This week, Tuesday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m., at the Mount’s Berkshire Family Focus sponsored Books and Blooms program visitors are going to get two children’s authors for the price of one, and both are FREE.
Ellen Weiss has written at least 150 books, from board books to chapter books to middle-grade novels, fiction and nonfiction, silly and serious. They have won many awards, and have been adapted into a Disney TV movie and a BBC radio play. Two of them, “The Taming of Lola” and “Porky and Bess,” were named Bank Street Best Books of 2010. She loves to collaborate, and often writes with her husband, Mel Friedman. She also loves to rescue stray dogs. They always need a bath right away.
Weiss will be reading from her Step into Reading book “The Stinky Giant,” which follows young brother/sister sheep herders Pepper and Jake, as they try to persuade a very rude giant to stop dumping his stinky laundry water down the mountain, and washing away their sheep. The giant agrees, but only if the siblings can solve his riddle. They have three days to put their heads together to find the correct answer, or they (along with their sheep) will become the giant’s next meal.
This easy-to-read tale written by Weiss and her husband, introduces readers to basic science concepts (the 3 states of water) without even realizing it, while also bringing them along on Pepper and Jake’s journey to best the giant. Bright, colorful illustrations by Alessia Girasole add to the fun. “The Stinky Giant” is just the thing to keep young readers engaged and reading! Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy this tale.
Fran Manushkin is the author of many popular picture books, including “Baby, Come Out!;” “Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story;”‘ “The Tushy Book;”‘ “The Belly Book;” “Big Girl Panties;” and the popular Katie Woo series. Fran writes on her beloved Mac computer in New York City, without the help of her two naughty cats, Chaim and Goldy.
Manushkin will read from her book “Happy in Our Skin.” According to a School Library Journal, “In this picture book for young children, Manushkin celebrates the different aspects of skin. It has many tones, from “cocoa brown,” to “peaches and cream,” and sometimes distinguishing features like freckles, birthmarks, or dimples. Skin “keeps the outsides out/and your insides in,” scabs over wounds, tans in sun, and exhibits goose pimples in cold. While the brief rhyming text is occasionally strained, the large illustrations, executed in ink and pencil and digitally arranged, depict a mixed-race family as they interact with a delightful array of diverse babies, preschoolers, and their parents in their urban neighborhood. Adults kiss baby feet, hold little ones aloft, and snuggle with them. The park and neighborhood scenes include a girl in a wheelchair and Muslim and Orthodox Jewish families enjoying themselves outdoors. Among many humorous touches is a scene in which two youngsters display their paintings while readers see all the paint on the floor and walls and a dog streaking paint as it runs off with a brush. The story comes full circle, beginning with a baby, happy in its “brand-new” skin, and ending with parents and tired children, all “happy in [their] skin,” coming home after celebrating with “bouquets of people” at a block party. VERDICT A delightful feel-good story that will be welcome in most collections.—Marianne Saccardi, Children’s Literature Consultant, Greenwich, CT”
Manushkin also writes the beloved Katie Woo series, an easy-to-read chapter book series about a smart and funny — and good at getting into trouble, Chinese-American girl. The series is based on Fran’s great-niece (whom never gets into as much trouble as Katie).
I recently read “Cowgirl Katie” from the series, and can’t wait to get it into the hands of my horse-loving niece. Like my niece, Katie is “horse crazy,” and wants nothing more than a horse of her own — but her yard is too small and her piggybank funds won’t quite cover the cost. When Katie’s father surprises her and her friends with a trip to the ranch, Katie realizes she just might have over-estimated her love for horses.
This book has an “Amelia Bedelia” feel to it, with 3 mini chapters to make early readers feel like they’re reading just like “the big kids.” Katie is sweet, and a bit feisty, and I know my niece will definitely be interested in tagging along with Katie and her friends on their next adventure.
Books and Blooms begins at 10 a.m. and runs for an hour, with author readings and crafts to go along with the stories. The program is free and takes place in the Italian Gardens (on the terrace if it rains), but if you’d like to tour the house their is an additional fee. The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett St., in Lenox. For more information go online to edithwharton.org.