Tuesday, October 2, 2007

“What I did on my Summer Vacation” by Beach Pig

Hi, everyone. My name is Beach Pig and though I look simply like a big, pink stuffed-animal in cool green sunglasses, beneath the surface I am a passionate poetry lover. So you can imagine how pleased I was last April during “National Poetry Month” to meet Karen Jo Shapiro , a lady who writes silly poetry for children. She liked me immediately (what can I say? I have charisma!) and invited me to do some poetry shows together in libraries, bookstores and schools around North Carolina. Since I really enjoy the beach, I was happy to be outfitted in a bathing suit, floppy pink sun hat, and water shoes- perched in my beach chair- while Karen Jo read aloud the title poem from her new book I Must Go Down to the Beach Again and Other Poems. (She read other poems too, but I’m, not the STAR of those).

In June, Karen Jo and her family were going to travel to the Boston area, so I had the brilliant idea that we could do a little book tour in New England in which I would be the STAR. (I discovered I really like acting out poetry) We drove North in the Shapiro mini-van (Can you imagine? Me- Beach Pig, a lover of the outdoors- was squashed for hours in the back between suitcases and pillows. I passed the time daydreaming about lovely water sand, and sky). Our first event was at the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, MA. It was great! The book’s illustrator, Judy Love, joined us for the reading, and afterward there was a fun beach craft project with shells, and a snack of cookies and juice.

Our next stop was Cape Cod! I love the seashore so visiting the delightful bookstore in Chatham called Where the Sidewalk Ends, was a real treat. (The owners- Joanne and Caitlin- were super nice to us). The kids were good listeners and they enjoyed coming up and touching my marvelous beach toys- a red toy boat with a string to pull it by, a bathtub duck, a yellow truck, and a plastic squirt toy for spraying). After the event we had a yummy Cape Cod style lunch and watched sea otters at the shore.

I spent the 5th of July at the Wellesley Booksmith, although I had less to do than usual because the audience was small and mostly adults. (But we did get mentioned in Alison Morris’s Publisher Weekly blog, the Shelftalker!) A few days later, the Shapiro family was off to their annual vacation in Rangeley, Maine, and I was invited along to perform at the Rangeley Public Library. I must say, Rangeley Lake is a beach where the games and fun really do begin! I floated beneath the sky on my blow-up boat and basically enjoyed life. Oh, and I also OF COURSE entertained crowds at the library with my shows. We did two programs and lots of nice families came. In between the events, I got to sit on the front table in my beach chair and greet all the nice people checking out their books.

So, now I am back in North Carolina, and as the school year begins for children all over the United States, I am inspired to do even more programs to get kids excited about poetry. Maybe this will be the year I’ll even write a poem myself. And before too much time goes by….I must go down to the beach again!

Posted by Karen Jo Shapiro

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