Three Late-Summer Reading Recommendations

When Sterling Kids released its fall catalog, I was happy to discover that not only was HOW TO FEED YOUR PARENTS in there, and not only was it one of the publisher’s lead titles, it was the first book featured, right there on page 2!

Even more exciting (OK, as exciting) are the other titles coming from fellow Sterling authors throughout the season. I feel like I’m part of some cool club now, or the Sterling Publishing Class of 2018. We should get nicknames and sign each other’s books with “KIT! 2 COOL 2 BE 4 GOTTEN!”

With my own book coming out Aug. 7, I’ll be sharing the (technically autumn, for some reason?) book spotlight with some really fun titles, including:

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MISSION DEFROSTABLE: by the hilarious-with-words Josh Funk and illustrated by the hilarious-with-pictures Brendan Kearney. The breakfast-centric Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast books are silly and clever and have a rhythm and meter that makes every line feel deliciously natural. (I love finding rhyming books like these where no words feel forced for the sake of an ending sound.) This third in the series promises to bring more of that sweet, sweet humor to the breakfast table in early September, when a deep freeze threatens our heroes’ refrigerator home!

 

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IF YOU’RE GOING TO A MARCH: by Martha Freeman and illustrated by Violet Kim. As a self-proclaimed “child of the ’60s,” Martha has championed peace (yes!) and freedom of the press (double yes!), as well as protested apartheid. She eventually became a journalist (like me!) and has upped the number of marches she’s participated in since 2016. I’d love to meet her, but in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for reading her book about what children can expect from constitutionally protected public assemblies—and sharing it with my own little rights-championing sign-makers. Oh, and MARTHA AND I WILL BOTH CELEBRATE AUG. 7 AS OUR BOOK BIRTHDAY!

 

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THE BOOK DRAGON: by Kell Andrews and illustrated by Éva Chatelain. My favorite animal is the dragon (which, when I tell kids, tends to prompt follow-up conditions of “no, real animal,” to which I answer “megalodon,” which brings the inevitable “no, living animal,” to which I say “sharks”). It’s probably very obvious that I also love books, so there’s no way I can adequately convey here how very excited I am for both dragons and books to appear in this title. Considering that the hero here is also a strong and smart girl, I can’t see how this story could possibly be any better. I’ll have to wait till early October to discover exactly how the plucky Rosehilda fares after she challenges the scaly beast of the title, which has been stealing all printed-and-bound reading material in the town for its own hoard. (I certainly sympathize.) (With the dragon.)

I’ll be sharing more Sterling Publishing Class of 2018 titles in the coming days, probably after the busy-ness of my own book launch week dies down! In the meantime, enjoy these precious last long and lazy days for reading before school starts …

 

 

 

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This Children’s Encyclopedia Has Ways of Making You Talk

Graphical depiction of one of the five main senses? Or graphic depiction of torture?

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I came across this illustration in a children’s encyclopedia at my kids’ school library and winced. I mean, I get what they’re going for here, but … nah.

It looks like something you’ve have to endure to prove your humanity to the Bene Dessert in Dune. I’d get the Gom Jabbar for sure. (Bonus points if you get the reference.)

Needles and Ink (and Something to Drink)

You don’t have plans for Friday, July 13, right? Tune in at 6 p.m. (Pacific) to watch me sip something fancy and plan a cross-stitch pattern with the amazing Mike Reynolds of Everyday Girl Dad and Masculinity Makeover.

Mike started his live Cocktails and Cross-Stitch series a while back, after he decided to finally take a stab at a new hobby and wanted to invite guests from various backgrounds to chat with him as he further developed his talents and repertoire. Is that a cross-stitch term? I’m saying it is.

Recent guests have discussed women in the film industry, childhood and grief, and feminism. (Just about every episode has a healthy dose of feminism, actually.)

For our segment, we’ll be talking about comics that kids and adults should be reading, and I’ll probably steer the conversation a bit into kid lit, because how can I not? There are so, so many awesome things to be reading and discussing these days.

Think comics sound a bit fluffy compared to other subjects that have been covered on the show? Tune in and find out how wrong you are …

Cross Stitch

New Look, New Focus … New Book!

HOW TO FEED YOUR PARENTS COVER

*clears throat*

Um, hi. Remember me? The guy who couldn’t draw hands?

Yeah, so … I’m back. With news!

I stopped blogging some time ago, but don’t be mad! It was for a good reason!

In the years since I last freshened this blog with a promise to post more, I got a new job, moved hundreds of miles, and wrote a book. A book that a publisher wanted to publish. A book that a publisher is going to publish. On Aug. 7, 2018. That’s this year!

It’s called HOW TO FEED YOUR PARENTS, and it’s got illustrations from an amazing artist named Hatem Aly, and a recipe in the back, and I can’t wait for you to read it—even if I am jealous that Hatem is perfectly capable (talented, even!) at drawing hands.

Anyway, expect to be hearing more from me now, because I have a lot to say. Not just about being a father and writer, but about the world of books and authors and all that great stuff.

Feel free to bail if that sounds boring or tag along for the ride if it sounds interesting. I hope you stick with me, because *SPOILER ALERT* it’s going to be fun.

And if, you know, you have any interest in pre-ordering HOW TO FEED YOUR PARENTS, you can do so at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. I won’t be making sales pitches often on the blog, but I will from time to time note when and where the book is available, for obvious reasons.

Thanks!

RYAN

 

License to Quill

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So … this happened. My wife and I decided to get tattoos for our ninth anniversary. Since we’re almost to our 10th, and since we recently discovered a local artist we like, we decided to make the appointment.

The image, in case you don’t recognize it, is a quill. It pairs nicely with my wife’s inkwell.

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My firstborn took the tattoos in stride. My secondborn, the 5-year-old, declared that she liked them, but not if they stay forever. “I just want you to be my regular dad,” she said, making me feel inexplicably guilty. “I want you to be like you were before.”

I told her that I love her even when she gets permanently taller, which didn’t seem to translate. After a night’s sleep, however, she seems to have come around, asking to see the ink and noting that she likes it.

A Midsummer Night’s Underwear

A Midsummer Night's Underwear

The first day of summer is one of my favorite holidays I never really celebrate. My win-the-lottery dream is to buy a huge acreage and install on it an outdoor theater on which I can stage an annual production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” once the sun goes down on the longest day of the year.

I still like to mark the day, even if I don’t have any particular revelry planned.

This year, my wife gave me underwear covered with bugs to recognize the importance of June 21. She gets me.

And now I have something to wear when I’m feeling a bit Puckish.

Summer Week: Little Women

Summer Week: Little Women

Since before my firstborn could talk, I’ve read three bedtime stories a night. Actually, my wife has done a fair amount of that reading, and sometimes honored guests (grandparents, aunts and uncles, favored friends) get the privilege, and occasionally the kids’ behavior has been so horrid that they’re told to go straight to sleep, but when I say that I read my children three bedtime stories a night, and that I have for years, it’s basically the truth. I am the story reader of record in the family, and while my wife is also a bookish person, I’m more of what you would charitably describe as book obsessed. A bibliophile. I like what books look like on a shelf and stacked on tables, I feel a peace settle on me when I enter a library or bookshop, I can’t get enough of their smell, and—most of all—I love the words inside: how they read, how they sound, what they mean, why they mean what they mean, what we can learn from them, what they’re telling us, what they’re not telling us.

I read to my children just about every night because I know that children who are read to are more likely to become solid readers, to gain advanced language skills, to be wonderful people (right?). I read to my children because I work in an office all day and want to spend time close to them in the evening. I read to my children because I want them to associate time spent around books to time spent around me, in a safe, cozy, loving environment. I read to my children because books are important to me, and my children are important to me, and I want my children to recognize the importance of books, as well as their own importance.

I read to my children because there are so many stories I want to share with them.

I read to my children because I can’t not read to my children.

Though most of this reading has been picture books and short chapter books, we’ve recently made the jump to longer books. We started “Little Women” some time back, but recently took a break from that to blast through “The Phantom Tollbooth,” which proved to be a great choice. My girls would chant “Milo and Tock! Milo and Tock!” as they were getting ready for bed each night we spent exploring Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, and all points between.

We’re back to “Little Women” again, which the girls are enjoying, though in a different way. There are a lot of large and archaic words and terms, and my now-5-year-old secondborn asks a lot of clarifying questions, which is fine and understandable, but also breaks up the flow a bit. I don’t mind. Much. Still, I wonder how much they’re catching.

We recently read the chapter in which Amy maliciously burns up her sister Jo’s handwritten stories, and my girls were scandalized. Perhaps forgetting their own daily squabbles, they shook their heads, tight-lipped, at the sibling-vs.-sibling battle. But when Jo decides to ignore her petulant sister and refuses to forgive her, my daughters gasped out loud. Both of them. Even if other stuff is going over their heads, they recognized the seriousness of this broken relationship.

I’m looking forward to many more books to come. My firstborn is already reading “Little House in the Big Woods” on her own for a summer book challenge, so I’m thinking we might try “The Hobbit” next.

What were your favorite childhood reads?
and/or
What are you reading or looking forward to reading with your kids?

Finals Week: The Lunch

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Thanks to the stellar math-a-thon fundraising efforts of my firstborn’s class, they get a pizza and ice cream party tomorrow on the last day of school, which means today’s lunch was the last I had to pack for the school year. That’s a big deal for me. To celebrate, I went with one of my daughter’s favorite sandwiches from our family’s first-grade menu: salami (nitrate free—or is it nitrite free?) and basil. She’s told me repeatedly throughout the year how much she loves this sandwich.

This morning, she whined about having to eat it, complained about the basil, and tried to pick it apart before I put it into her lunchbox.

My wife also pointed out that lunch responsibilities are now falling more firmly on her shoulders for the summer.

I, however, am choosing to remain in my good mood.

(If you’re wondering—and why wouldn’t you be?—my firstborn got 98 out of 100 math problems completed in five minutes correct. I don’t usually brag on this blog, but like I said, I’m in a good mood.)

What are you having for lunch today?

Return Week: Death Becomes Her

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While recently walking through a nearby cemetery, which we used to do more often but now only sometimes do, we discovered a gravestone bearing a name similar to—but not exactly spelled the same—as my firstborn’s. She was excited.

I had forgotten about the find by that evening, but a few days later, as we drove past the cemetery, she casually announced, “Look, there I am!”

I was creeped out to see her pointing out the window at a field of monuments and headstones, but I do have good recall and the ability to think like my kids, so I quickly figured out what she meant.

I’ve mentioned this particular child’s fascination with the macabre before, and instead of trying to sweep it under a sunshiny rug, I figured that interest can be harnessed.

Thus was born the idea for our Summer Mystery.

While at the cemetery, my firstborn also noticed a lone headstone in the middle of an otherwise empty section. This stone is obviously very old: weatherbeaten, spotty, and worn down. She wants to know why it’s isolated. So I told her our summer project can be researching the grave to find out who’s buried there and why. We can contact the cemetery district, the mortuary owners, the historical society. I figured it would be an educational opportunity.

Sound like a fun summer activity, yeah?