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Secret Life of Animals Video Link

Lita Secret Life of Animals


The Secret Life of Animals

Last week we traveled down to the Boston area so Lita could tape an interview on The Secret Life of Animals with Vicki Croke. The show will be airing on Sunday August 2nd on NECN (New England Cable News) at 11:30am and 6:30pm. Vicki has a couple of Irish Wolfhounds that roam the set, and last week a 3rd Wolfhound joined, along with a Dachshund and one other dog. What fun!

With Vicki Croke and Large Friend

They talked about Pennies for Elephants and introduced Yellowstone Moran. It was chaos when the taping was over -- they cut it close -- 2 minutes before the live news at noon was to start, in the same studio we were in! The news anchor lady and a bunch of the crew came storming in and we all grabbed dogs and dog treats and kids and food bowls and whatever we could carry and quickly got out of the studio as the anchor lady sat down in her pink pants suit. And the crew were screaming about chroma screens, and the TV cameras on robotic stands were whizzing around with minds of their own. When we got out in the hallway there was a big TV set up and suddenly the anchor lady was on and she was cool as could be. And we thought we could see some dog hair floating in the background, behind her. Vicki is the author of several books including The Lady and the Panda (I think this is an older cover):

The Lady and the Panda

Also (in other news), there was a nice feature about Lita, Pennies for Elephants and Yellowstone Moran on the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog this Sunday. And last week we saw a wonderful Pennies for Elephants review from Pam Coughlan (aka Mother Reader) on PBS Booklights.


ALA Chicago, Sunday July 12

Lita is off to Chicago tomorrow for an event filled Sunday at the ALA annual summer conference. First, she's thrilled that Disney-Hyperion invited her, Kadir Nelson and E. Lockhart to the Caldecott/Newbery Banquet on Sunday night! It'll be Lita's first time at ALA and first time at the banquet. Very exciting! But before that, she's got a full Sunday of events. Here's her schedule -- in the morning she's participating in the following program with authors Anne Sibley O'Brien, and Phillip Hoose, librarian, Kelley McDaniel and children's book advocate, Kirsten Cappy (click on the picture for a pdf of the handout):


Inspiring Young Citizens: The Library as a Forum for Engagement Sunday, 7/12/09 10:30 am - 12:00 pm ALA Annual Conference McCormick Place West, W-190B Chicago, IL How do we excite young readers with possibilities for remaking their world without burdening them with responsibility beyond their years? Authors Lita Judge, Anne Sibley O'Brien, and Phillip Hoose, librarian, Kelley McDaniel and children's book advocate, Kirsten Cappy will share books, strategies, and book-specific educational curriculum for engaging young people in age-appropriate social issues and actions. Applications will focus on historical figures and movements that inspire contemporary youth. Then Book signings in the afternoon: Lita Judge Signing, Pennies for Elephants and One Thousand Tracings Sunday, 7/12 from 2:30 - 3:30 PM Disney-Hyperion, Booth #2247 Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West Sunday, 7/12 from 1:30 – 2:00 PM Penguin, Booth #2120/2122 So if you're at ALA I hope you get a chance to connect!

Macdowell Downtown: Brian Selznick

We're lucky, here in Peterborough, to have the thriving Macdowell Colony. Writers, artists, composers, photographers, filmmakers and sculptors come to Peterborough to live in one of the 32 studios at the retreat. Once accepted, an artist can stay for as little as a couple of weeks, or as long as a couple of months. When they arrive, they find a kind of isolation -- there's no phone, no internet, no fax, and no family. It's just a cabin in the woods.

Macdowell Colony (Alexander Studio at Macdowell Colony. Photo credit: Victoria Sambunaris)

And there's a famous tradition: every day your picnic basket lunch is silently delivered to the doorstep of your cabin.

( Photo credit: Victoria Sambunaris)

In the history of the colony there have been over 6000 supported artists in residence, and in 2007, the colony celebrated its centennial with a yearlong celebration.

About once a month the Macdowell Colony sponsors a current resident at a downtown event. And this month it was Brian Selznick! Brian gave a very visual and entertaining talk and covered some of our favorite books, including The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, Walt Whitman and, of course, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

It was great to see a huge turnout and variety of age groups -- very young, medium young, young and old. As a finale he showed the movie A Trip to the Moon, by Georges Méliès, and he provided the words while a cellist from the colony (I missed her name)  performed accompanying music. It was quite funny, and fantastic!

He also talked about what he's working on while he's at the Colony (I'll repeat here what was in the announcement for the talk):

Familiar now with the rewards of risk-taking on the heels of Hugo’s success, Selznick remains interested in seeing what else he can do with books. “I like taking what I’ve learned and doing something new with it.” His current novel-in-progress, Wonderstruck, is a fitting example: Though it will feature visuals in a prominent and inventive way (much like Hugo), it will also weave together two separate stories that take place in two different time frames. “One story, which takes place in the 1920s, will be told entirely in pictures,” reveals Selznick, who is hesitant to give away too much about the book’s plot. “The other, from the 1970s, will be told with words.” Wonderstruck is scheduled to be released in 2011.



Lita and I just returned from England and jumped back into the world with last week's release of Pennies for Elephants! Pennies for Elephants We've seen a few nice reviews so far in the local paper, at The Miss Rumphius Effect, and in the Concord Monitor. But let's go back to England for a moment. We pulled the plan together quickly after Lita got the green light on a new book. The book is about Walter Rothschild, a member of the famous banking family, who as a 7 year old announced to his parents that he was going to build a museum. He was born a few years after Darwin's On the Origin of Species and, like Darwin, he collected bugs, butterflies, birds, fish, reptiles, plants, live animals and animal specimens. He eventually did work for the family bank, but he also followed his dream of opening his museum, and with the help of two curators and many explorers, Walter created the largest natural history collection ever gathered by one person. It became one of the most important collections for proving many of Darwin's theories, and is still used extensively today for DNA studies. The trip was part research, part vacation. We started our England trip at Kew Gardens to get some visual reference of strange plants and Victorian greenhouses. Kew Gardens Then we spent a few days at the Walter Rothschild's Tring Museum, which is now part of the British Natural History Museum. Lita at Tring Museum And finally we spent seven beautiful days up in the Lake district where we hiked about 7-10 miles every day, enjoyed afternoon teas, and visited Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm, and the Beatrix Potter gallery in Hawkshead. The picture below is from a glorious hike above the Borrowdale Valley. I'm not sure there's ever been such perfect weather in northwest England! Borrowdale Lita has a busy summer schedule. In July we're hoping to get down to Manhattan, then she'll be at ALA in Chicago, then an SCBWI conference near Baltimore. And we've got a bunch of other events in the works for the summer! We're ready for another vacation...

Springtime in England

Lita just finished her last couple of classroom visits for this school year and we're heading to England tomorrow! I was unloading pictures off the digital camera and found these images from our November 2003 trip to England.



North Yorkshire

That trip was to the Cotswolds and then up to North Yorkshire. We had a lot of rain but also some beautiful, moody weather. We were also in England about 18 months ago. I remember lots of miles of hiking (I think we did 100 miles in 10 days) and also lots of scones and clotted cream on that trip! This time we'll be near London for a few days of research for a book, and then we head up to the Lake District.

When we get back, Pennies for Elephants will be released! Lita's doing a talk and book signing event at our local Peterborough Toadstool Bookshop on June 13th at 2pm, so if you're in the area, please come -- we'll bring some pictures of England too!


Pennies for Elephants website

We just put the finishing touches on a mini website for Pennies for Elephants.

Lita Judge Pennies for Elephants

One of the main characters in the story is a little newsboy so we've put together some great Lewis Hine photographs of newsboys (and newsgirls). Luckily these images are all in the public domain and available through Flickr -- really amazing photographs.


The research section includes several pages of headlines and pictures from the Boston Post Newspaper. Pennies for Elephants is based on true events that occurred in 1914. The Boston Post covered the story from March to June, with several articles and pictures every day. We captured these images (back in 2007 when Lita was researching the story) by taking digital pictures of the screen of the microfilm reader -- they look better than I expected!

Newspaper images -- Pennies for Elephants

And we've included some fun old pictures of Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox in 1912. The guy on the top-left is Smoky Joe Wood who won 34 games for Boston in 1912, and had 3 wins in the World Series (which Boston won against the old New York Giants).

Boston Red Sox in 1912

We're expecting the first shipment of Pennies for Elephants to arrive this week at the New Hampshire Educational Media Association Conference (NHEMA) where Lita is giving the luncheon keynote on Friday.


State Reading Award Lists

One Thousand Tracings has been added to several 2009-2010 State Reading Award lists including the Prairie Pasque Award in South Dakota, the William Allen White Children's Book Award in Kansas, and the Misouri Show Me Readers Award. It was also on the list for the 2008-2009 North Carolina Children's Book Award (NCCBA).

Prairie Pasque

William White

Show Me

North Carolina NCCBA

Most of these are lists of about 10-12 books—I believe all of these are voted on by school kids from 1st to 5th grades (varies by award). It's great that so many kids will be reading Tracings! I added some links to the award logos above for more information on each of these. It's really an amazing honor for Lita and Tracings to be included on such fantastic lists of books! Thanks Missouri, North Carolina, South Dakota and Kansas!


School and Library Programs for 2009-2010

Lita just returned from a fantastic two day school visit in Danville, NH where she received a nice write-up in the local paper. Just last week we finished her new 2009-2010 School Visit Packet. It has all the information for planning the perfect school visit!

School Visits by Author/Illustrator Lita Judge

Lita has added three new talks to her school visit program:
  • Pennies for Elephants—Connecting students to local news by becoming a part of it
  • Digging Deep to Find Interesting Sources for Historical Stories
  • Yellowstone Moran—Journaling and Sketching
And she will continue to offer these three talks:
  • Path to becoming an author and illustrator
  • The Story Behind One Thousand Tracings
  • Daydreams, Digs and Dinosaurs!
For all of the new information, including descriptions of all the presentations and how to tailor them to meet the needs of diverse groups, download and print the school visit packet here or check out the School Visits section at

Lita at Danville School

Danville: Danville Elementary School third-grader Jacob Post, 9, listens as author/illustrator Lita Judge shows how rough sketches become finished artwork in a presentation Monday at the school. Jan Seeger /Eagle Tribune Staff Photographer

The House in the Night

Our 175 year old Peterborough Town Library had a fun event a few days ago to celebrate Beth Krommes, the 2009 Randolph Caldecott Medal winner. Beth is a good friend of ours and lives in Peterborough, just down the road from us. She and Lita usually drive together to our two annual southern NH children's book events: The Keene Children Literature Festival and the SCBWI Nashua Conference. (This year they're both featured speakers at the Keene Festival.) The House in the Night is such a beautiful book—here's our new copy with the Caldecott sticker: The House in the Night I spent most of the night talking with Beth's husband, Dave, about software and websites and blogs. Dave designed Beth's new site last summer. website We're looking forward to Beth's ALA speech—I've heard it may have some reference to the ice storm and 10 day power outage we experienced in Peterborough in December. Lita will be at the ALA conference this summer ... ALA but we're not sure if she'll be able to attend the awards ceremony.