I'm happy to say that Booklist also gave Phoebe a thumbs up. So thrilled, so proud, and want to give a shout out to my supportive and fantastic agent, Sara Crowe, my tireless and astute editor, Eve Adler, and the fabulous illustrator, Joelle Dreidemy, who brought Phoebe to visual life. Thanks guys! Go Phoebe!
Review from Booklist:
Curious third-grader Phoebe G. Green is an incessant list maker and Sage’s BFF. On the first day of school, Phoebe befriends Camille, a new student from France. At lunch, Phoebe notices that Camille’s lunch—a tiny loaf of bread, bleu cheese, a salad with duck meat, and strawberries—is exotic compared to her soggy, mushy noodles. After several lunch comparisons, Phoebe invites her new friend to dinner to prove that they eat like the French, too. The preparation and dinner are adorably disastrous, but Mom comes to the rescue and soothes her daughter’s disappointment by explaining that differences between friends are meant to be shared. Meanwhile, Sage feels neglected and confronts Phoebe about Camille. Again Mom offers good advice and lets Phoebe know that it’s okay to have more than one friend. This is a splendid attempt to convey several lessons about growing pains to young readers, with age-appropriate humor via an outspoken, lovable, take-charge narrator. Dreidemy’s wiggly spot illustrations, meanwhile, supply plenty of nervous energy.
— Jeanne Fredriksen
It's back to school and back to making school lunch. Always a tough one. We want to be good parents. We want our kids to eat well. We want to be sane. These things don't always correlate. My son's elementary school doesn't have a cafeteria. It forces me to make lunch every day, so it's better, right? Sometimes. Or sometimes he gets a cheese stick, a bag of popcorn, a dry turkey sandwich, and an apple he never eats, just like the lunch my character Sage has everyday in book #4 of Phoebe G. Green. But sometimes my son gets homemade chicken vegetable soup, edamame, a bag of sliced red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers, and hummus for dipping. I feel good making it, but honestly he's not much more likely to eat that lunch than the other lunch. So I keep on keeping on. For what it's worth, here are five tips that make it easier for me, sometimes. Because in my parenting book, if it works sometimes, it works.
#1: Don't ask your kid if they want this or that. If you pack it, it's your call. The other way to go is to let them pack it and keep your mouth shut if it's somewhat healthy. You'd be surprised what a kid will eat if they make it, even if it seems weird to you.
#2: Sandwiches are lame. I don't know about you, but my kids hate sandwiches in their lunch box. These aren't lovely fresh sandwiches on toasted sourdough with prosciutto, arugula, and homemade garlic aioli. These are quickly smashed together lunch meats and cheese on dry supermarket bread. They'd rather have a container of rice and beans any day. But once in a while I still make them. I don't know why.
#3: Simplify the chaos. I put four things in their lunches: a fruit or veggie, a dairy or legume (like yogurt, a container of chick peas, or edamame), a snacky type food like popcorn or a granola bar. And last but not least, the main event like pesto pasta, lentil or chicken soup, rice and beans, a quick quesadilla with beans, salsa, and cheese in it, turkey roll ups with avocado, leftover meatloaf, turkey in a corn tortilla with hummus and sliced red pepper, or tuna fish with celery and crackers. Those are some of my kids' faves.
#4: Get all Super Mom and write down twenty low-prep things they like for lunch. Twenty sounds like a lot, but break it down into 4 fruits/veggies, 4 dairy/legumes, 4 snacks, and 4 main events. Then you have a go-to rotation and don't have to reinvent the wheel all the time.
#5: If all else fails, give them the same darn thing every day. I'm all for adventurous eating, but if it's well-balanced and they eat it, why not? Maybe dinners and weekend meals are times they try new foods. And maybe they'll get bored and beg for something different. Even better.
My kids are pretty good eaters. Some of that is just how they are naturally, but I also expose them regularly to new foods and they see me cooking and eating lots of different things. That doesn't mean they eat well all the time. It's about constant exposure, not constant success. One taste is a success. Then they can fill up on their regular foods. It's about setting them up as adventurous and healthy adult eaters, not having the fanciest eater on the block at age seven. That gives me hope when sometimes all my son wants to eat is pasta and yogurt.
Oh and buy them a copy of Phoebe G. Green: Lunch Will Never Be the Same or Farm Fresh Fun and see what it inspires!
*Stay tuned for info on my Lunch Will Never Be the Same event in Hastings on Hudson, NY at The Purple Crayon Center, Sunday, October 26 from 3-5pm: A family event including a reading/book signing, a food expert panel, tasty snacks, and lots of school lunch inspiration. More details to come!
Next month the first two books of my chapter book series, Phoebe G. Green, hit the stores. I just finished what will probably be my last round of revisions on the fourth book of the series (each one its own little marathon, but that's for another post!) and now I have a little breathing room for some reflection. I've been thinking about how this experience is different from when my first book, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, came out.
I can't help but make the parenting analogy. My first book was like my first child. Everything was new. I was in awe. I didn't know anything. Everything felt equally important and kind of terrifying. It was very special, thrilling, and somewhat strange.
This time around, I'm a little more relaxed and experienced. I know that the series will have the life it has, no matter how many tweets I tweet, blog posts I write, and appearances I make, yet I want to put myself out there even more.
I'm still in awe about the fact that I get to write books for a living and people actually read them. I'm in awe that I'm allowed to enter the private relationship between reader and story, especially the one of child reader and story. A lot of magic happens in that space and I'm grateful to be a part of it.
I'm more knowledgeable about marketing and publicity. And with each revision, hopefully I'm able to sharpen my skills. I'm less nervous about public appearances and have a better idea of what to do. But now it will be different in ways I can't know and I'm most excited for that--the unknown, the adventure, the new connections. Who knows where this is all leading? I'll tell you when I get there.