A Review of When Green Becomes Tomatoes

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First of all, go pre-order Julie Fogliano’s When Green Becomes Tomatoes right this minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait. It comes out March 1, so you can also run-don’t-walk next Tuesday and get it at your local independent bookstore.

Okay, well done. You’ll thank me!

Now I’ll tell you a little story about this gem of a book…

Bright Eyes has a language delay and my big genius therapeutic plan is to talk to him pretty much non-stop. I’m from New Jersey, so constant talking isn’t much of a stretch for me. I did the same with Tariku when he was learning to talk, before he got wicked sick of my yammering and retaliated by getting really into dinosaurs and math and things about which I have exactly nothing to say. Touchè.

I never actually expect Bright Eyes to pay any real attention, unless I slip in words like COOKIES or FROZEN or GRANDMA. I’m not really concerned- I figure just the sound of the language helps.

So the other day as we were straightening up, I told him all about my best childhood girlfriend, and how she used to write me notes in class, telling me wonderful stories. I told him she lives in a magical farmhouse in the Hudson Valley with her family and still writes terrific stories for kids (like this one and this one), and that she has a new beautiful book of poetry coming out about which I’m so excited.

Then, when we were picking out our bedtime books, he said, “I want the book about the little girl.”

“What little girl?”

“You. The little girl you.”

“Do you mean the book written by my friend from when I was a little girl?”

“Yeah. That girl.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

“You were listening!”

“Um. Yeah.”

Bright Eyes apparently has no sarcasm delay. So that’s good news.

We got my advance copy of When Green Becomes Tomatoes off the shelf and began to read.

Initially, I thought it was a bit advanced for him conceptually, but it didn’t seem to matter. He was enchanted. As with all good poetry, each stanza we read spiraled into new thoughts and questions. When Green Becomes Tomatoes is a book of children’s poetry, arranged by seasons and presented in diary form. As we read it, Bright Eyes and I wound up talking about rainstorms and falling leaves and flowers and colors and endings and beginnings.

The poems carry echoes of ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Emily Dickinson. They’re both bold and delicate, broad and deep. Julie’s words sparkle, as they always have, with the magic that comes along with close attention to the world around us. And Julie Morstad’s illustrations are just lovely. I’ve read it cover to cover and I know it’s destined to be a classic, loved by kids and grown-ups alike.

I’m just so darn proud of my dear friend. It has been one of the great blessings of my life to know her and get glimpses into her remarkable inner life. I’m thrilled that the rest of the world now gets to know her, too, through her timeless work.

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Wrap it up!

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At my office, my desk faces the glamorous and funny Annabelle Gurwitch, who always has some handy green mom tips. I wanted to share with you my favorite, because it’s adorable and eliminates the need to buy wrapping paper for the twelve billion birthday parties you’ll go to this year. You know that unwieldy stack of drawings and paintings you stuff under the bed or in a drawer or next to the washing machine? Use them as wrapping paper. Isn’t it so chic?

As for gift suggestions, I always give books. You can’t have too many. My close friend from childhood, Julie Fogliano, has written two children’s books: And Then It’s Spring and If You Want to See a Whale. They’re illustrated by Erin Stead (of A Sick Day for Amos McGee) and they’re sweet and surprising and gorgeous. If you haven’t read them yet, you should!

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Better than Our Plan to Marry Joey Ramone

Just catching up on posting now because life-ing has been getting in the way.

Last installment of our New York diaries, we were on our way to Hudson for my reading at The Spotty Dog and to see my bestest oldest girlfriend and her ridiculously adorable family (that’s me and Jules and her latest bun in the oven).

Julie and I spent many an adolescent afternoon rolling our eyes at the antics of her younger sister Hollie, who was sulking in the next room over. Here we all are, a mere 20-odd years later.

And here are our sons. There’s something so poignant and cyclical about it. Don’t make me get all Lion King on you and start singing…

I was privileged to finally set eyes on a galley copy of Julie’s upcoming children’s book, And Then It’s Spring– out in February from Roaring Brook Press. It’s perfectly illustrated by Erin Stead, whom you may know from A Sick Day for Amos McGee.

This book- it’s special. It brought tears to my eyes the first time I ever saw the text of it (which was in an email from Julie a couple of years ago) and I got all blubbery again when I saw it paired with Erin’s delicate, pitch-perfect illustrations.

Julie has been writing me stories since the seventh grade. Those tended to involve things like us both running off together with Joey Ramone, so her subject matter is slightly different now. But her wild inventiveness and sensitivity are the same as they’ve always been.

I can’t wait for the world to meet Julie and her work. You’re going to love her.

Feelin’ Groovy in Woodstock

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We spent Halloween week in New York and it was T-Bone’s third trip there this year. If I never have to fly with a cranky 20 month old kid again it’ll be too soon, but once we were there we had some great moments. Grandma took us to the Museum of Natural History and T thought the whale hanging from the ceiling was the coolest airplane he’d ever seen.

I was devastated that we had to leave our Tim Burton-esque ‘hood and forego our usual spooky festivities, but I was glad to be able to smell autumn in Central Park and see the fiery foliage along the Palisades Parkway as we drove up to Woodstock to spend the holiday with my dear friend, Julie, and her beautiful family.

Julie and I have known each other since we stalked the Beastie Boys together in junior high and she has always had a little bit of fairy dust in her pockets at all times. It’s hard to explain. You just get the feeling that where Julie lives, there’s bound to be a rabbit hole out back that will drop you right into some magical alternate universe. She just sold her first children’s book and I was privileged enough to see an early version. It’s going to be massive.

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When T and I got in the car to drive to Woodstock, I was positively vibrating with anxiety. Family drama, final edits, travel with a jet lagged Wild Thing baby…I felt about ready to fold. We left Julie’s house the next day and I was set right again. T ate caramel apples and partied with a marauding crew of kids in the afternoon and then we trick-or-treated in the rain, which he thought was the most hilarious thing ever.

T never did wear his lion costume. He stayed in his skeleton jammies all day. He seemed so happy that I didn’t want to screw it up.

Scott had to stay behind to play a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. He had his own Halloween fun. He said the crowd was awesome and he’s always glad when he gets to wear his big stuffed insect costume.

The guys also played two nights of Letterman while we were there. And, Oh, the irony…. just before I went to sit in the Letterman green room, my fantastically courageous and brilliant friend Nell Scovell published this article in Vanity Fair about the unfriendly attitude toward women writers in late-night-tv and particularly the hostile work environment at (you guessed it) good ol’ Dave’s. It’s a fair and witty and solution-oriented article and I’m just so proud of that gal I could cry.