Reading ‘Moore’

Actress and author Julianne Moore teamed with First Book earlier this week for a back-to-school event designed to promote reading. Joining Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book, Moore visited Harlem’s Round the Clock Nursery, where she read her new book, My Mom Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me (Chronicle), illustrated by Meilo So, about mothers who come from other countries, to pre-K students. Each child in attendance also received a signed copy of Moore’s book.

Keeping the Flame

Last fall Candlewick Press launched a year-long celebration of picture books to commemorate the Somerville, Mass., publishing house’s 20th birthday. Candlewick created an online video forum for Candlewick staff, authors, illustrators, family, friends, and fans to share what children’s books mean to them. And did they ever: the site has attracted more than 15,000 visitors, with 367 videos garnering 51,000 views. Here, author and illustrator Helen Oxenbury invites viewers into her studio, showing her early sketches for There’s Going to Be a Baby by her husband, John Burningham; Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest, and other books.

A ‘Spirit’-ed Series Launch

The new multi-platform series Spirit Animals, about a world where children are bound to and empowered by mystical animals, was unveiled at the Provo City Library in Provo, Utah, on September 10. Joining author Brandon Mull (shown here), who developed the story arc for the Scholastic fantasy series and wrote the first installment, Wild Born (Sept.), was Shannon Hale, author of the fourth book in the series, to be released in July 2014. Audience members were invited to bring their own spirit animals (i.e. stuffed toys) to the event. The Spirit Animals tour will run through October with Mull making stops in Toronto, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Philadelphia, the New York area, and California. The second book in the series, written by Maggie Stiefvater, will release in January 2014.

Big Piles of ‘Little’ Books

When cousins Isabella Thorsden, age eight, and Isabelle Busath, age 10, composed their ‘Book of Rules’ in a spiral-bound notebook, they didn’t foresee misplacing it in a parking lot; they certainly didn’t imagine they’d get the notebook back; and they definitely couldn’t have guessed that losing the notebook would result in a book deal. But when the Walmart employee who found the book containing 157 handwritten “rules” attempted to find the owners – and the story was picked up by national news – Simon & Schuster editor Lisa Rao not only tracked down Busath and Thorsden, but offered them a publishing contract. The book, which features illustrations by Priscilla Burris, will be released in October. Here, Thorsden marvels at a stack of published copies of Isabelle & Isabella’s Little Book of Rules, which are en route to Toys R Us – but not before the co-authors sign them.

Flying High

Author Alexis O’Neill (center) celebrated the release of her picture book The Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge (Calkins Creek/Boyds Mill) fittingly: by flying kites with fellow authors (from l.: Tina Nichols Coury, Barbara Bietz, O'Neill, Mary Ann Fraser and Yuki Yoshino) at California’s Ventura Harbor. The book, illustrated by Terry Widener, is based on the true story of Homan J. Walsh, a boy who, in 1848, won a kite-flying contest proposed by the engineer commissioned to build the first suspension bridge across the Niagara River. Walsh’s kite string served as a foundational line across the Niagara Gorge – a crucial first step in the building of the bridge connecting the United States and Canada.

Fashion Forward

To celebrate the start of the new school year, author Lynn Plourde shared her new picture book You're Wearing That to School?! (Disney-Hyperion) with a young audience at Nonesuch Books & Cards in South Portland, Maine. The book, which is illustrated by Sue Cornelison, tells the story of a hippopotamus named Penelope, who has no plans to tame her eccentric fashion sense for the first day of kindergarten. In the spirit of her confident heroine, Plourde sported a feather boa and other colorful attire, and Nonesuch manager Cheryl Perrino provided crayons, glitter tape, and stickers for children to add flair to copies of Cornelison’s line drawings of Penelope.