, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Tracy Dockray, Mike Rex,
Meghan McCarthy, Katie Davis

Then we split into three groups of four, bookmarks in hand, and from 2 to 3 p.m., did hourlong assemblies at the other three elementaries in Newtown. After, we regrouped at the lovely Inn at Newtown for a chance to sit, sip, and reflect as a group. Yvonne and several other Sandy Hook staff joined us.

People began to depart around 5 p.m. I was one of them, or so I thought. But then Yvonne, Mike Rex, Meghan McCarthy and I ended up staying. Yvonne opened up to us about what it was like on 12/14. It was hard to hear, but that doesn’t even come close to the edge of how hard it was for her to live through. We were in awe of her bravery and composure.

At 7 p.m., everyone left…but me.

I stayed behind to call my kids and tell them I love them.

* *

Thank you to Rocco Staino, who sensitively covered the show for School Library Journal.

And a similar thank you to the Newtown Bee.

I will never be done singing the praises of Isabel and Yvonne. Both of them had to deliver dispiriting news to me multiple times, but each did it with candor and kindness (not to mention sorrow). Yet it didn’t take long for them to regroup and try to salvage whatever it was that had just (seemingly) fallen apart. Their patience with my persistence was inspiring. 

It is to their great credit, and the credit of the superintendent and principal, that this event happened at all. I suspect even I would have declined the offer. Too big. Too soon. Too many bigger priorities.

The bookmark says “Authors Love Sandy Hook Elementary,” but who doesn’t?

En route home, I stopped at a Newtown restaurant for dinner and was still wearing the green/white ribbon the school gave each of us. The owner of the restaurant (who had no idea who I was, of course, or why I was there) came over, pointed to the ribbon, and said "Sandy Hook?" I said yes (without elaborating).

He shook my hand and simply said
Thank you.

The day was precisely what I pitched it as: upbeat, funny, escapist. Yet for this one moment, I will depart from that tone. I heard the following song the week after the tragedy, and although it is about a romance, it amplified my tears. Listening to the lyrics now (particularly the first verse and the chorus), it seems even more fitting. You’ll hear what I mean.

Sandy Hook, we’d call again anytime, no matter how much planning. No matter how much snow.

No matter anything.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Authors love Sandy Hook Elementary, part 1 of 2

Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, on 12/14/12, I was a by-the-numbers part of the stunned collective: I cried, I mourned, I signed online petitions, I emailed senators and representatives, I lost focus, I held my own kids close wishing I never had to let go.

But I was also desperate for a way to do more than these things. I wanted to do something that might, in some small way, directly and immediately help the Sandy Hook community.

So the next day, hesitantly, I emailed a bunch of kidlit author/illustrator friends who live within two hours of Newtown to ask if they’d be interested in proposing to the school what I called a variety show. An excerpt:

I envision a group of us going on the same day [to put on] a kidlit author/illustrator variety show and to play games inspired by our books or just games in general (kids vs. authors soccer/volleyball/tug of war/three-legged race). I have ideas. Sure you would, too. We'd figure it out. Whatever we do, we'd keep it low maintenance. They provide the microphone, we do the rest.

It was clear that Sandy Hook’s focus for the foreseeable future would be healing. I thought a group of people with considerable experience speaking to young people could bring a bit of that, secretly wrapped up in what the kids would see as pure entertainment.

Just about everyone I asked said yes. Some, bearing out my hesitancy, worried about the delicate and overwhelming nature of the situation, as did I. When—if ever—would be the appropriate time to offer such a thing? To offer anything? The only way to find out would be to ask.

On Monday 12/17, I emailed the United Way (coordinating relief efforts) and the public library to ask if they had a sense of whether or not I should pursue the idea. That week, the children’s librarian at the town library, Alana Bennison, said she thought this would be just the kind of event that could be therapeutic. A short while later, she got back to me to say that it was okay for me to contact the Sandy Hook librarian, Yvonne Cech. I left Yvonne a message.

Understandably, I did not hear back.

However, on 12/28, Isabel Almeida of the United Way called. She said of all the offers they’d received (including some from pro sports teams), the group the superintendent wanted first was the authors. She asked if it would be possible to pull it together for the second day back to school—meaning one week from then.

I said we were all prepared to be flexible…but given how many were involved, we would all be better off with a little more time to organize, if possible. On New Year’s Eve, after polling the authors, I suggested 1/14/13. Approximately twenty authors were on board. Two days later, that date was approved.

Two hours later, I was asked if we could move the date to February…now known as Hurdle #1.

I said that it would be ideal if there was any way to keep 1/14, but in the meantime I proposed 2/11…to Isabel only. I did not tell the authors that the 1/14 date was subject to change, holding out hope for as long as possible that it would not.

On 1/8, figuring I could wait no longer, I told the authors that 1/14 was being reconsidered. I asked them to please hold 2/11 as a backup. Astoundingly and luckily, seventeen of them still had that day available, too.

On 1/13, Isabel confirmed 2/11. I immediately notified the authors.

On 1/17, hoping that I would not be “too terribly upset,” Isabel reported that the superintendent asked if we could push back to later than 2/25. This was Hurdle #2.

As before, I held off on telling the authors—partly to keep group emails to a minimum, partly due to a weird mix of disappointment and hope.

And as before, I told Isabel that we would accommodate whatever works for the school, but pointed out that I feared that if we changed the date again, we would almost certainly lose participants who had already committed. It seemed statistically impossible that everyone would have a third proposed date free.

More to the point, in inferring understandable concerns, I sent Isabel an impassioned appeal revolving around this: “Our mission is to come and reinforce the challenging and critical work you are all doing every day and late into the night; we don't want to disrupt momentum but rather support it. We want to be part of the healing.”

For me, that night was fitful. On 1/18, Isabel called to say she had forwarded my email to the superintendent…who had then said we can keep the 2/11 date.



On 1/25, Isabel emailed me leading with the words “don’t panic.” She said that though the superintendent had approved the 2/11 assembly, word did not immediately reach the school…which had another event already scheduled for 2/11. Hurdle #3.

Of course I understood. What this community was going through is unfathomable to the rest of us. Still, I asked if the other event was smaller in scope and therefore possibly easier to shift. Thus began another tense period for me, but a relatively short one: by day’s end, I was relieved to hear that the other event could indeed be rescheduled and we could keep 2/11.

Rehearsals? Hah! Who needs them? Well, it would’ve been great, but it was hard enough getting everyone together for the actual show.

However, we were briefed on trauma guidelines. No loud or sudden noises. No flashes of light. No all-black outfits. And no mention of “healing.” We were already planning to leave that to the experts.

On 1/29, thanks to the logistical efforts of (my friend since fourth grade) Christian Campagnuolo and Jen Campbell, the design work of Tim Connor, and the production/printing by Balmar (all donated), we would have 1,700 bookmarks to distribute to every elementary student in Newtown.

Imagine this folded in half and laminated.

On 2/2, I spoke with Yvonne for the first time. She did not remember my message from 12/22; I did not expect her to. She was in the middle of an unenviable flurry of far more pressing issues.

It was so lovely to discover that Yvonne was as enthusiastic and easy to work with as Isabel. The three of us conferenced and refined the schedule I had proposed.

Then came Hurdle #4.

And this hurdle had a name.

On 2/8 into 2/9, the monster storm Nemo blanketed Connecticut.

Yet 2/8 was a Friday, and Yvonne had the foresight to set up the assembly the day before in case school was canceled—which, of course, it was. No matter, that meant that everything would be ready to go Monday morning.

Except we didn’t expect Hurdle #5.

On 2/10, as I was en route by bus from Maryland to New York (and literally a minute after I realized I had forgotten the flash drive with the master PowerPoint presentation on it), Yvonne emailed to warn me about the potential for a Monday school delay or even cancellation due to predicted icy conditions. Compounding the risk: Nemo was so big that, two days after, some streets were still unplowed (including the street of at least one participating author).

At about 5 p.m., as I was en route by train from New York to Connecticut
—so closeYvonne called with The News: school was indeed canceled.

I felt like the train had evaporated from under me.

Part 2 (with many photos).