Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Visit From Maureen Sullivan & Alison Josephs

My class was invited to a delightful reading and book signing this morning of Ankle Soup. The timing could not have been better as the story involves a "French Bulldog finding his way through New York City's Grand Central Terminal on Thanksgiving Day".

I was immediately enamored of the vivacious, outgoing, energetic, charismatic and commanding author, Maureen Sullivan. She was in her element before a group of kindergarten and first grade students as she set the stage for the reading. She explained that the story takes place in our wonderful city and highlighted the places the children may have visited.

Maureen encouraged the children to meet the challenge of big words in texts. Those delicious and descriptive words like immortal, dodging, terminal and careened (all in the book) but none as big as that gi-normous one from Mary Poppins - you know the one, it starts with an 'S'.

During the reading Alison, the illustrator, displayed the exquisite artwork that accompanied Maureen's words. Hers are luscious, colorful images chock full of details for young readers to explore. The sushi in the display case, Clifford the Big Red Dog balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the taxi cab driver, the title of the book a young girl is holding. They draw you in (so to speak).

A question and answer period followed in which Maureen and Alison explained that this was their first children's book collaboration. A second book Custard and Mustard is expected in Spring 2009. It is a "love letter to Coney Island the reader is sure to relish".

It was a pleasure to see these enterprising women share their talents with us today. I'll end as they end Ankle Soup, with a short poem:

Rich and poor, short and tall
We're in it together on this great big ball
Let's all be grateful on this Thanksgiving Day
For the soup we're all in and life's buffet


Mona said...

Wow! That seems like quite an event! It must have been a special day indeed!

Happy Thanks giving to you Gary! & also to Mom!

lettuce said...

what a great premise for a book

and "custard and mustard" - i loved coney island, will have to look out for that one.

have a great holiday weekend gary.

Dumdad said...

What a treat for the kids.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Squirrel said...

The dog gets his turkey and stuffing at the end, right?????

Happy Thanksgiving--extra joy and celebration in this special year!!!

ciara said...

that's so cool to have a reading w the author & illustrator. i tell ya, i SO wish i was a kid in your class :)

happy thanksgiving! :)

Salty Miss Jill said...

Very cute! Do you know that i have a list of all the children's books you mention, and I check them out at the library? :)

Barbara said...

What a privilege for you to have an author and illustrator read their book to your kids. I am sure the whole thing was signed in ALS, correct? How did your guests deal with that?

The book sounds like a great read for kids any time of the year! (Filed away for reading to my homeless shelter kids.)

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a delight for you and the kids! and what a perfect thanksgiving poem. I'm going to copy it down and bring it to thanksgiving dinner.

I hope our library has this book - I definitely want to check it out.

have a happy thanksgiving gary!

Reya Mellicker said...

I am grateful. So grateful.

xx oo

Ankle Soup said...

Gary, we had such a wonderful time at the school and with your class. Thank you for making it so "supercalafragilisticexpialidocious". Hope to see you soon for a little visit to my studio with the kids. Working on the Custard and Mustard Paintings now! Happy Holidays. Alison Josephs (illustrator, Ankle Soup)

Gary said...

Mona - Thanks for always remembering to include mom in your wishes. I have a new tips from mom coming up very soon (maybe even next).

Letty - (Why do I feel compelled to give you a nickname? Must I shorten everything? I guess you should consider it a form of endearment.) I was actually thinking of you when they announced the Coney Island book. When it comes out I will send you an autographed copy, if I can swing it.

Dumdad - Thanks! I'd say the same to you (and Mona and Lettuce) but since Thanksgiving is an American holiday it may not mean as much. Have a fantastic weekend.

Squirrel - I am sure that the story ends that way after the final page is read. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Hope you get all the nuts you can eat.

Ciara - Happy Thanksgiving! The author and illustrator were really fantastic. We were invite, at a later date, to Alison's studio to see her in action. How wonderful is that?

Salty - No, I did not know that. That's amazing. I hope that you enjoy these books. I think some of them are actually more for the adults reading them but children always surprise me with the messages they take from even rather sophisticated texts. Thanks for letting me know you check out my recommendations. I am honored.

Barbara - There was an ASL interpreter for the presentation (you can see him in the middle picture). Maureen and Alison worked very well with him. I am not sure if they were briefed beforehand on how to work with an interpreter (some people find it difficult at first) but they were pros. No issues. If you click the link to Ankle Soup you can actually watch a reading of the book and interviews with both Alison and Maureen. It seems a great way to promote the book.

Kimy - Isn't that a great poem. I am not sure if that was written by Maureen or if she took it from another source (Maureen, if you are reading this perhaps you could enlighten us) but it is a good one. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the long weekend.

Reya - Even bigger Xs and Os.

Alison - Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment. You got me smiling. We would love to visit your studio some time, especially since it is so close to the school. Thanks again for visiting us and sharing Ankle Soup. Your artwork is really special and I am looking forward to Custard and Mustard.

maureen said...

Kimy,I wrote the poem for Ankle Soup. It's on the back cover. Carlos the French Bulldog is standing on top of the world and the poem encircles the globe. I am so happy you like it and hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...


You are the greatest! Thank you for being such an appreciative audience and friend. Alison and I cannot wait for you to visit us at her studio in the spring with your wonderful students.

maureen said...

I am a new blogger so the anonumous tag was hit in error. The thanks to Gary is from me, Maureen!

Gary said...

Maureen- More smiles! Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing Ankle Soup with the children. I hope you and Alison will return when Custard and Mustard is completed. I would love to get that autographed as well (one for me and one for Lettuce).

Enjoy the holidays!

WAT said...

Hey, my one regret is that this wasn't recorded so I could "sit in" with the class to hear some of it at least!

Ankle Soup said...

Gary, the paintings for Custard and Mustard are starting to Gel... should we put a date in the book for the studio visit? Any time is good for me. Alison

Gary said...

Alison! That would be amazing!! We have a vacation (Mid-Winter Recess) coming up in February so it'll probably work best if we can choose a date in March. How exciting.


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