Last weekend I had another birthday. Most birthdays just come and go, but this one really was the best birthday I've ever had.
(Why am I doing that with my finger?)
Friday, Julie totally blew me away by giving me the best b-day gift and surprise I've ever gotten. Saturday we had a nice dinner out with the fam. And Sunday, Julie, Romy and I trekked down to Chicago's beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood to partake in our first ever (but their 23rd annual) 57th Street Children's Book Fair. The whole shebang is organized every year by Hyde Park's very own 57th Street Books bookshop. President Obama's favorite bookstore (Hyde Park is the President's original pre-White-House home and stomping grounds).
I was signing copies of TROUBLE GUM in the early afternoon, right when the fair kicked off. When we got there, I was told that I would be giving away (not selling) my books to families that came to the table. Giving away. Because the Fair's head coordinator Angela Sherrill (of both 57th Street Books and 57th Street Children's Book Fair) had received a grant for the Fair which allowed them to purchase 25 copies of my books--as well as the other signing authors' books! I could just share the TROUBLE GUM love with fair attendees (limit one per family). Wow.
This was a great time. Children's books (and children) all over the place. Friendly faces, perfect weather. And our first visit to indie bookshop 57th Street Books. It's a sweet basement level store with a neat windy layout and LOTS of good books. A great kids section! We loved the store.
Hyde Park is a great place. Lots of amazing homes and architecture, great shops and restaurants. Lots of diversity in its residents--a cool and intellectual community. University of Chicago's right there. And lots of great big trees. Just good vibes all around.
On our ride home, Julie recorded a podcast of our day (she's been doing some hilarious podcasting on her blog for the last week or so). I reluctantly agreed to answer some questions into that digital voice recorder (reluctantly only cause I can't stand the sound of my own voice, and I'm perpetually afraid of having something dumb I've said be immortalized like this). I haven't listened (won't listen) to the recording, but it was a lot of fun in the making. Check this out here.
And here are some photos from the book fair and otherwise...
Here I am getting set up and ready to sign/draw. I'm putting out some of the bubble gum Feiwel and Friends made for promo opportunities. The kiddos seemed to enjoy.
People are coming at this point. For some reason, I ended up standing for the whole signing. It was kinda awkward drawing all hunched over, standing over the books, but I guess I got stuck that way. That's my table buddy on the right, Jeff Jarka (we both had the 1-2pm shift). It was his good idea to lay out the books like this. Seemed to work well, in drawing in some crowd (who might normally shy away from the likes of us). Jeff's a nice guy. He was signing copies of his new book, LOVE THAT PUPPY.
After the signing, we had a quick lunch at the park across the street with our friend Ali. Thanks to good pals Ali and Sam for showing up!
On our way out, we stopped for one last pic. They had all these cool hand-painted book-inspired wooden backdrops for kids to play in and have photos taken with. My best girls.
These last two are not my photos (I lifted them from someplace off of the internet). I wanted to show some pics of the front of the coolest 57th Street Books. Very great (and surprisingly large!) friendly neighborhood bookstore.
The cool old-school sign up close.
Thanks, 57th Street Children's Book Fair! We had a blast.