Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cooper's Favorite Author LIVE AND IN PERSON

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).
 As soon as class was over, Dorothy swapped her unicorn tutu for a sweatshirt, and we raced to Barnes and Noble where we were early enough to get front row seats.  And also this is where I totally screwed up because to get in the signing line (which, to be fair, I had no intention of joining because the mac and cheese was screaming my name), you needed to buy a book, and we brought our 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.
 Henkes' talk was lovely, pitched to kids but not patronizing and also interesting for parents, especially parents like me who are fans.

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 was rapt, especially when Henkes talked about how he aways knew he was an artist and was meant to write books.  This is exactly how Cooper feels about himself and how I remember feeling when I was a kid.  This is also when it started to dawn on me that I was never leaving Barnes and Noble, mac and cheese was just a dream, and I needed to get an effing wrist band PRONTO.

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) .
 Fortunately, there was a ton to do while we waited for our hastily-purchased-right-after-the-talk books to be signed (actually, that's not true-- the kids poured over the Henkes display and took AGES to choose their books and then the check out line was zombie-like in its inefficiency).  Especially since we were literally LAST in line for the signing.
 Dorothy played a rousing game of Yeti in my Spaghetti with some other kids and colored a little book about monsters.  Cooper paced around and thought about what he would say to Henkes when he met him and also drew him a page of Tornado Man, which was maybe the cutest thing he's ever done.
 OMG her outfit!  HIs sleeves pushed up!

Cooper told Henkes all about his first book, Garbage Truck Moves to Hawaii, and his Tornado Man series, and Henkes could not have been nicer, especially considering he had been signing books for HOURS at that point.

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.
They were so sweet and well behaved fir more than 3 hours during the dinner hour, after a long day of school and extra curriculars.  They're big kids now, and I feel like one of Kevin Henkes' little mouse people, aware that time is passing, and not all together sure what to do about it.

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