Since the kids had the best time ever seeing Jan Brett at the library last winter, when the Facebook told me that local author (who is actually a big deal nation-wide) Kevin Henkes would be at Barnes and Noble with his new book Penny and Her Sled yesterday, I knew that Dorothy and Cooper and I would have to attend, even though our Tuesdays are generally kind of nuts.
Before the kids got home from school, I prepped dinner (a carb masterpiece that you should make right now) and texted Ben instructions for using the magic robot function on the oven to cook it while he and the boys went to gymnastics. Then I made eight PB&J's (4 for a post-school meal to tide everyone over until dinner and 4 for lunches the next day because what the heck, I was already making a mess), left plates of fruit, sandwiches, pretzels, and cookies for Harry and Jack and bagged up the same for Dorothy and Coper to eat at Dorothy's dance class.
Side note: It was Halloween at dance, and they did these ADORABLE little dances, and I thought I was videoing Dorothy's jazz class, but I took 2 pictures-- one at the beginning and one at the end instead. I AM THE WORST DANCE MOM. (Cooper video'd hip hop, and it was magical).
old faves instead. I should have run to the front of the store, snagged a couple of books, and gotten a signing wrist band right then. Instead, I sat behind the kids and read my own book quietly, which was pretty nice-- not going to lie.
He read his new book, which is just as charming and delightful as his other books. (I have noticed, though, that his books are getting kind of melancholy and spare as he gets older and his kids grow up. This one, like Waiting, is about the relentless passage of time and how long it feels for little kids. It's beautifully written and gently funny, with no extra syllables, but there is a resigned zen quality underneath the words that really appeals to me as I watch my kids outgrow the world of picture books, Penny's wish for snow and her gradual acceptance is super meta, is what I am saying.
Then he drew some characters and focused on how much an illustrator can change a drawing with only one or two lines, something Cooper has noted about his own comic book character Tornado Man.
Cooper and Dorothy were engaged during the Q&A, and they both asked a question into the mic. Dorothy asked when Henkes knew he could make a living writing books (high school, he said, and Cooper nodded intently), and Cooper asked if he could remember the first book he ever wrote as a kid (a 1.5-page novel called Treasure about a lost dog) .
Cooper chose a chapter book about a second grader (I read this with Jack when it came out, and The Year of Billy Miller is an absolute delight-- perfect to read aloud to a k-2 kid or for a 2-3-grader to read on their own, which is what Cooper's doing, and he sped through the first 20 pages while we waited). Dorothy finally decided on the new Penny book, but it was a tough decision.
I bought them cookies at the Barnes and Noble cafe at like 9pm and then took them home for a thrillingly late school night bedtime.