Little Elliot and I just got back from an AMAZING two week tour. We traveled to six states plus D.C. to share our new book, Little Elliot, Big Family! Folks in our big Macmillan family did a great job connecting Elliot and me with welcoming schools and stores.
Though the trip was wonderful for many reasons, there’s one highlight that I have to share. Early on the tour, a little girl came up to me after the reading and proudly announced, “I’m adopted!” Her big smile informed me that she connected with the book. Elliot’s story was her story. I was touched. But. It didn’t stop there! I met many other adopted kids, families with adoptees, and one librarian who has a recently adopted student who keeps checking out the book. While I was writing Big Family, it occurred to me that this story is all about inclusion. I am so grateful for these folks sharing their inclusion stories with me. My heart has been very full because of it.
It all started in Athens, GA, with my new friends at Avid Bookshop. Caleb and Hannah took me to Barrow Elementary, where I got to meet the Magnificent Mister Plemmons (good book title, no?). Mr. Plemmons did an amazing job prepping his students for the visit. Check out the awesome blog posts he wrote about using Little Elliot for library orientation and his recap of the school visit.
After some lunch (and some CAKE!), we visited Whitehead Road Elementary School. Half of the students speak Spanish, so I am sending them a few copies of El Pequeño Elliot en la Gran Ciudad!
In Decatur, GA, I visited Whitfield Academy and St. Thomas Moore School, then swung by Little Shop of Stories. Check out this awesome wall of fame filled with all the illustrators who have passed through. Now Little Elliot will join the ranks!
In Jackson, MS, I had the pleasure of spending the day with Miss Clara from Lemuria Books. Clara and I met earlier this year at the Ezra Jack Keats Awards in Hattiesburg. I’m so glad we did have a chance meeting, because that is how I ended up coming to Jackson and meeting all of the lovely people at Madison Elementary and Mannsdale Elementary.
Next, I headed north to St. Paul & Minneapolis, MN, for the Twin Cities Book Festival. Despite having to follow a group of singing Disney Princesses, Elliot and I had a decent sized crowd for our reading. I was pleasantly surprised to find my best friend’s entire Minnesotan family in the crowd!
I also had an awesome time catching up with an old college buddy, checking out the beautiful collections at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and hanging out with my friends & fellow book-makers, Trisha Speed Shaskan and Stephen Shaskan! They took me out on the town for some much needed non-hotel food and a tiki drink.
From there I went to Pennsylvania, where I visited Friends’ Central School and Cardinal John Foley School. The lovely folks at Children’s Book World in Haverford also hosted me for an in-store event.
Elliot and I visited the Wicoff School just outside of Princeton, NJ, with some help from the local Barnes & Noble. Then we hopped a train to Washington DC! My handler was the lovely Edie Ching, who teaches Literature and Materials for Children at the University of Maryland. We stopped by the famous Politics and Prose, who hosted an in-store event for several school classrooms. Meanwhile, Erica S. Perl came to say hi!
Afterwards, Edie and I stopped by J.O. Wilson Elementary, where I was able to do a presentation and give away a free copy of Big Family to every first grader!!! This was all thanks to The Open Book Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing free books for Title I low income elementary classrooms. A huge thank you to Dara La Porte and her team!
Finally, it was on to Florida for the last leg of the trip. Cynthia from Vero Beach Book Center took Elliot and me to St. Edward’s Lower School for a presentation at their annual Halloween book fair: Grandparents and Gremlins. Then we stopped by the store where I had the honor of drawing on the wall alongside legends like Tommie dePaola and Eric Carle!
Elliot and I had the rest of the day off, so naturally, we went to the beach!
The next day, we had our last two school visits. First we stopped by Glendale Elementary School. Not only were the students super enthusiastic, some of them wore Elliot masks they made! They also presented me with their own Little Elliot book that they wrote and illustrated!!
Finally, we went to Osceola Magnet School, where Elliot and I each got a cupcake 😀
The next day, I had my last event of the tour in Coral Gables at Books & Books. My sister flew in from New York to hang out with me! Here she is trying out her role as “Elliot Handler.”
And that was the tour! Afterwards, we headed to Fort Lauderdale to meet up with our brother & sister-in-law before heading back to good old NYC.
I would like to take a minute to thank my amazing publicists at Macmillan, Morgan Dubin and Mary Van Akin, for sending me on this wild ride!
Also, a shout out to Kate DiCamillo, Margarita Engle, Jenny Holm, and Matthew Holm, who kept me company throughout the tour…