Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“Something About the Author,” volume 278 (!)

In the fall of 2014, I was notified that I had been selected to appear in the next volume (#278!) of Something About the Author, a reference book published by Gale (Cengage Learning). 

Note: not actual volume.

I knew nearly nothing about this series but a quick search showed that it seemed kosher (in fact an honor) to proceed.

The book sells for $222 so I will be storing my copy at the library.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“Co-Creator”: the SECOND play about Bill Finger

In 2014, Roberto Williams mounted an ambitious play called Fathers of the Dark Knight, which prominently featured Bill Finger.

Less than a year later, a second production involving Bill is coming to a Rhode Island near you—and this time, Bill alone is front and center (if backwards).

design by Arlen Schumer

Co-Creator premieres on April 2 and I will be there, of course, a few days later. Check back for interviews with the director, the actor playing Bill and, incredulously, the actor playing (a nod to) me.

Let’s give the show a great reception. Order tickets here and now.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wordplay with Bill, Finger, and bat

Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman has fun with turns of a phrase involving the words “bat,” “bill,” and “finger.”


blind about this Bat
when Bill was at Bat
went to bat for


this Bill was past due


a Finger had a hand in it
put his Finger on it (a variation also on the Bill Finger T-shirt I designed)
had Fingerprints all over him
at his Fingertips
Fingers crossed
pointed the Finger (author's note)

did not use:

bat an eye at
Finger painting (Fingerpainting)
wrapped around his Finger
slip of the Finger
Finger on the pulse
Finger puppet

The last one came from this tweet:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Haverford School, Pennsylvania

On 2/20/15, I drove three hours to Pennsylvania for a one-day ski trip. On 2/22, I drove home. First thing on 2/23, I drove three hours back to (a different part of) PA for an author visit at Haverford School, and first thing on 2/24 I drove home…only to turn around and fly to California that night.

Haverford is a lovely all-boys school, and my superstar host was Carolyn Harkins (a friend).

I got to share a sign with donuts, a first. I did not, however, get to share the actual donuts, which followed me by a day.

The school ordered a generous amount of my books to sell during their book fair, and I’m told they sold most of them.

The only kink was that the projector conked out for one of my three talks—the one for the youngest students (pre-kindergarten through second grade). I thought it would be a challenge to hold their attention without any visuals for 30 minutes, but it wasn’t—which speaks highly of these kids.

Thank you again to Carolyn, your fellow PTAers, and the boys themselves for making this a wonderful visit.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

“If you take a bag of leaves to Kinko’s…” (Charlotte S. Huck Festival)

On 2/27-28/15, I had the honor of being one of the author speakers at the 19th annual Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival in Redlands, CA.

This was a triple win for me: I love the chance to speak, see publishing friends, and come to California.

In this case, I got to spend time with two of my best author buds in the biz—Peter Brown (met 2008) and Jenni Holm (met 2010). Got to meet some I’d previously only corresponded with—Avi and editor Allyn Johnston. Got to meet a picture book legend (and a regular in my house when my kids were younger)—Lois Ehlert. 

Lois, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Peter, Jenni, me, Avi

And got to mingle with many other lovely authors, attendees, and volunteers. Special shout-out to Andy, who escorted me to my talks, and Pam, who introduced one of those talks.

Lois (age 80) was a crowd-pleaser. She stood for an entire hourlong keynote and,
alongside her editor/co-presenter Allyn, served up one zinger after another while explaining her process in creating children’s books, many of which focus on nature.

A one-liner the authors at my table particularly liked involved Kinko’s. First she charmingly explained what it is in case anyone in the audience had not heard of the national copy chain. Then she said she keeps them in business. Then she said “If you take a bag of leaves to Kinko’s, you have to go early.” (Translation: fewer stares to avoid.)

 Avi, Peter, musician Emily Arrow (see below)

Allyn and Lois

Earlier that week, I spoke at two impressive schools, Kimberly Elementary in Redlands and Cajon High School in San Bernadino. The staff at both were so committed to doing as much as possible for their students, and the students were thoughtful and funny.

world cultures on display at Kimberly Elementary, Redlands, CA

At the festival, singer/songwriter Emily Arrow performed songs she wrote about Peter’s The Curious Garden and Lois’s Snowballs and got the crowd involved. She gives off an Ingrid Michaelson/Joni Mitchell vibe (which I hope she will take as a compliment) and I have a feeling she’ll soon be a fixture at kids’ book conferences.

During author Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s moving talk, I caught a glimpse of a book whose title inspired the title of my upcoming WWII picture book. Can you spot it? 

Probably not—the photo is blurry. The blue-spined book with yellow type is called Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

I received humbling feedback on my talk, including this:

And a young man named Gino was so moved by Bill Finger’s story that he whipped up this drawing, leaving a blank at the bottom and asking me to fill in a name:

While still at the 19th, I was invited back to the 21st festival. Of course I said yes.