First up was Origami Yoda author Tom Angleberger, who visited last Wednesday evening and entertained the crowd by doing -- among a number of other things -- some live drawing of the characters from the first book in his wacky new Rocket and Groot series, Stranded on Planet Strip Mall. Rocket and Groot are two characters from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy; Rocket is an adventuresome raccoon with energy to spare, while Groot is a tree, whose only words are "I am Groot." For the series, Tom added a fabulously quirky new character, a talking -- and opinionated -- tape dispenser named Veronica.
In their first book, Rocket, Groot and Veronica crash-land onto a planet composed entirely of strip malls, and they must battle hungry toilets, murderous robots, and a "Grandma" washing machine with chainsaw arms to survive. In its review, School Library Journal called the book "a slapstick romp," and that it is.
Speaking of a "slapstick romp," that's pretty much what Tom's presentation was like. He warmed up the crowd with a demonstration of his prowess in juggling Sharpies and then Tom talked about -- and drew -- the characters from his best-selling Origami Yoda series before launching into a lively presentation of his new book. Tom joked about the fact that the Marvel folks had chosen him to both write and illustrate the Rocket and Groot series, noting: "It turns out that the art was supposed to look like that of an insane raccoon, and I'm almost up to that."
|The Killer Grandma Washing Machine|
At one point, Tom got a bit of help from award-winning graphic novelist Gareth Hinds (a patron at my library!), who put a Samurai helmet on Tom's cheese doodle in homage to the illustrations Gareth did for author Pamela Turner's new book, "Samurai Rising." At another point, in a brilliant piece of improvisational drawing, Tom asked kids to name their favorite books (other than his!) and then created a drawing tying them all together.
|Gareth Hinds adds a Samurai helmet to Tom's cheese doodle.|
Throughout the evening, it seemed like Tom was a whirling dervish of humor and motion, and the crowd especially loved how he called every kid "Larry." The evening ended with Tom showing everyone how to create their own Origami Yoda finger puppet. Everyone got a little green rectangle and followed Tom, who used a giant piece of green paper and got a bit of folding bit of help from a young fan. All in all, it was a wonderfully fun evening for both kids and adults.
The next evening's author program was quite different, but no less fun. The featured author/illustrator was Ruth Chan, whose first picture book, Where's the Party?, has just been released. To celebrate the book and its theme, we decided to throw a party, complete with cake, party hats, noisemakers, and party favors. (Full disclosure: Macmillan, Ruth's publisher, provided funds for the cake and sent several packets of party hats, while we provided lemonade, party favors and the people-power required to figure out how to put together the party hats).
|Note: All photos of Ruth's event were taken by Bruce Guthrie.|
In her presentation, Ruth talked about how the close friendship between her beagle-like dog Feta and her cat Georgie gave her the idea for Where's the Party?
|Local debut author Minh Le and his boys meet Ruth.|
In the book, Georgie the cat wants to have a party but can't find any willing guests. Fortunately, there's a happy surprise for Georgie at the end. Publishers Weekly noted that Ruth's ink-and-watercolor illustrations are "full of playful details to enjoy."
After a number of years in education, Ruth's new career as a picture book creator is off to a flying start. She's already got a second Georgie & Friends book ready to go, titled "Georgie's Best Bad Day. We got a sneak peek at the book, which will be published next spring.
|The real Georgie and his best friend Feta the hound dog.|
Once Ruth finished her presentation, everyone headed for cake and lemonade. We gave out the party favors, which were pencils and bracelets with a "reading is fun" theme, and then everyone got to pick a noisemaker as they left the library. It's safe to say that a good time was had by all!
|The Library's Dave Burbank presents his sketch of Ruth.|
END NOTES: Thanks to Seale Ballenger of Disney for working to set up Tom Angleberger's program, and for providing a review copy of Stranded on Planet Strip Mall. Thanks also to Molly Brouillette of Macmillan for setting up Ruth Chan's program, and providing the cake, party hats, and a review copy of Where's the Party? Thanks, as always, to Kerri Poore of Politics & Prose for booking these wonderful programs at my library. And a rousing thanks to Bruce Guthrie for the great photos of Ruth's event.