Ben’s Bar Mitzvah

OK, I had never been to a Bar Mitzvah before last weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, really.
My good friend Barb’s son Ben was the guy of the day- and what a great job he did! The actual ceremony was beautiful. Luckily for us, it was explained along the way, full of music, and very joyful. Then, after that….

The party portion took place in a grand ballroom that was decked out like Fenway Park:


The kids had their own head table and buffet of kid-approved foods:

head table

No detail was left to chance! As far as I could see, everything was perfectly themed.


The kids (mainly 13-year old boys, of course, but with a smattering of girls, too) were able to take instant pictures in a photo booth, get into Red Sox gear and have their photos put into banners, and visit their own ice cream bar. There was a kid-friendly concession stand:


And guys on hand to airbrush custom t-shirts (the kids could choose the design):


There was a beautiful cake that had a lot of tall candles on it- each candle represented an important person in Ben’s life.


The Nook was well-represented that night. Here’s Monica, MB, and Janet, wearing their Bar Mitzvah best!


There’s Ben in the middle of the dancers (yes, dancers!):


‘Twas a night that brought out the best in everyone. It was impossible not to have a great time. Thanks to Barb and Phil and Ben for letting us share this amazing experience!


2009 RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors

Also known as one of THE BEST book festivals you can go to, and lucky, us, it’s right here in RI!


Every year, the Lincoln School in Providence opens up and we get treated to the best writers and illustrators currently working. That is no exaggeration! To wit:

Here’s Brian Selznick explaining some of the windy journey that led him to create The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What’s fun about this festival is that the speakers have to be ready to talk to a mixed audience of kids and adults. I find that a lot more engaging, and it seems like they feel that way too! Brian is at the top of his game- a wonderful author/illustrator, and a contemporary of ours from RISD (he graduated in ’88, Eric and I in ’89). Go Brian!


Here’s the amazing Lois Lowry, signing our festival poster. Our kids have read a bunch of her books, so it was a treat to see her in person.

lois lowrey_sign

Jerry Pinkney. What can you say about him? I’d say he’s in the Liz Top Ten of Living Illustrators. Oh, yeah- and add to that he’s a totally genuine guy who really cares about people. You can see this in person for sure, but I think it comes out in his art, too.

That’s his childhood home in the slide.

Look- there’s betty Brown getting her book signed!


Here’s Mary Ann Hoberman:


With a few fans!

Chris Van Allsburg: My old teacher from RISD!

A very popular presenter at the festival each year!

Christopher Paul Curtis gave a great talk, also geared for the mixed kid/adult audience, that had the place in stitches. Here he is coercing a boy to declare his love of reading, after which he gave him a cash “bookmark.” Ha! Hearing him describe his ascent from Detroit auto worker to Newbery and Coretta Scott King Award winner was purely inspirational.


Paul O. Zelinsky was there too…add another name to the Top Illustrator List! He’s prolific, and also seems to be able to bend his style to match a story, sometimes in very surprising ways. What an array of work…very inspiring. And very dapper to boot!


AS IF that weren’t enough, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was there, too!


I simply had to add to my signed book collection. Wouldn’t you? My only regrets are that we couldn’t see everyone there and hear all the talks. It’s pretty much impossible to do…but for however long you are there, it’s a top-notch treat and a wonderful experience. If you’re anywhere near RI next year, be sure you come to the Festival!