Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Penderwicks on the Plaza!

Kepler's was honored to welcome, Jeanne Birdsall, author of The Penderwicks series, to the Plaza on Monday, April 21. It was a cool April evening, but a family crowd gathered to celebrate her newest tale, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.

Kepler's Children's Events Coordinator, Angela Kroner, is the artistic and talented mind behind all of our fabulous children's events. She recreated the Penderwicks world on the plaza - complete with piano music, butterfly wings, bunnies, brownies and more. Here's a recap of a magical evening, in Angela's words. ~
This was our first attempt at an evening outdoor event. And, thanks to the tremendous effort of the people that helped me set up, I think that it works quite well. The traffic noise wasn’t too bad although the train was intrusive. We were able to fit quite a few chairs out there, so hopefully, we can start to considerate it for an alternative venue during the warmer summer months! It never hurts to have people driving by actually see what one of our events looks like! Here are some pictures of what it looked like:

Jeanne, of course, was a delight. (Angela Mann had the opportunity to conduct and interview with her prior to the event - keep checking the blog - we'll post that soon!) She started right off by saying that people needed to support their independent book stores because they are the ones that out there fighting the good fight. She was quick to point out that it was the independents that made her first book such a success and if it wasn’t for them, The Penderwicks may have languished. It was a nice message to convey to the kids, as they are the future customers and supporters of stores like ours!

She talked mostly about where the ideas for the story lines come from and it seems that she pulls quite a bit from the classics. Its obvious, really, but she still managed to write two books that have a modern, yet classic feel to them. The influences she cited were Nesbit, Alcott, Munro Leaf, and a score of others. She also pulled quite a bit from her own family—human and pets. (Her son…or was it step-son…is a student at Stanford and he was there. She kept on referring to him and the things that he and his siblings did while they were growing up, telling him to stand up and answer questions. He took this with much good humor.)

The questions from the audience were intelligent and she answered them with great honesty. Her favorite question came from a young man who started off his question with, “My mom says…” To which Jeanne replied, “Any question that starts off with that phrase is a good question.” (Or something along those lines.) He proceeded to say that his mom said that in order to have a good book, it’s a good idea to start off with some sort of tragedy like killing off a parent. This made the whole audience and Jeanne laugh hysterically. She said that this was a good theory, but that she certainly was not advocating killing parents.

One last side note: Author Robin Brande (Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature) was there and the two of them got along really well. Apparently, they have the same editor and spent the end of the night talking and laughing about the touring circuit. Here is a picture of them:

Finally, this was a very labor intensive event and I couldn’t have done it without the help of Frank, Antonia, Jeff, Sarah, Angela M., and Cressida. Thanks also to Mike F. for getting the MOBI up and running so that people could buy books outside. And finally, to Adrianna for playing piano for us and to Jason for building us the stage.


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