Thursday, April 23, 2009


If I was stranded on a deserted island with only ten books, I would want one of those to be Anita Silvey’s 100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN. I bought this treasure after hearing her speak at the SCBWI Carolina’s 2008 Fall Conference and have yet to put it away.

100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN is a delight. Silvey organizes her picks by age categories, making it especially parent-friendly. Each of the great reads is summarized. The awesomeness, however, comes as this children's literature insider shares stories about the authors and how their works came to life.

For example, did you know that Curious George was originally named Fifi and was modeled after H.A. Rey’s wife Margaret?

Did you know that Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE would have been “Where the Wild Horses Are” except he couldn’t draw horses very well. Instead, he took memories of his relatives and combined them with images of King Kong, and the rest is history!

From stories for toddlers to books for twelve year olds, Silvey shines the spotlight on both classics and newer finds. I recommend 100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN for parents, teachers, and anyone who loves children’s books.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Krispy Kreme Dream Comes True

I love Krispy Kreme doughnuts. When the Hot and Now neon sign is on, I know the pale doughy life preservers are bobbling along the river of hot oil, ready to travel under the falls of sugary glaze. MMMMMM! Close your eyes with me and sniff; the sweetness is so thick that the air almost has texture. Of all the writing topics I’ve had to research, this one never gets old.

A couple weeks ago, I received an emailed invitation to a “Friends and Family” event to celebrate the future opening of an additional Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem. I have been working on a children’s nonfiction book about doughnuts, so I grabbed my business cards and camera, hoping to come back home with a few connections and an assorted dozen. Little did I know, I was about to join the dream team.

The Saturday event was not an official opening, but more like a sneak peak, reserved for friends and families of employees and internet glazed groupies, like me. Just the same, the event was big enough to warrant the police directing traffic. I’m betting they didn’t have to do too much arm twisting to get them there.

The inside of this Krispy Kreme held a few surprises. One of the biggies was the Kool Kreme counter. Instead of just visiting for “hot doughnuts now,” customers can now choose from soft serve ice cream treats, icy fruity drinks, or even doughnut sundaes. Did I mention there were toppings? Indeed!

I did not sample the ice cream. Instead, I headed for the great glass window to watch the doughnuts. Within minutes, an employee asked if I would like to dip my own doughnut. Surely that was a rhetorical question. If there had been room, I would have skipped to the dunking station. Instead, I wiggled my way through the crowds to the booth. A friendly employee gave me the go ahead and, with my fingers gripping the sticky edges, I dipped my glazed doughnut into a bowl of swirling, melted chocolate. MMMMM! Then, I plunged my doughnut into the pastel sprinkles. It was a work of art. I was a natural.

After photographing my doughnut, picking out my assorted dozen, and putting them in the car, I reentered the shop. I wanted to soak up every bit of the Krispy Kreme experience. So I found a spot just inside the store to sniff and watch and wonder. That’s when it happened.

A nice man asked me to help him hand out paper hats! I suppose the doughnut diva within was giving off such a strong vibe that I appeared to be a Krispy Kreme employee. I smiled, took a stack of them, and joined the Krispy Kreme team. The lady on my left offered hats to children. I decided to offer mine to the adults. Many took and wore them proudly as I explained that they too could dip a doughnut. I greeted customers and corporate folks, answering questions and enjoying my secret identity.

I did eventually confess that I was a children’s book writer and not a “real” Krispy Kreme employee. Thankfully, they did not banish me, but allowed to continue to help and even introduced me to Jim Morgan, the President and CEO of Krispy Kreme. All in all it was a sweet experience.