Tag Archives: brooklyn

Drawn In Brooklyn! Exhibition at the BPL

image: Sophie Blackall – Big Red Lollipop

As is now routine, I moseyed through the park and did my weekly grocery shopping at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket on Saturday.  This time, though, I wasn’t too loaded down with pickles and goat cheese, and actually had the energy to stop at the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

I’d been meaning to hit the BPL because, though I’ve always been a huge library supporter (it’s in my blood, thanks mom and dad), lately I’ve been in the bad habit of buying books instead.  But with student loans looming this November (it’s been nearly 6 months already?!), it is time to tighten the finances and catch up on my reading – for free.

I was disappointed that I didn’t find anything super fresh and exciting in the YA section… but I guess it’s good that teens are checking them all out. Next time, I’ll have to bring a bigger list. I DID get the chance to see the Drawn In Brooklyn! exhibition of children’s illustration – and that, in itself, was worth the trip.

Drawn In Brooklyn! is a 4-month long festival of 34 local artists, celebrating the borough with the largest concentration of children’s book illustrators on the planet. In close proximity to Manhattan, illustrators can network with the publishing and art worlds first-hand… but then find both community inspiration and a bit of creative peace back here.  No wonder Brooklyn is home to, well, almost everyone I admire.

image: Peter Brown – Chowder

In the vast display of work in the Grand Lobby of the BPL, there were many, many familiar names, including personal heroes (Leo and Diane Dillon, Ted and Betsy Lewin, Paul O. Zelinsky), current favorites (Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown) and former professors (Pat Cummings, Megan Montague Cash). Also, a few illustrators I’d never heard of before: both Daniel Salmieri and Sergio Ruzzier‘s whimsical, quirky characters made me smile.  Here they are below!

image: Daniel Salmieri – Those Darn Squirrels

image: Sergio Ruzzier – Amanadina

Drawn In Brooklyn! has events going on for months – so don’t miss out on meeting any of the illustrators featured – from now until January.

The Brooklyn Book Festival Re-cap

Where have I been all week? Sick sick sick. And when I’m sick I’m in no mood to blog, talk or communicate in any form – unless it’s to whine. So enjoy the post that should have been posted on Sunday!

Despite the grey and rainy weather, I had a wonderful time at the Brooklyn Book Festival!  I must have been super-distracted in September over these past few years, because who knew there was such a fantastic annual event celebrating books and NYC culture – just down the Fulton St. Mall?

I didn’t drag out of bed early enough (surprise surprise) to make the Jon Scieszka, E. Lockhart and Matt Barnett presentation, but I did manage to get myself to the Youth Stoop by the end of the improv-style Illustrator Draw-off! (with Mike Cavallero, Shane Evans and Vanessa Brantley Newton).  I spent some time wandering the maze of bookseller tents, and bumping into familiar faces such as my pals at Star Bright Books, professor Pat Cummings and Putnam author/illustrator Michael Rex.

Overwhelmed by the dozens of panels available at any given hour, I stuck pretty close to the Youth Stoop, and caught two really excellent presentations.  The first, Where Concrete Dreams Are Made, featured authors Laura Toffler-Corrie, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, and Newbery Award winner Rebecca Stead, whose middle-grade characters all discover adventures growing up in NYC.

As a new resident of Park Slope (and halfway-through the novel Prospect Park West), it seems like the issue of raising children in the city is a hot topic. I’m always surprised that nearly all my Brooklyn-loving compadres would easily move in favor of a big yard in Westchester or Fairfield. Yes, it makes me nervous to raise children in a city where there is less control over their independence, very different from where I was raised. But I find the “Little Boxes“-style suburban life to be bleak and depressing, and the country, while beautiful, to be isolated. I don’t know where life is going to take me, but raising my future kids with the diversity and opportunity of NYC seems like the best of all scenarios.

So, it was encouraging that these three authors and longtime New York residents, had such a positive outlook on childhood in the city.  When asked if there was a loss of innocence in urban kids, all adamantly agreed that’s an outdated stereotype. The protectiveness of parents in NYC, combined with the national media, mean that kids today are seeing the same images and can get into just as much trouble in a small town as in a big city (truth!).  When raised with the right values, New York kids are asked to confront real issues and develop a better sense of personal identity – in a good way. I totally agree!

The second panel we saw, Happily Ever After?, brought the discussion to a YA level with authors Jenny Han, Sara Shepherd and Lauren Oliver.  All of their books (Pretty Little Liars included, by the way) deal with the drama and growing pains of teenage girl-hood. So, with a panel full of adult authors who spend their days reflecting on adolescence, it begged to ask the classic question: are people always doomed to play the part they were in high school?

Again, the panel felt the same way I did: not… really. It is true that some people never grow up from the petty social behavior that plagues every high school (case in point: Bachelor Pad). But I think life allows too many opportunities to change your stripes if you want to. In high school, I was cast as a “good girl” and flew under the radar (looking back, I have no problem with this!). But even though I felt like I stayed the same person, I was perceived differently in college… and I played a much more public role. Maybe it was a change in confidence, or maybe just a change of scenery… but I certainly haven’t been my high school stereotype since the day I left Concord.  Hopefully, that’s how it is for most people!

Anyway, by 3 PM, I’d had enough reliving my childhood and standing in the rain… it was time to go home and curl up with a good book!  Until next year, when I will actually plan to go to these things…

Best Reasons To Go To DUMBO This Week – Part 2

After breezing by Superfine gallery to look at some original artwork, I noticed an adorable little shop across the street called P.S. Bookstore, full of rare, used and otherwise interesting adult and children’s books.  The independent bookstore may not be the place to locate a specific book, exactly, but it’s a wonderful treat to browse shelf after shelf of literature, past and present.  They even have a staircase for reaching the top shelves like in Beauty and the Beast!

Half an hour later, I emerged a  few dollars lighter, but with some very delightful purchases . . .

Purchase #1:  Fun little postcards of vintage Israeli posters, courtesy of the Farkash Gallery in Tel-Aviv

Aaaand it’s Hippo #25 for the win!

I call this one: For the Israelis, peace seems to have gotten away from them . . .

Purchase #2: Told Under The Blue Umbrella (1933, Macmillan), a darling compilation of short stories for “the children of today for their enjoyment” (or, at least, the children of the early 20th century).  I love the line drawings by Marguerite Davis, and I always find interesting the rhythm, movement and poetry that even a classic book can have built into the type.

One story, though, seems a bit familiar . . . remember the story of the little scotty dog, Angus and the Ducks? It’s in here, too!  While Angus was always a chilly reminder for me of a particularly mean little terrier that lived downstairs when I was a child, it’s still a great story.  I’d recommend it in color or black and white.


Best Reasons To Go To DUMBO This Week – Part 1

Why is it so cool to go to DUMBO this week?  To check out the new Picture Book Art: A Women’s History Month exhibition at SuperFine restaurant and gallery on Front St!  I stopped by the opening tonight and it was great to see past professor Pat Cummings, as well as other female illustrators from the BK, show off their latest books and original artwork.  The other five women are Selina Alko, Melanie Hope Greenberg, Aileen Leijten, and Meghan McCarthy, and they’ll all be doing various readings and signings throughout the month.

So if you can’t make it to the gallery to see the show (through March 14th), make sure to support a local Brooklyn bookstore – and local children’s book illustrators! – and attend one of these events:

Mar. 6 Sat. 10:30am GREENLIGHT BOOKS presents SELINA ALKO and AILEEN LEIJTEN
LOCATION: 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 INFO: 718.246.0200

Mar. 13 Sat. 10:30am GREENLIGHT BOOKS presents MELANIE HOPE GREENBERG and MIRIAM COHEN
LOCATION: 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 INFO: 718.246.0200

Mar. 14 Sun. 11am – Noon BOOKCOURT presents a panel discussion featuring illustrator/authors SELINA ALKO, MIRIAM COHEN, PAT CUMMINGS, MELANIE HOPE GREENBERG, AILEEN LEIJTEN, and MEGHAN MCCARTHY.
LOCATION: 163 Court Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 INFO: 718.875.3677

Mar. 20 Sat. Time: TBA GREENLIGHT BOOKS presents MEGHAN MCCARTHY
686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 INFO: 718.246.0200

Mar. 21 Sun. 4-6pm P.S. BOOKSHOP Group Story Time with illustrator/authors SELINA ALKO, MIRIAM COHEN, PAT CUMMINGS, MELANIE HOPE GREENBERG, AILEEN LEIJTEN, and MEGHAN MCCARTHY.
LOCATION: 147A Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 INFO: 718.222.3340

Mar. 27 Sat. 10:30am GREENLIGHT BOOKS presents PAT CUMMINGS
LOCATION: 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 INFO: 718.246.0200

Need another reason to go to DUMBO?  Read on . . .

New Job! – Nairobi’s Knapsack Toy and Play Gallery

On Saturday, I started my first day at the new job (which I found thanks to Pratt’s Career Services job listings, not Craigslist, thankyouverymuch!) – as a Party Assistant at Nairobi’s Knapsack Toy and Play Gallery!

It’s an adorable little boutique and play space down the road in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, full of multicultural and hand-picked toys, gifts, and other fun stuff for the 8-and-under set. My job, as Party Assistant, is to help out with the birthday parties that happen every weekend, from setting up/cleaning up to serving food, playing games and doing crafts with the kids, and generally just being handy.

For a first day, I think it went really well? It’s kind of a new experience to work with kids that are brand-new to you every 3 hours, and all of whom have parents standing around (not like camp OR school!). But all of the clientele are super-lovely . . . friendly, educated, diverse – the type of people that make me want to have some babies and be a hip Brooklyn parent!

The best part of the job, hands down, are the people.  I’m constantly meeting new families and getting to be in their lives, if only for a moment, when they are at their happiest.  It’s a funny feeling to be a part of a special celebration, 2-3 times a week, every week.  I kept thinking that I am on the brink of some great revelation about birthdays . . . I guess I’ll have to let you know when that happens.

In the meantime, check out my all-time favorite birthday book – perfect for the little one in your life who is about to get a year older.  And if you’re in Brooklyn, don’t forget to check out Nairobi’s Knapsack, become a fan of the store and buy some toys!

Birthday Presents by Cynthia Rylant (Scholastic, 1991).

Top Obsessions of the Moment

1. Wild Brooklyn Parrots

2. Missed Connections

3. Mocha Latte Art