Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 8, 2008

“Bookworms” at the Blue Heron Restaurant

Today I met Lesléa Newman outside the Blue Heron This wonderful restaurant, in conjunction with
the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art hosted lunch and book talks for young readers and their families.

One happy girl came with friends to celebrate her seventh birthday. Just before lunch, one boy had a short meltdown. I joined his mom in trying to offer cheerful thoughts as we waited to be served.
“Do you like ketchup?” I asked.
“No!” he said. “It’s messy and sour.”

Things picked up after pink lemonade, gourmet mac and cheese, and much more. Quilts were spread on the top floor of the elegantly restored town hall and the children invited to take off their shoes or not. Erica Verrillo read from Alyssa’s Quest, and Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi a great storyteller, told the children that since she didn’t use books, they’d get a chance to create pictures in their minds. This worked so well that one little boy raised his hand amid story to ask, “Was the elephant VERY big?”

I talked loud and fast (before ice cream sundaes) about a few women in history, and told the story behind Aani and the Tree Huggers. The children gave great reasons for saving trees, including that we need them for fruit, and to make fires, and to get oxygen, and to climb, and because they are beautiful.

After reminding the children that monsters were not real, David Costello drew one using suggestions, following just two rules: not too scary and not too gross.

Then he and his goblin answered questions.

A highlight was when two young women greeted Lesléa Newman (on the left) and asked her to sign Heather Has Two Mommies. One said she had grown up with the picture book, first published in 1989. Both beaming women said they hope to read it to their children one day.



  1. Oh, too bad I couldn’t sit in to hear you tell the story behind Aani and the Tree Huggers! I just read it twice in a row. What a beautiful story and the illustrations are gorgeous. This will be one for gifts!

  2. Yes, you might have enjoyed chiming in with the kids when it is time to say, “Namaste.”
    Thank you SO much for the kind words. The illustrations were not at all what I had in my mind when I wrote it, but a brilliant surprise. Pinto said that some of his paintbrushes had just three hairs to get that detail. And we talk some about how those bold colors come from some plants that were endangered.

  3. Sounds like a fabulous day, Jeannine! Wish I could have been there. I’m not much of a ketchup fan, either :).

  4. it would have been great to see you, Kim. Those french fries were fantastic, with or without ketchup. They also offered truffle mayonnaise. I don’t see that every day.

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