When I last wrote, my husband Alan and I were setting out for our annual anniversary trek, this year to Norway. I’m happy to report we made it and have returned. This 37th anniversary found us 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the Lofotan Islands of Norway. Our traditional rigorous hike was beautiful, up a remote rocky path overlooking the sea with a wicked wind whipping at our faces. I slipped in the mud, Alan shot pictures, and we looked out on beautiful glacial valleys and isolated farms. Here are a few snapshots. If I look cold, I wasn’t. I was freezing. I guess that’s why they call it the Arctic Circle and not The Bahamas.
ALMOST IDENTICAL #4 RELEASED
The last volume of my Almost Identical series was released on July 11 and is currently available at bookstores and online. Called Twice as Nice, it concludes the story of Sammie and Charlie Diamond, twin twelve year old girls who go through the struggles so many kids in seventh grade experience---finding new friends, dealing with peer pressure, trying to figure out who you are at the core. The plot centers on a cyber-bullying episode, something many kids are having to deal with. I hated to say goodbye to Sammie and Charlie, but they’re growing up nicely and don’t need me anymore.
HERE’S HANK DEBUTS
HERE’S HANK, a prequel to the HANK ZIPZER series written by Henry Winkler and me, hit the marketplace in February with the launch of the first two titles, BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO and A LONG TAIL ABOUT A SHORT DOG. Intended to appeal to chapter book readers, the HERE’S HANK books are the first in the United States to use the Dyslexie Font, designed by Christian Boer, a Dutch graphic designer. The font makes it easier for people with dyslexia to distinguish individual letters, and makes it easier for all kids---not just those with dyslexia---to read faster, more easily and with fewer errors. We are so proud to play a role in making reading pleasurable for kids. Here’s what the font looks like.
Oh, and did I mention this? Our publisher Grosset & Dunlap has just signed up to do four more HERE'S HANK books, which when added to the four we’ve already written, will total eight. We’re thrilled.
NEW POETRY COLLABORATION FROM LIN AND TOMIE
Due to the critical and sales success of LITTLE POEMS FOR TINY EARS, which debuted in February, Nancy Paulsen books (an imprint of Penguin Group USA) has already signed up a second poetry collection from Tomie dePaola and me. It will be called STEPPIN’ OUT: PLAYFUL RHYMES FOR TODDLER TIMES and will focus on new toddler experiences like birthday parties, first haircuts and eating with utensils. This collaboration with Tomie on these poetry books is a dream come true for me. And, as an extra bonus, we had a great time touring for LITTLE POEMS…we ate our way up and down the West Coast, with a highlight being the Burrata Gnocchi at Zuni Café in San Francisco. Oh my, was it ever worth the five pounds!
HANK ZIPZER TV SERIES ZIPS INTO SECOND BBC SEASON
This summer, the BBC will begin production of the second season of the HANK ZIPZER: WORLD’S BEST UNDERACHIEVER television series. The show airs on CBBC (the children’s BBC network) and the first season was a huge success, with the show ranking Number 4 in all children’s shows in Great Britain. Henry Winkler stars as Mr. Rock, with a British cast of great kids who wear gray blazers and ties to school. Despite that, they are all very relatable---kids are kids the world around. I hope someday soon that American TV audiences will get to experience HANK too.
AUGUST SCBWI CONFERENCE GEARS UP
I’m spending a lot of time right now preparing for the August SCBWI conference held in Los Angeles on August 1-4. It’s a massive event, with over 1,000 people attending. The faculty is comprised of over 20 agents and editors, plus a collection of master authors and illustrators that literally boggles the mind and heart. Check it out at scbwi.org. Among the things I’m most looking forward to are: a)being a student at the conference and taking (my idol) Meg Rosoff’s intensive in writing from your unconscious mind b) celebrating Tomie dePaola’s 80th birthday with a poolside gala called “A Night in Old Italy, c) meeting up with old friends and new ones and (d) helping to launch the many new careers that are born there, and (e) the rubber chicken breast at the luncheon.
Which of these is not true? Here’s a clue. It starts with the letter E!
AMAZON STUDIOS ORDERS PILOT OF GHOST BUDDY
Amazon Studios has optioned the four books in the GHOST BUDDY series written by Henry Winkler and me to develop as a half hour comedy show for kids. GHOST BUDDY is a comedy-adventure series about twelve year old Billy Broccoli who discovers that he has a 99 year old teenage ghost living in his house---our homage to what was one of my favorite TV shows growing up, Topper. Anyone remember it? QUIZ: What was Topper’s first name? ANSWER CLUE: It was Carrie Bradshaw’s beverage of choice on SEX IN THE CITY. We are writing the pilot now. It’s been several years since I’ve written for television but slowly I’m re-discovering the groove……at least, I hope I am. There are so few words on the page compared to a novel. But then, we all know shorter is harder to do, right? We turn the script in at the end of summer and then Amazon gets to decide whether or not to produce the pilot. Oh, and the answer is Cosmo.
My husband Alan and I have a long standing tradition---every year on our wedding anniversary (June 26) we go for a humungous exotic walk followed by a luxurious dinner. Over the years, we’ve walked the length of Manhattan, the entire (25 mile) Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles from downtown to the beach, the circumference of the island of Monhegan Island in Maine, the 17 mile drive in Carmel, the coastal footpath in Cornwall. Last year, we walked around West Lake in Hangzhou, China. This year we’re heading for Norway for a fiord walk. (He suggested a glacier walk with crampons, but I vigorously objected.) I imagine we’ll follow that up with a luxurious reindeer dinner. I’ve been trying to teach him how to say “My heart speaks the language of love” in Norwegian---which if you’re interested is---Hjertet mitt snakker kjaerlighetens sprak.” Now he’s vigorously objecting.
I’ll post pictures soon so you can see if we made it to another year.
Alan and I walk around West Lake in Hangzhou, China on our 36th anniversary last year.