Monday, April 21, 2008

"My Beautiful Mommy"

For those of you who thought "Mommy's Visit to the Tattoo Parlor" was an April Fool's Day joke (and I have to admit, I thought it was too, especially since I was the one making it), Newsweek reports that there is a book about Mommy's visit to the plastic surgeon:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.

Doesn't she look really, really pretty and sparkly? The book is self-published by a plastic surgeon wanting to help his "mommy-makeover" patients explain the procedure to their little tykes.

Yes, Johnny, carrying you around in my tummy for nine months, the last of which I thought my skin would break, and nursing you (see Milk Pistols) so long that my breasts came to be on speaking terms with my knees, well, that totally, totally ruined Mommy's body. It's all your fault, and I wouldn't exactly say you're not WORTH it, but Dr. Michael will make it all better.
Now playing: John Mayer - Gravity
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 18, 2008

I felt the earth move...

Yep, like a whole lot of other Midwesterners, my husband and I were awakened this morning by the floors shaking and the windows rattling. Now for some of you, a 5.2 magnitude earthquake may be just another day in sunny California, for us it was a pretty big deal. The epicenter was in southeastern Illinois, near the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone (which I'd never heard of before) and not the New Madrid fault. Apparently it was felt as far away as Kansas, upper Michigan, and Georgia. I went to the U.S. Geological Survey website to learn more about the quake, where I was intrigued to read, "...earthquakes east of the Mississippi are felt more widely than those in the west."

Now why is that? Do the mountains in the west somehow dampen the tremors so that they can't travel as far? Any thoughts?

In other news, I see Busby and Berkeley, as we have taken to calling our pond ducks, less frequently. I am afraid that she has found another spot to lay her eggs. I was going to take a video of the ducks for your viewing pleasure, but now all I have is an earlier photo of Berkeley, and then the fish wanted to get in on the fun, so here they are:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Safe and Sound gets a shiny silver medallion

My friend and fellow SCBWI-Illinois writer Beth Finke just won an award for her book Hanni and Beth: Safe and Sound. She's getting the Henry Bergh Children's Book Award, given out every year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA is flying Beth and Hanni out to Anaheim in June to receive the award at the American Library Association conference. You can learn more about it at Beth's blog.

Congratulations, Beth!

Dark matter

I think it's not an overstatement to say that it's quite a challenge to explain dark matter to elementary school kids. To convey to kids the idea that something like 95% of the universe is this mysterious dark matter and dark energy, I used this:

That's right. The stuff that we can detect--you and I and the world, the stars and planets in the universe--are represented by the colored jelly beans. All the rest? Licorice jelly beans.

The guy at Art Mart was very helpful when I told him I wanted to buy a mixture that was 95% licorice and 5% colored. I told him it was a teaching aid and commented that it must be an unusual request.

"Oh, you'd be surprised," he said.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I'll be playing a bit of blog catch-up today...seems like I've been doing quite a lot of that lately. You'd think from my silence that I don't care about the Jayhawks' win--but I do, I do! Or about Obama's Wright problem, or now his supposed elitism--not true! It's just that, sadly, blogging has taken a back seat to other concerns.

Such as: my visit to Havana. Hola, everyone! No, not that Havana. On Thursday I did a school visit at New Central Elementary in Havana, Illinois. Havana is a nice town of about 4,000, two hours west of Champaign on the Illinois River. They were a great bunch of kids, not to mention the teachers, administrators, and the PTO folks who coordinated everything.

Since most of my published books are about science, I talked about the importance of curiosity and imagination for both scientists and writers. As proof of my childhood imagination, I brought a prop:
Members of my family will remember that I once had a pet tumbleweed. Named Tumbly, of course. (My good imagination did not extend to names, it seems. We also had a pigeon named Pigey, a possum named Possie, I named my calico cat Callie.)

I didn't have my original Tumbly, of course, and tumbleweeds are not common creatures in central Illinois. But of course you can find anything on the internet. Sure enough, I found the Prairie Tumbleweed Farm in Garden City, Kansas. For $15-25 dollars (depending on size), plus shipping and handling, I could have my very own tumbleweed. That seemed a little steep. So I asked my brother Eric, who also lived in Garden City, if he could send me one. And he came through, with not one, but two, and I think you'll agree that he had a good time doing it:

That's right, I got a couple of rescue tumbleweeds. I'm trying to take good care of them. More visuals in the next post.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Milk Pistols

I don't have time to write a thoughtful post about writing or spring (although the ducks are still on the pond!), so to make up for it I give you an ode to breast-feeding by a U.K. all-women punk group called The Mothers. It's called "Milk Pistols," and it's a hoot.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Good news!

I just got email from an editor in response to my query for a new picture book, Mommy's Visit to the Tattoo Parlor. She wants to buy it! Hooray!

I've posted my query letter here in case you'd like to read it.