Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Got books?

My boys and I were driving home from an urban photography hike with our homeschool co-op. A delightful walk, with a long stop to picnic at a park in the gorgeous sunshine. We were all tired and thirsty.

As we neared home, we noticed two women in front of our local bookstore in Got Milk t-shirts, handing out free chocolate milk. We drove past, saying, "Free chocolate milk? At the bookstore?" Evan wanted to stop to investigate. Ben argued that we could make chocolate milk in three minutes at our own house. Me, I'm still a Wisconsin gal at heart, I guess. Can't turn down a dairy product.

The milk women were very happy to see us. "Here, have some free milk! Come inside! There's free t-shirts, and stickers! Get your picture taken! And they're doing a storytime, too."

We allowed ourselves to be ushered into the bookstore, where we were greeted by the manager who started loading us with t-shirts, canvas bags, and curly straws. About a dozen kids, most under the age of 5, were having their pictures taken with their faces peeking out from behind cardboard cutouts of milk bottle monsters.

"Have a seat!" the manager offered. "The authors will be reading more stories in a few minutes."

Authors? Hmmm. We sat.

A nice-looking man sat at a table with a pile of Halloween books in front of him and a little card which read Eric Kimmel and an empty spot with a card that said Bart King.

When the manager was between photo ops with the wee ones, I approached her. "Uh...so, are those the people reading the stories? Eric Kimmel? And Bart King?"

"Yep! That's Eric at the table he's written about 60 children's books--"

"I know," I said. "We've read them."

"And Bart King?" I asked her. "Is he also here?"
Bart King happens to be the author of a book I just checked out for Ben from the library because two of his friends own copies and he loves it. I had considered buying it for him, but I figured I'd wait and make sure he hadn't tired of it after a few weeks with the library copy. Apparently the universe had other ideas.

Moments later the two authors began telling stories to their audience of squirrely little boys and girls, appreciative parents, and us. True to his style, Bart King also gave some ideas for harmless Halloween pranks, as well as revealing his middle school students' least favorite trick-or-treat items, including dental floss, pencils, and little bags of (believe it or not) gravel. If you're planning to give out baby carrots, I'd suggest keeping a stash of candy for the ghoulies who are almost as tall as you.

After the reading I bought a copy of The Big Book of Boy Stuff and Bart signed it and had a nice conversation with my boys. (We already have several of Eric Kimmel's books and my boys have mostly outgrown picture books). Too bad we wore down our camera's battery on our photography hike, so no picture. But the memory will remain, of our serendipitous author signing.

When I got home from my writing critique group tonight at 10:30, I could hear peals of laughter from upstairs. The boys were practicing the silly face described in Bart's book. We'll do a full review later on, but I must tell you that if you have a boy between 8 and 12 on your holiday shopping list, this book is sure to be a hit.


  1. how cool! free chocolate milk and authors. What a day, but a shame there is no picture.

  2. TOO THRILLING! I have never been to a meet-an-author event (yea, I need to get out more) but for you to just stumble into the opp - very cool.

  3. and then there was the free chocolate milk!

  4. I love when life gives you great little surprises like these.

  5. Oh, wow! What a fun day.

  6. That is such a great story... how fun.

  7. What a great story! What's better than chocolate milk and books? Glad you stumbled upon this.

  8. Now that sounds like a wonderful unexpected treat! I would haves stopped for the chocolate milk too. :-) It sounds like you and your boys had a great time.