Launch Day & Independent Booksellers

People often ask me why I am so adamant about buying books from independent booksellers. The answer is simple: because they are owned by our neighbors and they invest in our communities. But the next time someone asks me to elaborate on this, I’m going to tell the story of how my seventh children’s book was scheduled to publish in the spring of 2020, how I’d lined up three months of book launch events—at my local libraries, local wildlife sanctuaries, local science centers, and local bookstores—and how every single one of those events was (rightly) cancelled because of a global pandemic. I’ll explain how I wrote to my local independent bookseller, Rich Collins at Root and Press, LLC in Worcester, MA, to cancel my event in his store. And then I’ll tell them how Rich helped me design a plan to give my book a special launch day, pandemic and all.

This, my friends, is why I believe, heart and soul, in indie booksellers. They are here for us, with books and inspiration and, when necessary, moral support. That other online bookseller you hear about constantly? Not so much.

Root & Press has created a bookshelf for my book, YOU’RE INVITED TO A MOTH BALL, on Bookshop.org, an online bookstore that shares its profits with community bookstores. Like the ones in my community. Like the one in your community.

Look, I know there are more important things going on in the world today than the release of my children’s books about moths. But I also know that we are going to get through this pandemic by supporting one another, and the way Root & Press has committed to support me, and I them, is one small and beautiful example of that.

Nature heals. I believe this. And I’ve written a book—illustrated with absolutely stunning photographs by my talented collaborator, Ellen Harasimowicz—that we hope will inspire kids to get outside and look around. At moths, of all things! But we believe this looking can be, in its small way, a healing.

So, tomorrow, April 7, our new children’s book will be released into this world. I’m immensely excited to share it with you, despite everything. If you decide you’d like a copy—for yourself, for a kid you know, for a library you love—I hope you’ll buy it from Rich at Root & Press, using the link below. If you feel inclined to share my love of independent booksellers, please share the link with your friends.

Thank you!

EDITED TO ADD: If you are local to Worcester, MA, you can order directly from Root & Press by calling (978) 870-5429. They are offering curbside pickup at 623 Chandler Street in Worcester, MA, and will even deliver to local addresses!

Karen’s Find

I’m still turning to nature for comfort and distraction this week, and so are a lot of my friends. Karen from Massachusetts sent me this photo, which she took on the banks of a pond, right next to something that looked like a beaver lodge. We did a little online research and our guess: beaver scat!

Why take a photo of beaver scat? For one thing, it helped us to identify the scat back at home, using field guides and online animal tracking websites. For another, it helps us keep track of our animal neighbors, which is something I’ve been doing for a long time. In case you missed it, here’s a video explaining the idea. Feel free to share it with your friends and families who are safe-at-home and looking for something new to do.

Big Night

I’ve been watching wood frogs at a local-to-me vernal pool for more than a week now, hearing the males “quack” and watching the females arrive, observing amplexus (male frogs mounted on top of egg-laying females, fertilizing said eggs), counting egg masses. But I wasn’t seeing any signs of the other amphibian species that usually return here in the spring: spotted salamanders or spring peepers. All that changed last night.

It started raining at about 6pm, and continued most of the night. Temperatures hovered around 45 throughout. At 9pm, I recruited a few accommodating family members, hiked over to the pond, and steeped smack into the biggest Big Night of our lives.

We saw at least a dozen spotted salamanders wiggle-walking toward the pond, or already in it.

We heard (but didn’t see) our first peepers of the season.

We even observed wood frogs leaving the pool, hopping back to the woods.

Sometimes the world feels overwhelming in really hard ways, and sometimes it feels overwhelming in really good ways. The trick, I remembered last night, is to keep our eyes open for both.

Happy exploring, friends. xo

Postscript: If you need a little background on Big Night, here’s an essay I wrote about it for Yankee magazine last spring.

Amy’s Find

Here’s another great Flora & Fauna find, this one from Amy in Massachusetts. These are wood frogs in the frenzy of spring mating season. What a photo! Thanks so much for letting me share it, Amy. 🐸

Keep getting outside, friends, as you’re able. Breathe some fresh air, soak up some sunshine, or some rain, or some snow, and let nature do its thing for you. If you find something you’d like to share, I’d love to see it.

Snow: a hot tip!

For all my New England friends creating Flora & Fauna books, I hope you woke up excited this morning, because this snow? It’s the perfect animal tracking tool! If there were animals walking around your neighborhood last night, you’ll find their prints in the snow covering your yard, park, or sidewalk.

Up above are a couple photos I snapped on my back porch last night, just as the snow was starting to fall where I live. That beautiful line of tracks? A wee bird.

Happy tracking!

Book Launch News, and Coping

Hello, friends.

I’m writing with an update on the spring launch of You’re Invited to a Moth Ball. Many of the planned events have already been postponed, and its highly likely the rest will be as well. At this time, protecting as many of our friends and family and community members as is humanly possible through diligent hygiene and social distancing is paramount. Ellen Harasimowicz and I are, of course, disappointed. Our amazing team at Charlesbridge Publishing, too. Rest assured, though, that we will launch this book with all due fanfare as soon as it’s safe for us to do!

Like many of you, I’m struggling to navigate the uncertainty that coronavirus has made front and center in my life. I’m following the directives of those with the most practical knowledge of the situation and how to contain spread of the virus. I’ll include a few links below. I’m also doing what I can to reduce stress levels. In other words, I’m retreating to my one true comfort: nature.

The images above are from a hike I took yesterday. I didn’t see a single person (and if I did, I’d have simply waved and kept a prudent distance; experts recommend six feet). I didn’t see a single frog either, although that’s what I’d hoped for. I did see a lot of interesting and unknown-to-me things that were both beautiful and distracting. And it turns out beauty and distraction was just what I needed.

Maybe its what you need right now, too?

Stay safe, friends. We’ll get through this. We will.

XO

A COUPLE HELPFUL LINKS:

Information on the WHYS and HOWS of social distancing

Poignant piece on you and me and our finest hour

Being Frog

So, are you the sort of person who would be distracted by a parade of hopping frogs and excited by the idea of helping them? Do you like being out of doors, even at night? Are you intrigued by the thought of listening to spring? Have you held a frog or toad in your hand, looked it in the eye, and felt something?

These are questions I posed in the pages of Citizen Scientists, suggesting those who answered YES! would make good frog watchers. Today I’d like to add that those people–frog people–will also adore this new picture book from April Pulley Sayre.

Being Frog is a delight, cover to cover, a celebration of language and image and, of course, frogs. Don’t miss this one, friends!