Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We love Greenwich Village, NY!

Today, Child #4 and I headed to Greenwich Village for a walking food and cultural tour. In three syllables, is was FAN-TAS-TIC! Seriously, I would recommend this in a New York minute! We sampled; we walked; we learned; we made new friends; we had fun.

Below is a teeny-tiny bit of what we experienced.

Meet Cherry Lane Theatre, located in Greenwich Village. It's an off-off-broadway theatre. So, what makes a theatre "broadway," "off-broadway," or "off-off-broadway"?

Answer: The number of seats in the theatre. Broadway=500+ seats, 0ff-broadway=100-499 seats, off-off-broadway=less than 100 seats.

And look who's currently playing at the Cherry Lane? RICHARD DREYFUSS!

One of the several food stops on the tour was Joe's Pizza. In Spider Man 2, Tobey Maguire/Peter Parker got fired from Joe's Pizza. Joe's Pizza has been around for 30 years. They cook their pies in gaslit ovens that run 600 - 650 degrees fahrenheit. A hop, skip and a jump away on Bleecker Street, John's Pizzeria, which started in 1929, cooks their pies in a coal-fired oven at 900 degrees.

Neopolitan New York pizza from Joe's. What makes NY pizza so special? Apparently, it's the water used in the dough. This pizza was uberdelicious!

Greenwich Locksmiths. Sounds kind of boring, but keep scrolling...

A wall of keys! Some people are so creative.

An entire chair made of keys. Child #4 said it wasn't all that comfortable!

The Lobster Place on Bleecker Street, where the upscale chefs of New York City come to shop! Child #4 is staring at the fishy wares on display, a little grossed out.

A last bit of trivia: Greenwich Village takes up two square miles of Manhattan.

Oh, and we booked our 3-hour walking tour with Food of New York Tours, 212-209-3370. Highly recommended by both Child #4 and me.

Tomorrow: Random House, Wicked, shopping for souvenirs, ???

Monday, October 25, 2010

More from New York City . . .

We started today on an open-air double-decker Greyline tour bus, headed downtown to the southern-most tip of Manhattan: Battery Park. The weather was beautiful, and we sat up top. No doubt Child #4 and I brought this spring-like weather with us from California. When we leave on Thursday, we'll be taking it back with us. New Yorkers, you have been warned. ;)

Anyway, we learned all manner of New York trivia during our tour. I managed to jot down a couple of facts. Mostly though, I enjoyed the ride, eavesdropped on the Quebeckers sitting behind us (I don't hear Quebec French very often, and that's my excuse for listening in!), and laughed at all the tour guide's jokes.

Here's a little trivia for you:
-Manhattan comes from an Indian (Algonquin??) word meaning "island of rolling hills."
-Lombardi's Pizzaria, 32 Spring Street, was the first American pizzeria, licenced in 1905. Apparently, it really is good New York pizza. Child #4 and I added it to our to-do list, but I have my doubts as to us making it there. The list is too long for the number of remaining days.
-Disney bought the New Amsterdam Theatre (where we saw Mary Poppins) when it was still part of the red-light district of 42nd Street. Child #4 had a couple of questions about this!

The Sphere was originally located between the Twin Towers. It was resurrected from the rubble following 9-11 and set in Battery Park as a reminder. You can see how battered it is.

I took this cell-phone picture of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry. Child #4 got a much clearer and closer shot, but I forgot to bring the usb cable that goes to her camera. The statue is very majestic. There's so much history down here by the harbor; Child #4 and I are really not doing it justice. We could've spent our entire trip, poking around this area. BTW, the Staten Island ferry is free.

This is a street in China Town, on the Lower East Side. We'd like to get back here for a meal. And that establishment in the photo that offers back and feet rubs looks tempting. We've been doing A LOT of walking!

Here I am at the door of the Folio Literary Agency. There's something surreal about visiting a place you've only emailed and phoned. See the sparkle on the door? It almost looks like Sherry's mother (a ghost in the I SO DON'T DO mystery series) is dropping in on Folio with me. ;)

Rachel Vater, my agent, holding up a copy of I SO DON'T DO SPOOKY, which actually goes on sale in paperback TOMORROW! Rachel is as smart and vivacious as she looks.

Off to dinner we went. Good company, good food, good music!

Here's a picture way out in left field. Where do you set your American Girl doll in the restroom at the American Girl store? Why there's a special hook, just the right size for holding an American Girl doll, in each cubicle.

Tomorrow: Greenwich Village

My Town Monday: Dinner in New York City with Editor Wendy

Monday finds me in . . . NEW YORK CITY! Still having a Grand Adventure with Child #4!

(I do owe you a post about our Saturday experience on Long Island. Pinky promise, I will get to it. I've actually started writing it, but found I need a little more time to process the day. (All good, though.)

So, last night, Summy Child #4 and I met up with Editor Wendy and Loggia Child #1 for dinner. Very, very fun! And yummy!

We ate at Virgil's Barbecue. Right by Time's Square. Personally, I can recommend the shrimp and pecan rice. Summy Child #4 was determined to eat ribs (This girl likes her meat!), and since ribs weren't to be found on the children's menu, she ordered her first meal from an adult menu. Another New York memory.

Quite frankly, I was a little worried as this child generally EATS LIKE A BIRD! But not this time! So, I can also recommend the ribs. I happened to notice that the Loggia girls cleaned their plates, so I guess I can also recommend the fried chicken and barbecue chicken!

All joking aside, the food was great. And the company was greater!

the south side of the table: me and Editor Wendy. Pardon the wooden cast to our skin. My Blackberry's flash is strong enough to signal in planes at LaGuardia. It was very good to see Editor Wendy again; we last hung out during the summer of 2009.

the north side of the table: Summy Child #4 and Loggia Child #1.

I've wanted to make the acquaintance of Loggia Child #1 for a while. Her mother mentions her from time to time, so I knew she was an interesting person. Also, she reads all the Sherry books, and what author doesn't want to meet a reader?! And now that we've met, I can say that Loggia Child #1 is intelligent, articulate, thoughtful and a good storyteller. I hope our paths cross again. (Hmmm...I wonder if she knows her name is used in I SO DON'T DO FAMOUS. Perhaps not!)

Of course, an evening in Times Square is incomplete without a gander at the Naked Cowboy. Summy Child #4 was appalled. And more appalled that her mother took this picture! Editor Wendy assures me the Naked Cowboy makes more than enough money to buy himself some decent clothes.

Earlier in the day, Child #4 and I took in a Broadway musical: Mary Poppins. Beyond delightful! And we visited an obscenely large Toys R Us WITH AN INDOOR FERRIS WHEEL and an extravagant assortment of gummy candy!

What's on the agenda for today in the Big Apple? A Hop-On-Hop-Off Greyline bus tour. And shopping. In a brilliant fashion move, Child #4 "forgot" her jacket and, now, we must shop for one!

Happy Monday to you all, wherever you may be! Here's the link to the official My Town Monday blog where you'll find great posts about other bloggers' neck (or is it necks?) of the woods.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Child #4 and I take off for a Grand Adventure!

Last night we were BOO'D! yay! A mysterious person knocked at our front door, then ran away. But not before leaving a bag of goodies (Halloween decorations and candy including LAFFY TAFFY! Yum!) and instructions to boo a neighbor within in 24 hours.

Child #4 and I will most definitely boo a neighbor but NOT within 24 hours BECAUSE we left this morning for our Grand Adventure!


Today was eaten up with traveling. Here's how we spent our plane time:

1. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book was recommended by Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips. Fantastic read! I don't read as much as I used to; writing leaches into my reading time. So, when I get my hands on a good book, I'm very appreciative. Child #4 also read (Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell) and duly noted the minutes in her daily log.

2. We ate a scrumptious lunch, packed for us by Mr. Summy. Yes, we are flying Southwest--the airline that has confused a mini package of pretzels with a full meal.

3. Child #4 and I said "Blech!" to decimal places. They are not fun. Unfortunately, tomorrow's math homework is more of the same. Double blech!

4. We watched a couple of iCarly episodes that we'd saved to the iPod before leaving home.

Now we are happily ensconced in a super nice hotel by Times Square. A super nice hotel by Times Square, you say? Yes, thanks to a last-minute internet special from Travel Zoo, Child #4 and I are living high on the hog!

Look at Child #4 at LaGuardia Airport. IN HER FLIP-FLOPS! That child is Californian to the core. (Fear not. She did pack shoes and socks.)

Tomorrow--we're headed to Long Island!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In case you were wondering...

Yes, we do play water polo in the rain in San Diego. But with fewer spectators! Actually, most of our pools are outdoors. When I wrote I So Don't Do Mysteries, I did a lot of the plotting while swimming laps at our local YMCA. During the winter months, I had to knock frost off the kickboard before jumping in!

A thank-you note arrived in yesterday's mail.

It's from Child #3 and was written at the orthodontist's office, no doubt under some sort of duress. Still, I appreciated it greatly. Not shown is the photo of Child #3 sporting a big wireless grin!

On Friday morning, Child #4 and I are leaving on a last-minute trip for a whole week! "But, Barrie," you say, "you just got back from Kansas." Mr. Summy's words exactly!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Town Monday: Guess this Famous San Diegan

It's that wonderful day of the week again. When Mr. Summy and the children trundle off to work and school, leaving me in a quiet home. I do love my Mondays! And, for today's My Town Monday post, I'll throw out some hints, and we'll see if you can identify this famous San Diegan.

This person founded the La Jolla Playhouse. (La Jolla is a ritzy beach community is San Diego County.)

This person was born on April 14, 1916 in La Jolla.

He attended San Diego High School, then went on to UC Berkley where he majored in English and joined the rowing team.

He decided to become an actor, headed to New York City and was, at times, so poor that he slept in Central Park.

He was nominated for five Academy Awards. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6100 Hollywood Blvd. The star was stolen in 2005, but has been replaced.

And the giveaway clue: He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1962 performance as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

You've probably all got it by now. So, here's a photo.

Famous San Diegan Gregory Peck

Please check out these other terrific My Town Monday posts:

Debra of Skilled Hands posts about the birds in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Gabe Goldstone goes on holiday to Kelowna, British Columbia

Jim Winter posts about the sunset on the west side of Cincinnati, OH

And here's the link to the official My Town Monday blog.

sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Peck, http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Geography/San-Diego-11058.html

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hanging out at the Summy house

Congratulations to Child #3 who got his braces off! As a reward, the orthodontist's office gave him a gift bag filled with all the treats he couldn't have with a mouth full of metal: gum, tootsie rolls, popcorn, Mike 'n Ikes, chewy candies. Me thinks the orthodonist is in cahoots with the dentist!

Oh, and Child #3, please wear your pretty turquoise retainer so that your teeth don't drift back, thus marring your beautiful smile and wasting $2,000!!

Child #4 had some friends spend the night. Her mother, of course, hung out a little with them because a) these 10 year old girls crack me up and b) this is my target reading audience. Herein (I would've made a great lawyer!) is a verbatim report.

Friend A (pushing her hair off her face): Do I look vegan?

Child #4 (headed tilted to the side): Probably.

Friend B: You definitely look vegan. Remember that 8th grader at our school last year who was vegan? You look just like her.

Child #4 (nodding and staring at Friend A): Oh yeah, I can see it now.

Friend A: I know. I was looking at myself in the mirror yesterday. And I really do think I look vegan.

Me: I don't get it. What does a vegan look like?

Child #4 and Friend B point to Friend A: Her!

May something today bring a smile to your lips!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Regarding my recent travels...

Oh, the people I've met and the places I've gone...

In Columbia, MO, I stayed with my very good friend, Mary. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (North San Diego County), Mary and I worked together as speech pathologists. We've managed to remain good friends despite Mary's tendency to be TOO HONEST. Sorry, no picture as we weren't feeling photogenic.

I visited four fantastic schools in Columbia: Smithton Middle School, Lange Middle School, Columbia Independent, Gentry Middle School. Thank you to Scholastic reps Jenny Hagan and Karen Harris for setting up the visits, getting me to the schools, feeding me, being my friends. We were quite the team! An extra special thank you to Karen who sent me on the road to Kansas with a bag full of licorice!

Me and Jody Feldman.We FINALLY met in real life. I know Jody from the Class of 2k8, where she was our fearless Co-President. By the way, we're actually way, way cuter in person. Way.

This is a partial group shot at lunch at the Kansas School Librarians conference. Here is what I learned:


Yes, yes, they love kids and books AND THEY LAUGH AT ALL MY JOKES! There were many reading teachers at the conference too. Kansas school librarians rock! Kansas reading teachers rock!

Meet Juanita Jameson, a knowledgable, friendly, uberfun Kansas school librarian. Thanks for hanging out with me, Juanita!

Here I am with Gordon Korman. Yes, THE Gordon Korman. Thank you for the photo, Ken Harton, School Librarian and Photograher Extraordinaire, Great Bend Middle School, Kansas

I presented with fellow authors (in alpha order):PJ Hoover, Stacy Nyikos, Suzanne Morgan Williams and Zu Vincent.

And this was all last week. I was having so much fun that I really wasn't ready to come home. Well, except, of course, to see Mr. Summy and the kids!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Town Monday, the Oz Museum, Wamego, KS

As most of you probably know, I spent last week in Missouri and Kansas, doing school visits and speaking at the Kansas School Librarians' and Reading Council conference. (Don't quote me on the name of those two organizations; I could be off by a letter or a word or two!)

Thanks to my trusty Garmin (we're inseparable traveling companions!), I managed to find the Oz Museum (511 Lincoln St., Wamego, KS 66547-1633; 785.458.8686), on my way back to the Kansas City airport.

The Oz Museum in on the main drag of a little Kansas town. I didn't have to wait for many cars to pass before snapping this shot. The museum is small, but full of Wizard of Oz memoribilia. You can wander around or rent a self-guided audio tour for $2.00. The audio tour is also available for free right here on their website.

There were a few fun exhibits like this one, with excerpts from the book describing the scene.

A few bits of Oz trivia:
-In the book, the slippers were actually silver. Hollywood changed them to red so they'd show up more against the yellow of the Yellow Brick Road
-W.C. Fields was first choice to play the wizard. Unfortunately, disputes about money got in the way.
-Judy Garland so fell in love with Toto that she offered to buy him.

You know you're back in California when you can buy sushi by the pizza pan!

Mr. Summy and the fam were glad to have me home. Some of them (Mr. Summy, Child #4) expressed this more enthusiastically than others (the teens). :) However, everyone was pleased to get a fun Oz t-shirt with such slogans as:
-Dear Dorothy: Hate Oz, took the slippers, find your own way home. ~Toto
-Don't make me break out the flying monkeys.
-The flying monkeys ate my homework.

Please check out the links to the other My Town Monday posts on the official My Town Monday blog.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Book Review Club (October 2010)

Happy 22nd Book Review Club! This week, I've spoken to over 1,200 students in Columbia, Missouri. I had dinner last night with Jody Feldman. And today I'm on the road to Kansas for their school librarians' conference. So....my wonderful and kind critique partner, Kelly Hayes, wrote today's book review. Love her!

By Carolyn Mackler
Virginia Shreve is convinced her family would be perfect, if she weren’t in it. As she puts it, she’s “definitely the weakest link in the Shreves clan.”Her parents, sister, and brother are all skinny, good-looking overachievers. And then there’s Virginia, the youngest, chubby and totally lacking in self-confidence. Even as she’s about to get felt up by a boy for the first time, all she can think about is how she can’t let him see her flabby upper arms and stomach. And that’s just the first scene of the book. There’s much more shame and self-loathing to come. But despite that, Virginia is a strong teen heroine whom the reader can really root for.

She’s developed what she calls the “Fat Girl Code of Conduct.” Among her private taboos are things like: “Any sexual activity is a secret. No public displays of affection.” and “If you can’t sell him on your body, you’d better overcompensate with sexual perks.” The heart-wrenching thing is, as skewed as Virginia’s self-image is, it’s very true to life.

The irony is that her mother is a renowned child psychologist, but she struggles with body issues of her own. She’s a work-out fiend who thinks eating a tortilla chip will turn her back into the overweight girl she once was. When Virginia sticks pictures of waif-thin models on the refrigerator as motivation to lose weight, her mother tells her she’s proud of her. I think most memorable books have an ah-ha moment for the reader, that passage you relate to in a deep way because you’ve been there. That was my moment in this book. I really felt for Virginian because she hasn’t yet figured out how hypocritical her mother is and still believes the misguided things her mother tells her. It just shows how some people can help others, but when it comes to their own children, they’re no help at all.

When Virginia’s brother does something that changes everyone’s shining image of him, Virginia finds she can’t forgive him. In her quest to find out the truth, she discovers some painful truths about her family , herself, and her place in the world.

Ultimately The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is an extremely hopeful book. It shows us what we can achieve when we stop listening to Society’s pressures and tap into our own strength.

This book was a Printz award winner. It was also banned in 2009 for reasons of offensive language, sexual explicitness, and being unsuited to its age group. I say “Bah!” to all counts. We have a saying in the library biz: If a book is banned, it’s probably because there’s something in it worth reading!

Thank you, Kelly! As usual, you've written an outstanding review. And for more outstanding reviews, please visit the blogs below. You'll be so happy you did.


Linda McLaughlin: AND TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell*


Jody Feldman: CICADA SUMMER by Andrea Beaty (middle grade)

Sarah Laurence: BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver(young adult) Reviews by both mother and daughter!

Beth Yarnall: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins* and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by JD Salinger*

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by JD Salinger* (young adult)

Gary Dobbs of The Tainted Archive: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain* (young adult)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale (young adult fantasy)

Scott Parker: THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury (young adult)

Stacy Nyikos: SPEAK vs WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson* (a comparison of two young adult books)


Patti Abbott: STRANGLEHOLD by Ed Gorman

Beth of From the Desk of Bee Drunken: FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING by Deanna Raybourn (historical mystery)

Kathy Holmes: GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT by Stacey Ballis (women's fiction)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: TAKE A CHANCE ON ME by Jill Mansell (British Chicklit)

Thao of serene hours: BABY PROOF by Emily Griffin (Chicklit)

*Banned/Challenged Book* In honor of Banned Books Week, some reviewers reviewed banned/challenged books. These titles are marked with a *

Note to Reviewers: leave a comment if I missed you or made a mistake concerning your review. I'll rectify the situation the second I get a chance.


Monday, October 4, 2010

My Town Monday: Monarch School, San Diego

Guess what? I'm off in Missouri having a big adventure! Yes, yes, I have school visits today and Tuesday. So....my delightful critique partner, Kathy Krevat, is doing this week's My Town Monday post from San Diego.

Take it away, Kathy!!!

Monarch serves more than 600 homeless and at-risk children every year.

Monarch School is a very special school with a unique mission. It serves the homeless and at-risk students of San Diego County, providing an environment where these students can improve their lives through education.

The average age of a homeless person is less than 9 years old. With more than 2,200 homeless children in San Diego, the need to serve them is critical. Monarch serves more than 600 children every year, 4-18 years old in grades K-12.

Monarch is a collaboration of the County and the Community – the San Diego County Office of Education and the nonprofit Monarch School Project, a 501(c)(3). The county provides teachers and an accredited education and the community provides healthcare, clothes and food along with the support and enrichment programs that give these students a chance to break their cycle of poverty and homelessness.

Monarch’s proud 2009 graduates are all continuing their education.

One of the latest and greatest achievements for Monarch School is the opening of a new library enabling their students to check out books for the first time in the school’s twenty-one year history. Stacy Bermingham, school reading specialist, noted that without an address, students can’t get a library card, so it’s critical to have a library on campus. Books are still needed. Donations of Barnes and Noble or other bookstore cards can be sent to Stacy Marshall, Monarch School, 808 West Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101. Be sure to include your name and address. If you have books you'd like to donate, email Lety Direen, Monarch School Librarian.

My daughters belong to a wonderful community service organization called J*Company’s Artists Taking Action which enables high school students to use their artistic skills to help their community. They are coordinating The Comedy Improv Show to raise funds benefiting the Monarch School. Improv teams from Canyon Crest Academy and La Costa Canyon High School will provide a hilarious, family-friendly improvisational comedy show where the two teams will compete for your laughs. The show will enable Monarch School students to attend J*Company youth theater shows.

If you like Whose Line Is It Anyway?, you’ll LOVE the Comedy Improv Show!

What: Improv comedy show (family entertainment) to benefit Monarch School
When: Saturday, October 9th at 8:00 p.m.
Where: David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family JCC, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, 4126 Executive Drive, UTC/La Jolla, CA 92037. Take highway 5 south to Genesee and turn south; the JCC will be on your right in 1.3 miles.
How much: $10

Thanks, Kathy! Please check out the links to the other My Town Monday posts on the official My Town Monday blog.