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NAKED! Book Tour (Part 5): Northshire Books Saratoga, Division St. Elementary School and final words

Part 1 (prep) – Part 2 (NYC, meeting Michael Ian Black, B&N) – Part 3 (S&S) – Part 4 (Boston, Porter Square Books) – Part 5 (Northshire Books Saratoga, Division St. Elementary)

I woke up on the last day of the book tour with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I looked forward to getting back home to Jeff and creative hermitmode. On the other hand, this was the LAST DAY of my FIRST BOOK TOUR. I vowed to make the most of it.

Goofing around just before the children arrived.

I checked out of the hotel and took a cab over to Northshire Bookstore Saratoga (424 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 518-682-4200 / 855-339-5990). When researching the bookstore before the tour, I discovered that the 9,000-square-foot indie bookstore had opened last summer.

Image from AllOverAlbany.comThis was the second location for the Northshire Bookstore. The first opened in Manchester, Vermont.

I was excited to see my event listed in their calendar:

I enjoyed interviewing events and community outreach coordinator Rachel Person for my NAKED! blog. Rachel told me her position means “that I’m lucky enough to handle author events for the store and to find ways to work with other local organizations throughout our area. I’m also something of a magpie reader, which means I’m always drawn to the next bright shiny object, and will read in pretty much any genre.”

Rachel also said that coming to work in a bookstore every day was so energizing, that it was really a great place to be. “And, as the events coordinator for a brand new indie (our store opened less than a year ago), I feel like I’m helping to bring something to my town that hasn’t been here before – a year-round lineup of strong, exciting literary programming.”

I asked Rachel why picture books are important, and she answered:

“As a reader, I feel that picture books can really bring out the best in writers and artists – creating books for such a young audience requires such care and precision. Every detail has to be just right. As a mom, I’ve loved watching my children discover the world through picture books. They pave the way to absolutely everything.”

Model train in Northshire Bookstore Saratoga children’s department.

I loved all the light and space at Northshire Bookstore Saratoga; the place is gorgeous.

Not only that, but the entire second floor is devoted to books for young people!

I arrived just before the store opened up, and it was great to meet Rachel Person face-to-face after exchanging so many e-mails.

Also really enjoyed meeting Marika McCoola:

Not only does Marika work as an indie bookseller, but she is also an author, illustrator and educator. Her debut graphic novel, BABA YAGA’S ASSISTANT, was acquired by Candlewick in 2013. BABA YAGA’S ASSISTANT follows the story of Masha, a teen raised on the Russian folktales her grandmother told her. When Masha finds an ad looking for Baba Yaga’s Assistant, she ventures into the woods to apply. The graphic novel is edited by Deb Wayshak, illustrated by Emily Carroll, and is coming out in 2015.

Thanks to Marika and Rachel for making me feel so welcome!

Setting up for my presentation at Northshire was super-easy. I didn’t need my projector because Rachel Person had an adaptor that enabled my MacBook Air to connect with their projection system. I loved their event venue!

Soon the children and their parents arrived. Because there were fewer kids than the previous day, I was able to interact with each one of them, including during the illustration workshop session.

Rachel Person was super-organized and made me feel so welcome. I had a chance to sign pre-ordered books (for the school I was visiting later that day) as well as after my Northshire visit. Look at the photo above: I was so impressed by the book display on my table! Rachel even put out copies of Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction, an anthology from Stone Bridge Press that contained my illustrated story for teens, “Kodoma.”

And check out the choice of signing pens, whoa:

Rachel had a great “Get Your Geek On” pin and when she saw me admiring it, she found an extra one for me!

After I finished signing, Rachel and I picked up sandwiches at a nearby market and headed to Division St. Elementary School, where I talked to three kindergarten classes.

So much fun, and I was impressed by how well-behaved the students were. And SO VERY VERY CUTE. I had them help me do the reading by shouting out “Naked!” whenever I pointed to them. Wow, kindergarteners really love yelling that word. 😀

I talked to them about how Michael had written the story and I had illustrated it. They loved the picture of Michael consulting his cat. They were also fascinated by the whole process of creating a picture book, including the cover and jacket flaps.

I showed them the choices I gave Michael, and asked them which one they thought he chose:

They were delighted by the fact that Michael chose the one in which he looked the most NAKED. 🙂

And then I did a drawing demo, using (for the first time ever), a SMART Board interactive whiteboard:

Wow, was it ever fun to use! Thanks so much to Rachel Person, by the way, who was my tech support. Not only did she keep the slideshow running smoothly (we used a Windows-formatted USB stick of slideshow images) and also controlled the SMART board “erase all” when I needed it.

I had volunteers come up and do a scribble on the whiteboard, then I used the students’ suggestions to create some characters, and then (again, with their help) wrote a simple story starring the creatures we had created. LOVED their enthusiasm and eagerness in our creative collaboration process.

Afterward, Rachel and I went to her house where we had tea and ate our sandwiches before the cab came to pick me up. Loved her house — so full of books and creativity! Her husband is Steve Sheinkin, who has written short stories, screenplays, comics, a graphic novel, textbooks, history books and more. You can find out more about Steve and his work at

Thanks again so much to Rachel, Northshire Bookstore and Division St. Elementary School for their hospitality!

For more info, do check out the Northshire Bookstore website including upcoming eventsstaff picksstore blog and e-newsletter. On Twitter: @TogaNorthshire.

As I headed off to the airport in Albany to fly back home, I couldn’t help but contrast how I was feeling at that moment to how I felt in the weeks before the book tour. Back then I was excited but very stressed about the public speaking, whether I was prepared enough, what to take with me in my carry-on luggage, travel details, etc.

On the way home, however, all I could think about was how wonderful it had been to share my experience with those young readers, and how utterly SINCERE they were in their reactions, their questions, their enthusiasm for the books that Michael had written and I had illustrated.

I took all that wonder and delight of those young readers and wrapped it around me like a blanket as I made my way back to Toronto; my heart was so full.



For those interested, here’s a single link to all the blog posts in my 2014 NAKED! Book Tour Report