Thursday, February 28, 2008


(Second in a occasional series featuring highly biased editorial book lovin'; spoilers ahoy.)

I first heard of Timothy and the Strong Pajamas by Viviane Schwarz when it showed up on Arthur's "Future Planning" list in the fall of 2006. "'Strong Pajamas'?" I said to Arthur. "What is that?"

He grinned and said, "It's a book Alison Green is publishing for Scholastic UK. You'll love it."

"Ooo-kay," I said -- or more likely thought, because you do not say "Ooo-kay" doubtfully to your boss. But when I saw the layouts a few months later, Arthur was proved right, as he usually is, because this book is the picture-book equivalent of a baby seal: utterly delightful, totally kid-friendly*, and perfectly irresistible. You can try to withstand its charm, but you will fail.

And why wouldn't you want to give in? The book focuses on Timothy Smallbeast, a rodent-like creature of indeterminate species, but definitely about six human years in age. Every night, Timothy tries to make himself stronger by drinking a "big mug of fortified milk" and eating "three extra-tough cookies," doing some exercises, and thinking "STRONG thoughts." (Writers will notice that the author has already tapped into a primal childhood emotional desire -- to be bigger, stronger and more powerful -- thus rendering her hero both psychologically real for his age and instantly sympathetic to children; illustrators will notice that the "STRONG thoughts" vignette shows Timothy meditating with his legs crossed, which makes his thinking visually interesting and is cute as heck to boot.) Unfortunately, his pajamas get worn out through all that activity, so his mother sews on "lots of sturdy patches" and "six very red buttons" using "the strongest thread."

And the next morning, when Timothy opens his bedroom door, he pulls it right off its hinges! Mom's magic has turned his nightclothes into "Super Strong Pajamas," complete with the "PATCHES of POWER" and "BUTTONS of BRAVENESS," as his darling best friend Monkey says. (Monkey is a red-and-white-striped sock monkey, for the record.) Clearly Timothy must become a superhero, and in short order he rescues a falling elephant, helps an old lady with her groceries, frees a princess from a tipping tower, drags an alligator back to the zoo, and other such heroic escapades. (Nearly all of this action is accomplished on one spread: Illustrators will notice the efficiency of Ms. Schwarz's comic-book-like boxes, while writers will see that none of Timothy's adventures are described in the text, and the charm of the whole is increased immensely by Monkey's supportive asides.)

As Timothy and Monkey head home for the night, they meet a tired bear who needs to get back to the forest to hibernate. Timothy graciously volunteers to carry him there, but as he turns to leave the forest, he realizes Monkey is trapped underneath the snoring bear! All that can be seen of him is his little white-tipped tail, and when Timothy tries to rescue him --


The pajamas lose their super strength! What can Timothy do?

It is at this point that, every single time I read this book, I have to stop and say Monkey's next line aloud:

"Fear not! We shall meet again in spring!"

That is British pluck, my friends, and also the cutest thing ever. Except for what Timothy says next: "'Oh no!' sobbed Timothy. 'My monkey is being hibernated on by a bear, and I can't go to sleep without him!'" Poor Timothy! (Writers: Note that despite Timothy's super-smallbeast abilities, he still has the emotional needs and insecurities of the book's target audience, and Ms. Schwarz has now both provided wish-fulfillment through his adventures and kept him real in his fears.)

But the elephant lady whom Timothy helped earlier happens to be passing by, and with a great trumpet call, she summons the old lady, the princess, the alligator, and everyone else who benefited from his assistance. (Illustrators: Observe that the design of the elephant's call -- a great red lightning bolt slashing diagonally across the spread with the words "COME AND HELP TIMOTHY!" -- visually echoes and reverses the design of the elephant lady's first appearance, where she cried, "SOMEBODY HELP MEEE!") They come running, and with a "ONE! TWO! THREE!" they pull Monkey loose from the bear. ("FREE as a bird!" Monkey says.) This is a wonderful story development, for rather than Timothy having to dig for renewed strength in himself, as has been done in children's books two hundred times over, he finds strength in his friends, as we all do every day; and it subtly makes the point that regular people (and elephants and alligators) working together can do as much as fantasy superheroes.

The elephant lady takes them all home, where "Timothy's mother shook her head when she saw the state of his pajamas." And of course, as Timothy falls asleep, she sits down to fix them "better than ever." The very last picture could be Timothy's dream, or his next adventure, and it's the perfect pendant piece for this wonderful, good-humored little book.

Timothy came to us through the editor Alison Green, who has her own imprint at our sister company Scholastic UK. Alison is a children's-books rock star in the UK for editing The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler among many other lovely picture books. (Editors in the UK usually specialize in either picture books or novels, in contrast to the United States, where we hardcover editors tend to be jacks-of-all-children's-book-trades.) Since I used to oversee the publication of all foreign imports for our imprint, I was put in charge of the U.S. edition of Timothy, but Viviane and Alison made such a perfect book that I had very little to do editorially besides remove the U's from "favourite" and turn the single-quote marks to doubles. Still, I loved looking at it every single time -- if only for the pleasure of saying "Fear not!" as quoted above -- and I'm immensely proud of the finished product. (If you see the book in person, note the special uncoated paper the interiors are printed on, and contrast that to the smooth, heavy paper of, say, The Light of the World; it's a subtle difference, but this is more right for Ms. Schwarz's easy, breezy watercolors, and I think it again underlines the child-friendliness of this book.)

Timothy was published earlier this month and has already received two starred reviews. I adore it mightily for the charm of its writing, illustration, and story, its effortless insight into childhood emotions, and Monkey's boundless enthusiasm; and I hope you become boundlessly enthusiastic about it too.

Want it? | B& | Powell's | Booksense

* I admit I do not know if baby seals are actually child-friendly. Approach at your own risk.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I am also pleased to report that The Blue Star by Tony Earley is just as beautiful and funny and poignant as Jim the Boy. I don't think I will have time to write a fuller review, alas, so I'll just say that Jim discovers girls -- or one girl in particular -- and has to wrestle with that pleasure and responsibility in the shadow of World War II. The particulars are so perfect that this very local and simple story becomes universal and heartbreaking; it's wonderful, and I cried. The first chapter's here (though eggh, reading it on the USA Today site really can't compare to reading it in a book), and a nice interview with Mr. Earley from a few years ago here.

(I will also note -- fodder for a future blog post -- that Mr. Earley has mastered the rhythm of language in creating fiction: His sentences get longer and faster and less punctuated when his characters are swept up in action or emotion, the same way Philip Pullman breaks up the lines when the sky splits open in The Golden Compass or Jennifer Crusie runs on every sentence in a sex scene. Mary Karr wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education years ago where she pointed out that you can understand T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land if you just read it out loud and listen to the rhythms and breaks, ignoring the footnotes entirely. The same thing happens in good prose: Every comma counts.)

Two Cool Applications

All you cool kids probably knew about these things already, but I didn't, so I will share. Direct from O, the Oprah Magazine, one of my favorite airport reads (a women's magazine with a book section! One that means it!):

  • Talkster, a phone service that lets you make free international calls -- even cell phone to cell phone -- in exchange for listening to a ten-second ad. KTBB and I tried it out today, and it's a little confusing to set up, but very cool if it works long term.
  • Google 411. Dial 1-800-GOOG-411 and put the power of Google to work from your phone. (The ArsTechnica blog says that Microsoft's LiveSearch 411 is superior, though: 1-800-CALL-411.)
Go forth and prosper.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Title and Tittle-Tattle

Some days, I think about retitling this blog "The Usual Crazy," as that would more accurately reflect the everyday state of my mind than the calm verdure of a Brooklyn Arden. I aspire to that verdure, though. The trees there would be gorgeous and arching and delicate, like the sycamores over Poets' Walk in Central Park, and everyone would lie on blankets reading books or toss Frisbees to happy dogs or do yoga. Mmm.

  • Returning to real life: I just accepted an invitation to speak at SCBWI-Illinois's fall conference in Chicago on November 15, 2008.
  • I'm also going to be speaking at SCBWI-New Jersey the first weekend in June. I don't know what topics I'll be covering for either one, so your suggestions are appreciated.
  • Actually, for June I was thinking I would do an updated submissions talk, since I haven't done one of those in -- yeesh! -- four years; or I would give the character speech again, since I haven't put it up on my website and therefore I can still use it. But I am a glutton for writing punishment, so if someone gives me a better idea I'll probably get all excited about that and go after it.
  • Elizabeth Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold is garnering marvelously good reviews, including a star from the BCCB. Yay Elizabeth!
  • Last Friday James and I went to the movies together. We both saw a film about attractive young people in New York City, only his involved a rampaging, greedy monster without any apparent motive for the destruction, and mine involved Bill Clinton. (Republicans, you can thank me for that opening later.) His was Cloverfield; mine was Definitely, Maybe (not to be confused with Lisa Yee's next novel Definitely Maybe -- hers doesn't have a comma, and that makes all the difference). While D,M was a little contrived, it was both non-cloyingly sweet and yet admirably realistic about the occasional pain and confusion of romantic relationships -- the fact that you grow into and out of some people, and sometimes the timing isn't right, and there can be more than one true love for you in life . . . Altogether, a charming, nicely grown-up romantic comedy; and when James and I met up again outside the theatre afterwards, we were both perfectly satisfied with our selections. You can read an interview with the screenwriter/director of D,M here.
  • I'm off to Chicago this weekend to visit my dear friend KTBB, who's in the country for a medieval history conference. We plan to see the Chris Raschka exhibit at the Art Institute and eat pizza while watching the Oscars.
  • My Oscar picks: "No Country for Old Men"; Daniel Day-Lewis; Julie Christie; Javier Bardem; and, let's see, Ruby Dee, as the surprise sentimental vote. The thing I'm most looking forward to is the musical performance of the song from "Once," though. Love "Once."
  • End of procrastinatory rambling.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Book Sale Redux and Lenten Reflections

I mentioned this in passing in a bullet point below, but it's really worth highlighting again: Park Slope United Methodist is holding its annual Book Sale this weekend, Saturday the 23rd from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday the 24th from 1-4 p.m. This is a fabulous event if you're a book lover, as the prices are cheap ($2 hardcover, $1 paperback) and the stock is plentiful and diverse -- I vow every year that I'm not allowed to buy anything until I've read everything I purchased the year before, and then of course I need Pale Fire or the Naomi Novik dragon books or Bel Canto (which I adored) or A Backward Glance . . . (You may remember my post on this from last year.) CDs, DVDs, videos, tapes, records, and puzzles are also for sale.

The church is also accepting donations for the sale this afternoon (Monday) from 12-7 p.m., Thursday from 7-10 p.m., and Friday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. The books, CDs, DVDs, records, etc. should be in good condition and not unsaleable (e.g. no The Collector's Guide to the Best Eight-Tracks of 1979, second edition, please). You can bring them to the church at 6th Avenue and 8th Street in Park Slope at any of the times mentioned above. Hope to see you there!

Finally, if you follow the traditional Christian church calendar, you know that we are now in the season of Lent. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, which does not practice Lent, so it's a tradition I've been learning about only in my past seven years as a Methodist; and while I am not a very good Lenten practitioner (Lentenee? Lentenizer?), I find the season's thinking about devotion, discipline, sacrifice, and service clarifying and challenging. This year I've been reading two blogs reflecting on the season:

  • Amoroma, where my friend and former Scholastic Store colleague Larry Litman shares words and pictures from the churches of Rome (where he now lives); and
  • The Park Slope United Methodist Church blog, where our pastor is posting excerpts from various writers, thinkers, and devotionals every day.
If I may say this without sounding insufferably stuffy and pretentious: Blessings to you in whatever you practice (or not) this time of year.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Your Patriotic Duty

Also, in case there is any doubt about Barack's love for you: Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happinesses (with Footnotes)*

Today weatherwise was a miserable day in New York, but I was all singin' in the rain because of these:

Boots! Or more specifically still: WELLIES! I got these for my birthday last year from my dear friend Rachel, and -- true story -- people have approached me on the street, said "Pink boots!", and walked away.

(When I was wearing the boots, I should add. Though it would be more marvelous still if I wasn't.)

Anyway, gentlemen, and ladies of that persuasion, if you are still looking for a gift for your ladylove tomorrow, I highly recommend a pair of brightly colored rainboots. They are practical, they are colorful, they keep you dry, they are a party for the feet. (Mine are from J. Crew, though you should be able to find a cute pair in a shoe store near you.) Hurrah!

And then, browsing the giveaway pile at work while making some copies, I found this:

I imagine certain readers just shrieked and said "Really? Really really?" like I did upon seeing this, for it is, indeed, a sequel to Jim the Boy by Tony Earley, truly one of the loveliest, sweetest, most poignant novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. After that book, I felt that Mr. Earley could legitimately claim the title of "the next E. B. White" for the purity of his prose and the delicacy of his emotional development. His humor! His characters! His understanding of boy psychology! His heartbreak! It's one of the few novels that I will buy an extra copy of whenever I see it in a used bookstore, just for the pleasure of giving it away** . . .

And I loved it so much I am absolutely terrified to read this sequel. It could be The Queen of Attolia and I'll love it more than the first book; it could be Rose Daughter*** and a case of diminishing returns. In either case, I think I will prolong my fears and try to finish***** one of the other books I'm reading before I take up this one. Still, it exists, and that mere fact is enough for a "Yay!"

* And sometimes, aren't footnotes a happiness all by themselves?
** The other novels in this category:
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian (though I always feel vaguely like giving this book to someone is giving them their first taste of crack for free), The Big Love by Sarah Dunn, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, and many (though not all) of the books on this list.
*** I must have read
Beauty by Robin McKinley ten times my sophomore year of high school -- my least-favorite year of high school, when my freshman-year friend group broke up and my crush started dating a freshman band bimbo**** -- and I adored The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword madly when I found them later (not to mention her short prose -- The Door in the Hedge is a terrific collection of retold fairy tales). Rose Daughter came out while I was in college, her first new novel since I discovered her, and I was terribly excited to read it, and terribly deflated when I was done. While I don't begrudge any author the right to make a stylistic change, Ms. McKinley's swing away from character and action toward lushness, symbolism, and to my eye, self-indulgence, really did not work for me, and Spindle's End confirmed me in this opinion. I haven't read a novel by her since. If I should pick one up, let me know.
**** All right, not a bimbo (actually now a real-estate agent, as I just discovered by Googling her). But it's fun to remember her like that.
***** Not "try and finish," which is grammatically incorrect, as a schoolteacher told us in a letter regarding Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, requesting that the "try and" construction not appear quite so much in Book 7. (We obliged her where possible.) I just spotted a "try and" in Barack Obama's Dreams from my Father, though, which is wonderfully written, with much truth and pain, if not well copyedited.
****** Thank you for putting up with my happy burbling.

Monday, February 11, 2008

You Know It's Time to Quit for the Day When . . .

. . . you're trying to write flap copy for a gorgeous, poetic, brilliantly imagined novel about a 13th-century pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and you find yourself typing this:

In this extraordinary novel, [author's name redacted] reveals a medieval world as rich and compelling as the contemporary world it foresees, and a character who KICKS ASS, baby. READ IT.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

There Will Be Milkshake Silliness

If you have seen the brilliant and inscrutable There Will Be Blood:

  • Todd Alcott analyzes the movie (in four parts) with regard to Daniel Plainview's motivation and psychology and the image systems of the movie.
  • You can listen to the "I drink your milkshake!" audio clip all day!
  • And have it bring all the boys to the yard. (They're like, it's better than yours.)
  • Damn right, it's better than yours.
  • I'd teach you, but I'd have to charge.
  • Ahem, sorry. Cool fact of the day: The milkshake line is actually rooted in real history -- the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s, when Senator Albert Fall explained oil drilling in the Senate by saying "If you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and my straw reaches across the room, I'll just end up drinking your milkshake." P.T. Anderson took that and ran. (Source.)
  • Finally: recipes.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Blogiversary Grab Bag (with Lots of Announcements, Invitations, and WOO-HOOs!)

  • The New York Giants! WOO-HOO!
  • The Light of the World just picked up its third starred review, this one from Publishers Weekly. Also WOO-HOO!
  • And A Curse Dark as Gold got a marvelous review from Bookshelves of Doom recently, following another lovely review from Teensreadtoo. There will be lots more on this book coming in the next month or so.
  • (And anyone who wants to buy me the "Wimsey & Vane 4eva" shirt from BoD is more than welcome to be so generous.)
  • The very funny Men of Jane Austen personal ads. I feel insulted on behalf of my dear Mr. Knightley -- he's behind Edmund Bertram, ugh. (Thanks to Jimmy for the link.)
  • A cool little thing for teachers and parents: The Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard, to help you find the right books at the right reading level for your students and kids.
  • I'm obsessed with politics right now, and loving Andrew Sullivan's blog on the Atlantic thanks to that. (He offers really cool non-political links too.)
  • And Barack! WOO-HOO! I went to an Obama march across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, and it was energizing and inspiring and so exciting to be out with other people who were equally fired up about the possibilities this candidate offers. I have never been involved in a political campaign this early before; I have never cared as much about one specific candidate as I do right now. And a great deal of that comes from the movement gathering around Barack, the sense that I personally can help make a difference today. At church recently, our excellent pastor pointed out that for all the candidates' talk about change, change only happens when there is a true people's movement behind it, as Martin Luther King Jr. and all his supporters created, as women did for decades leading up to the 19th Amendment and then again in the 1960s and 1970s. Our issues are more complicated today, the injustices less clear-cut, but Barack makes me want to take to the streets and help in whatever way I can, and that's why (or rather yet another reason why) I'm going to vote for him.
  • If you're undecided as to the Democratic candidates, I encourage you to read this fair-minded New Yorker article from a couple weeks ago, laying forth the two very different ideas of the presidency put forth by the two candidates. They're both good people, and I'll vote for either one in November; but Hillary, as a Clinton, carries so much partisan baggage both within and without -- the "vast right-wing conspiracy" both real and imagined -- that she cannot help but to perpetuate this partisan conflict as president. (And that's if she can defeat McCain, which I doubt, because he's more likely to attract the independent vote and anyone who worries about all the Bill complications.) Barack offers a different and, to my eye, more empowering and attractive vision of a presidency for everyone, and working with everyone -- the United and not the Democratic States of America.
  • Again, end of lecture.
  • Besides my political obsession, I'm also drowning in work right now, with the typeset pages of Fall 2008 books circulating, line-editing to do on Spring 2009 books, and concept editing on Summer 2009 and beyond -- not to mention acquisitions pending, Sales Conference coming up, and Spring and Summer 2008 publicity to help coordinate. Thus I'm a little behind on my SQUIDs, but I hope to get them all out by Presidents' Day.
  • An eBay question: How does one set a high bid and not have it show up in the bidding? I'm trying to purchase some lots of Georgette Heyer Regency romances -- my favorite dessert reading of the moment -- but often I'll put in a bid (say, $10.54) above the current stated high bid (say, $9.27), only to be told I've been outbid on that item, with no record of what this high bid actually is. Could someone explain to me how this happens?
  • Mark your calendars: The Park Slope United Methodist Church book sale will be Saturday, February 23, and the afternoon of Sunday, February 24. If you'd like to donate books, you can do that on Monday the 18th or the evenings of the 21st and 22nd. This is an awesome event for either donating books or picking up new ones -- I hope you all will come!
  • And if you're a Carleton College alum living in New York, don't forget the Nationwide Trivia event this coming Saturday, 3 p.m. at Mad River Bar & Grill on the Upper East Side. New York has a title to defend!
  • If you're coming to New York for the national SCBWI conference, you may be interested in this list of my favorite NYC things to do from last year (plus lots of great suggestions from other people). I'll be at the cocktail party Friday night and Betsy's drink night after.
  • And if you feel a desire to attend religious services Sunday morning, you're also welcome to come to my wonderful, unusual church, Park Slope United Methodist in Brooklyn. You take the F train to 7th Ave. in Brooklyn, then walk downhill to 6th Ave., turn right, and the church is at the corner of 6th Ave. & 8th St. Sunday services are at 11 a.m. (This invitation is also always open to any interested New Yorkers.)
  • Upcoming on the blog: A joint review of The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (hint: one has a much higher body count); a response to Jon's request for thoughts on the editor/author relationship; writing notes from Kindling Words; some great recipes; my mindfulness resolutions; more behind-the-book stuff; a whole new set of poems in April; and doubtless much goofiness.
  • Today, February 4, is the third anniversary of the reconstitution of this blog, and what a fun three years it's been. Thanks to you all for reading!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Click Lit: The Legend of the Wandering King

I wrote this essay a long time ago for a Scholastic promotional newsletter, and the permalink thus far has been on Arthur's blog, way down at the bottom of the page. But as I link to the essay from my books-I've-edited page on (and I can never mention that URL without wanting to laugh), I'd like to have a more stable location for it, so I am reposting it here. Feel free to ignore it and carry on with your day, though you should read the book -- it's lovely.

July 25, 2005 -- Every reader knows the click. It’s that moment in a book when you give yourself up to it, when you say “yes” and surrender to the world and the characters. It’s when you shut the door, turn off the e-mail, and take the phone off the hook; it’s going through the wardrobe, down the rabbit hole, into the secret garden, on the Hogwarts Express. It is, in short, the moment you fall in love with a book, and of all of reading’s many pleasures, it’s perhaps the most thrilling and addictive.

Every editor knows the click too. For me it happens when I recognize a gesture or a feeling in a book, something real from the range of human experience (often, though not always, my own experience): when I encounter something true. And of all the wonderful things I get to do as an editor, I have to say the click moment is perhaps the most exciting part of my job, because not only do I fall in love with a book, I know I’ll get to share it with other readers as well.

In the spring of 2002, my boss Arthur Levine brought back a brilliant new novel from the Bologna Book Fair, about an Arabian prince who longs to be a poet and an fabulous, deadly, enchanted carpet. Because the book was written in Spanish, Arthur asked Macarena Salas, an editor with Scholastic en Español, to read the book for us. She adored it. He asked Dan Bellm, an award-winning poet and translator, to translate three chapters for us. Dan gladly obliged. And when we received the pages, they included these lines describing the power of poetry:

"Everyone who was present that day could sense that words had a mysterious magical power, that they could reach the heart and make the oldest things new again, over and over, if only one used them with feeling and passion. And once the audience understood this, they never forgot it."

A truth expressed in a way we’d never imagined it before. And just like that: click.

The book was The Legend of the Wandering King by Laura Gallego García, and Arthur A. Levine Books is proud to be publishing the complete novel this coming August. Legend tells the story of Prince Walid of Kinda, a handsome, courteous, charming young man who longs to attend the great poetry competition at Ukaz. But his kingdom boasts one greater poet than he-a poor carpet-weaver named Hammad-and out of jealousy, Walid curses him to create an impossible work of art: a carpet showing the history of the entire human race. Hammad dies weaving it. Men go mad seeing it. And when it is stolen, Walid discovers his life’s quest: to recover the carpet and earn forgiveness for his mistakes.

The book has a marvelous background in historical fact: Walid’s story was inspired by the life of Imru’l Qays, a real prince of Kinda in the late fifth century C.E. Laura mentions Qays in her author's note, and I had a wonderful time fact-checking his biography: Qays was twice kicked out of his father's court for writing erotic poetry; he went on a mad and successful quest for revenge against his father's murderers, a tribe called the Banu Asad; he did indeed win the poetry competition at Ukaz; and legend has it that Emperor Justinian I sent him a poisoned cloak -- which killed him -- for winning the love of the Emperor's daughter. Stories like this, almost better than fiction (poisoned cloaks!!!), are exactly what make me love history (emphasis on the "story"); and I loved The Legend of the Wandering King all the more for introducing me to him.

And I loved the resolution Laura brings to her story as well, where Walid finally sees the pattern of his life unfolding like the pattern in that magical, entrancing carpet. The Legend of the Wandering King is about pride, about fate, about the choices we make that determine the direction of the rest of our lives, and about our ability to reverse those choices by making other ones: about the freedom we have to decide our lives every moment we live them. I moved to New York from the Midwest in 2000 basically on a dare from Dave Eggers: I read a piece in Harper's Magazine where he was asked by a college-age fan how he (I quote) "kept his shit real," and he responded that there was no real shit or unreal shit -- there was only saying "yes" to opportunities whenever they came. I had an opportunity; I made my choice; and it's resulted in my life as it is now, unpredictable and wonderful. And the opportunities continue: I could meet my future husband on the way to lunch; I could break my leg falling down the Scholastic staircase on the way back from lunch; I could get the next Harry Potter in the mail this afternoon. Legend not only reminded me of those first heady weeks in New York in 2000, it reminds me that that time, those chances and possibilities, happen every day of my life.

And, I’m delighted to say, it’s absolutely crammed with click moments. I hope it might click with you too.