Tag Archives: Festival of Books

Uncovering Great Stories …

24 Apr

Celebrating words and their magical effect on our lives under the California sun created a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

Every year, we find our way through the mazes of people and books to create our own weekend adventure. Sometimes the moments are simple, other times they’re exciting fireworks style encounters, either way we always look forward to this book lover’s tradition.

We look forward to what this festival will uncover. Sometimes it’s all about meeting a special author, other times it’s about discovering a new story, or running into my kid’s favorite super hero, sometimes it’s about exploring the science stations, or cooking demonstrations, and sometimes it’s about witnessing a great performance on stage. This weekend we were lucky enough to experience it all, although the Caped Crusader was missing … probably solving a crime though.

It was our yearly outing to the Festival of Books and the fact that we didn’t have a meltdown definitely ranked as a Top-10 Outing.

But the one special surprise that snuck its way into our hearts was discovering The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now if you know anything about kids, you know that rock, paper, scissors is a major tie-breaker decision maker around here. So when we uncovered the origins of this very funny story, mom scored some points. If you have kids I strongly encourage you to read this one. The fact that we met the author and got it signed? Mom got a high-five for that one. The fact that we got four of our books signed? Yup. It was chocolate time.

So as I sat there on the grass, under a tree, listening to the band on the nearby stage, unloading our reading treasures and eating the goods from our homemade picnic, I thought … definitely a moment to be captured on film. Definitely a moment to be grateful for … definitely a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

 

IMG_8081

The Adventure begins …

IMG_8069

Checking out some authors …

 

IMG_8039

Hitting the stage to rock some children’s music …

IMG_8072

I loved checking out this wall … can you find ours?

 

IMG_8058

My kids thought this would be a great book for me …

 

IMG_8050

I decided to pick that up plus a couple of freebies 🙂

IMG_8086

We stopped by to spread some kindness during our book loving tour …

IMG_8067

Before departing we left our mark on the wall of books …

IMG_8085

Our awesome loot at the end of the day …

Yup … it was a 10 out of 10. High five mom.

 

 

For The Love of Books

20 Apr

Every year we venture off to explore the multitude of books and literary culture at the Festival of Books, and we come home inspired by the stories of Jedis, Batman, Wonder Woman, Frozen Princesses, and regular toddlers and zoo animals out there to save the world.

It’s a great trip, but also a marathon of events for parents, which can definitely wear you out by noon. Everything that is fun for kids and has a massive crowd tends to wear me out. And if meltdowns happen the adventure proves to be even more challenging.

Every year I wish for no meltdowns and I come prepared with Go-Gurt … you know one for snack time and lunch, and plenty of Ritz crackers, sandwiches, granola bars, pretzels, cheese sticks, and juice boxes. But for some reason some inciting incident happens and it burns somebody out.

However I’m happy to report that this weekend was meltdown free!

Oh! For the love of books! Having a smooth day felt pretty great. I felt like a successful parent.

Here’s our adventure.

We scoped out the scene and the kids took the lead. They scouted for the children book tents and found them right away.

We scoped out the scene and the kids took the lead. They scouted for the children book tents and found them right away.

.

As we walked passed a few tents we noticed the WriteBrain tents, where storytelling is born.

As we walked passed a few tents we noticed the WriteBrain tents, where storytelling is born.

.

My son found his creative side.

My son found his creative side.

.

After writing his story, he was called on to read his masterpiece. I loved the ending when the evil jellyfish drowned.

After writing his story, he was called on to read his masterpiece. I loved the ending when the evil jellyfish drowned. My daughter’s story involved a SuperGirl who saved the day from a bully who threw paper airplanes on the school bus.

.

Then we headed off to the dreamer section where my kids decided to write down their favorite travel destination, my daughter chose the moon.

Then we headed off to the dreamer section where my kids decided to write down their favorite travel destination, my daughter chose the moon.

.

We then headed to the main event, where Batman read Skyscraper Showdown.

We then headed to the main event, where Batman read Skyscraper Showdown.

.

At the end he was able to meet the author and gave me his best Justice League pose.

At the end he was able to meet the author and practice his best Justice League pose for the picture.

.

While waiting for the next reading, we were treated to some awesome Ballet Folklorico dance moves.

While waiting for the next reading, we were treated to some awesome Ballet Folklorico dance moves. I was inspired to let me inner La Chona out.

.

After all the Batman action and dancing, we raced back to the children's area to see if we could still catch the person responsible for one of my son's favorite series...Captain Underpants. It was the longest line ever, but it was worth the wait as Dav Pilkey signed and created a sketch in his book.

After all the Batman action and dancing, we raced back to the children’s area to see if we could still catch the person responsible for one of my son’s favorite series…Captain Underpants. It was the longest line ever, but it was worth the wait as Dav Pilkey signed and created a sketch for my son’s book.

.

At the end of the day we picked up some free swag and I've got to say out of all the highlights of the day, getting a bag with this written on it was great. I was reminded to be better.

At the end of the day we bought some exciting books and picked up some free swag, and I’ve got to say out of all the highlights of the day, getting a bag with this written on it was high on the list. I was reminded to be better. Hanging out with books all day will do that to you.

.

.

Sanbox List Adventure 29: Meeting Your Hero

14 Apr

We have 13 of them.

Over the past year we’ve collected 13 of them. We started with three and now we have 13. I’m sure the count is gonna keep on rising. Apparently the Cape Crusader is the best superhero on Earth, even though he doesn’t actually have superhero powers, he’s super skilled in martial arts and has all kinds of gadgets to assist his crime fighting capabilities.

So it was of the utmost important that we didn’t miss meeting him.

At last year’s Festival of Books, we witnessed the awesomeness of The Justice League read one of their adventures on stage, but failed to meet them in person, which did not go over well with the kids. Luckily I was able to distract them with snacks, samples, superhero books, Captain Underpants, Scooby-Doo, and other scavenger hunt prizes.

I was packing light this year, and didn’t think sandwiches, Cutie oranges, cheese sticks, and graham crackers would cut it. So I was determined to weave my way in and out of the overheated masses and their cranky parents to reach the Meet-and-Greet line. I was on a mission to make the introduction. I was on a mission to make a Sandbox List Adventure come true.

So I was a little worried when a guy wearing a batman t-shirt and cap came on stage to read Skyscraper Showdown. I didn’t see Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, or Batman. Don’t get me wrong the guy was quite animated and very into the story, but he had nothing on the Cape Crusader.

I began to worry as my son asked me for the third time where Batman was and my daughter was wondering when Flash or Wonder Woman were going to show up … but then just as the Joker was about to escape … he showed up and the crowd went wild. Apparently it was one of the best readings we attended. And even though Batman was the only superhero there, my daughter followed her brother’s lead and enjoyed the book.

But the magic of reading didn’t stop there.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the books, going on adventures that can only happen with literary magic, listening to music, and meeting all kinds of authors. It was one of the best Sandbox List Adventures this year. I know that because they’re still talking about it.

 

We got there early and saddled-up for an awesome adventure.

We got there early and saddled-up for an awesome adventure.

 

One of our first stops was the checking out the featured band ... that woke everybody up with their awesome jams.

One of our first stops was checking out the featured band … they woke everybody up with their awesome jams.

 

We followed that up by adding our names and favorite books to the wall of inspiration. My son of course chose Batman :)

We followed that up by adding our names and some of our favorite books to the wall of inspiration. My son of course chose Batman 🙂 My daughter chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. I decided to add The Alchemist, Eat Pray Love, and The Life of Pi.

 

We managed to play a few games before we went to the main event.

We managed to play a few games before we went to the main event.

 

Then we headed to the children's stage to check out our main event.

Then we headed to the Children’s Stage to check out our main event. We got front seats and enjoyed the reading of Skyscraper Showdown.

 

This is when all the kids went crazy ...

However the crowd went wild when this guy showed up …

 

However this is when my son was starstruck. He could barely contain himself. He was so excited to meet his hero and have Batman sign his book. It was his cartwheel-worthy moment of the week.

My son was starstruck. He could barely contain himself. He was so excited to meet his hero and have Batman sign his book. It was his cartwheel-worthy moment of the week.

 

When the awesomeness of the Cape Crusader was done, we explored the rest of the festival and discovered new authors.

When the awesomeness of the Cape Crusader was done, we explored the rest of the festival and discovered new authors.

 

During our exploration this was one of the funnest books and booths we discovered. My daughter did her best surfer pose and joined the characters ofthe book.

During our exploration this was one of the funnest books and booths we discovered. My daughter did her best surfer pose and joined the characters of the book.

 

During our browsing session, I found this book that caught my eye. The fact that Diego Luna read it aloud intrigued me.

During our browsing session, I found this book that caught my eye. The fact that Diego Luna read it aloud intrigued me.

 

After we picked up all of our books, from new and established authors, we headed home with all kinds of inspiration and new ideas.

After we picked up all of our books, from new and established authors, we headed home with all kinds of inspiration and new ideas.

 

 

 

 

Super Friends Rock the Book Festival

24 Apr

I never knew how powerful masks, capes, and superpowers could be, but I was enlightened this weekend at the annual Festival of Books.

We had a great time last year but failed to stop by at one of the booths, and we missed one of the readings.  We missed it. We missed it! I heard about for days. My son’s long-term memory was a little too amazing for me. So seeing how I didn’t want a repeat performance this year, I prepared all the snacks, packed all the avoid-toddler-meltdown accessories, and gassed up the care the night before. This time … this time I would see to it that we would arrive early enough so that we would not be mauled by the masses as we tried to get a glimpse of the Justice League and browse through all the Super Friends adventure books. And even though I slathered everybody with Coppertone Sunscreen, we were still baking in the sun and I felt that SPF 50 might not have been enough. My in-case-of-emergency chocolate was melting.

But despite all the heat my kids managed to wiggle themselves into the front row, and they stayed in the front row, regardless of all the sweaty kids, red-faced parents, and loud speakers surrounding us. My little Guats stayed in the front row fascinated by the reading performed by Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, The Flash and Batman. I guess Superman was out saving the world, but even without The Man of Steel the event was packed and some of the books were sold out. Luckily my son was able to snag a few of his favorites, and this put him in a great mood for the rest of the day.

After our little superhero experience, we continued to explore the Festival of Books and found a lot of little great surprises that made this adventure a good one.

 

This year's Festival of Books poster.

This year’s Festival of Books poster.

 

The excitement builds as we make our way toward the entrance.

The excitement builds as we make our way toward the entrance.

 

The masses.

The masses waiting for the Super Friends to take the stage.

 

What everyone was waiting for :) And as the audience was silent, eagerly listening to every word the Super Friends read you could see my one-year old daughter waving her arm and hear her saying ... HI BATMAN! HI! BATMAAAAAAN. BATMAN. BATMAAAAAAAAAAN.There was no use shushing her.

What everyone was waiting for 🙂 And as the audience was silent, eagerly listening to every word the Super Friends read you could see my one-year old daughter waving her arm and hear her say … HI BATMAN! HI! BATMAAAAAAN. BATMAAAAN. BATMAAAAAAAAAAN. There was no use shushing her.

 

My son engaging in super hero acts as they read aloud.

My son engaging in super hero acts as they read aloud.

 

Happiness sets in as my son was able to find a few of his favorites.

Happiness sets in as my son was able to find a few of his favorites.

 

As the Super Friends finished the reading and we bought our books, we explored the rest of the festival and ran into other surprises.

After we bought our books, we explored the rest of the festival and ran into other surprises … Captain Underpants being one of them.

 

As we walked through all the booths we came across the Warner Bros. both decided to participate in the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Scavenger Hunt.

As we kept walking, we came across the Warner Bros. booth and decided to participate in the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Scavenger Hunt.

 

My son completing one of the scavenger hunt activities.

My son completing one of the scavenger hunt activities.

 

My kids dressing up the potato heads in the best superhero costumes they could find.

My kids dressing up the potato heads in the best superhero costumes they could find.

 

Once we finished, we got in line to collect our prizes.

Once we finished all the activities, we got in line to collect our prizes.

 

After all those people and kids, and heat,, it was time for a juice box-sandwich break. As we ate, my son browsed the books he bought. This one in particular was my favorite -- Steam Train, Dream Train. We got a chance to meet the authors and have them sign his book. I was so excited, probably more so than my son. I think they enjoyed my Guat energy.

After all those people and kids, and heat,, it was time for a juice box-sandwich break. As we ate, my son browsed the books he bought. This one in particular was my favorite — Steam Train, Dream Train. We got a chance to meet the authors and have them sign his book. I was so excited, probably more so than my son. I think they enjoyed my Guat energy.

 

As I began to back up and search for a place to change my daughter's diaper, I saw something awesomely wonderful for parents courtesy of Target. A baby changing station. Dude ... Dude.

As I began to pack up and search for a place to change my daughter’s diaper, I saw something awesomely wonderful for parents courtesy of Target. A baby changing station. Dude … Dude.

 

I didn't even need to unpack my ginormous diaper bag and search for baby powder. They had it all ... sanitizer, diapers of every size, wipes, aloe vera, lotion, butt cream, and baby powder. It also provided a private area for feeding, which included a rocking chair and fan. Dude. I'm surprised there wasn't a line around the block.

I didn’t even need to unpack my ginormous diaper bag and search for baby powder. They had it all … sanitizer, diapers of every size, wipes, aloe, lotion, butt cream, and baby powder. It also provided a private area for feeding, which included a rocking chair and fan. Dude. I’m surprised there wasn’t a line around the block.

 

In the end it was a good adventure, filled with superheroes who rocked the festival, scavenger hunts, plenty of Coppertone SPF 50, book signings, free diapers, no traffic on the way home, and sleeping kids relaxing in their car seats.

Green Scooby-Doo Balloon To The Rescue

21 Apr

I thought I had it all. I’ve become accustomed to thinking ahead. That’s what you do when you’ve got kids, or cranky adults. You prepare.

Festival of Books

The Festival of Books. It’s a huge event with massive crowds of book loving people who also like freebies and samples from the corporate sponsors. I’ve gone just about every year for the past eight years. But now that I have a three-year old and a nine-month old. The trip becomes more like a mission to avoid any meltdown from any child.

Coppertone Water Babies UVA/UVB Sunscreen 50 SPF.

Three Cuties oranges.

Two Ziploc bags of Cheerios.

One container of Gerber Puffs.

Two juice boxes.

Three pacifiers.

Two sippy cups of water.

One bottle of milk.

One apple.

One banana.

One Clif Kid Bar Z Crispy Chocolate Chip.

Two Clif Kid Z Fruit Ropes

One peanut butter and banana sandwich.

One diaper bag filled with baby essentials.

I thought I had it all, but it was out of my control.

After a meltdown-free morning of construction, train, and dinosaur book exploring, arts and crafts doing, and music loving under a blistering heat for three hours, we encountered the balloon. We had it for five minutes. The red balloon from the Chinese Dragon stall. Then it popped. Thin layer I guess.

I saw it coming. I got the look and then the shoulders slumped. The eyes got watery, the lower lip did the I’m-about-to-cry pucker. Then his voice cracked, and I knew it was coming.

I forgot to pack an extra balloon.

The crowd at The Festival of Books.

No worries we’ll get another one. After fifteen minutes of weaving in and out through the crowds, we found the stall. Sweet. No one was in line. However no one was in line for a reason. No more balloons.

I got the look and the shoulder slump …

I saw someone with a purple Scooby-Doo balloon. We raced back through massive pedestrian traffic past the Mystery Machine and found the chick passing out the balloons. There was no red. Just Mystery Machine colors.

Scooby-Doo Balloon

“Green. Mom. Green is my favorite. Red is no good.”

So after three Cuties oranges, one banana, one apple, half a peanut butter sandwich, two juice boxes, two bags of Cheerios, one container of puffs most of which trailed behind us courtesy of the baby, one bottle of milk, one Clif Bar Z Crispy Chocolate Chip, and two Clif Kid Z Fruit Ropes, it was the green balloon to the rescue.

We lost one sippy cup and two pacifiers in the process, but the green Scooby-Doo balloon is still in tact.

The green balloon that saved us floats among the crowd.

 

Note to self: pack an extra balloon.