A Sweet Ride

Little cupcakes are a big deal—at least that’s what author Eric Luper has discovered with the release of his middle-grade novel Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, May), about 11-year-old Jeremy’s attempts to infiltrate the girls-only Cupcake Cadets in order to win a model sailboat race. Luper’s events for the book have not been lacking for sweets: here, he shows off one of the cupcake trucks run by Bettie’s Cakes, based out of upstate New York, and other cupcake bakeries have donated hundreds of cupcakes for his other book events.

Hitting the Ground Running

To celebrate the publication of her first picture book, Shoes for Me!, illus. by Mike Laughread (Marshall Cavendish, Mar.), author Sue Fliess decided to give something back, organizing a shoe-and-book drive, partnering with two nonprofit organizations, Soles4Souls and Bring Me a Book. Local bookstores, schools, and Fliess’s church served as drop-off points, and the author spread the word online. Fliess began with a goal of 100 books and 100 pairs of shoes, but in six weeks, the “Run to Read” drive collected 647 books and 651.5 pairs of shoes “Yes,” said Fliess, “there was a single shoe donated.”

Story Hour at the Strand

Longtime adult and YA book editor Robert B. Wyatt, who earlier this year won a short story contest held by the Strand Bookstore in New York City, recently visited the store to read to preschool students from the city’s Earth School. Wyatt, seen here reading Philip and Erin Stead’s Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2010), also treated the students to a $250 shopping spree at the store, using his winnings from the contest.

A ‘Run Away’ Hit

Last Tuesday, first-time author/illustrator Elanna Allen visited giggle, a New York City baby products store, to read from her debut picture book, Itsy Mitsy Runs Away! (S&S/Atheneum, May), about a girl’s determined efforts to run away from home, even if it means taking home with her. Allen, who has a background in animation for Playhouse Disney and Nickelodeon, is originally from New York, but is currently living in London with her family.

Paying Tribute to ‘Friendship’

Newbery Honor–winning author Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky) recently celebrated the launch of her latest book, The Friendship Doll (Delacorte, May) with a party at the Rosalie Whyel Doll Museum of Doll Art in Bellevue, Wash. Larson’s novel tells of a group of “friendship dolls” given to American children by Japan during the Great Depression; here, Larson shows off one of the remaining dolls, which is on display at the museum. Larson, who lives in Washington, also hosted Seattle-area booksellers at her home.