Lil G (Illustration: Ashley Spires)
Sunday morning Diane, Olivia and I drove to Brooklyn to Powerhouseon8th, a gem of a bookstore, community hang, makers’ gallery and book club. It’s the creative spawn of DUMBO’s famed Powerhouse Arena. Think of it this way: if Powerhouse Arena is Godzilla, Powerhouseon8th is Baby Godzilla. It’s small but mighty. It’s chill and creative. It stomps!
South Slope hot chocolate for Olivia to start the morning!
Which is fitting, since we were in the neighborhood in the service of monsters.
We came over the bridge to read Go to Sleep, Little Creep, my lullaby — in collaboration with ace illustrator Ashley Spires — to loving monster caregivers doomed to the coaxing and cuddling of their tiny terrors waaaay past bedtime.
Our Haven on 8th Ave between 11th and 12th
As a small crowd of little humans gathered in the store’s bright, book-filled reading loft, adults in tow, my family and I caught their attention with a simple activity: creating stick puppets from cutouts copied from the book.
Kids enjoy the divine gift of turning anything just about anything into a toy. (Ever brave a gunfight with white bread chewed into pistols? We have. Ever stage opera using just a few spice jars as divas? We have.) So this simple craft proved to be just the right level. Play now, and something to remember us by later, whether Dad, Mom or Grandma bought a book or not.
What does Wolfgirl say?
Armed with puppets, we moved swiftly to my reading, and the kids enjoyed looking at monsters and bedtime — two potential negatives for the imagination — through a comic, rhyming lens that makes them fun.
Children also love it when you make them feel comfortable to participate: i.e. invite them to shout out the baby monster voices in the word balloons! We had a ruckus with that, getting louder with each callout, from the baby mummy who cries “Mummmmmeeeee” to the Wolfgirl who howls the Moon down behind the mountain at night’s end.
As for the adults, they seemed to appreciate the inside jokes of classic horror in the text and scenes. More than this, some knowing laughter told me how deeply they felt the dramatic tension between parents’ undying love and the struggle to achieve the peace of that last good night:
“I’ll always love you to the grave/But frankly dear, it’s sleep I crave.”
Bed time stories should be short. And this one is. So we finished just seconds before the most energetic child erupted into an explosive need to be anywhere but here. (Kids are honest that way.)
People ask me why I wrote this book. I have a different answer every day.
Sunday, it felt like I wrote it to help kids and their grownups discover how alive we feel reading stories aloud, together — especially stories that can only be told through a unique play between voices and images.
So thanks again to our host, Kate, who really knows books and has just the right touch with humans, too, both large and small. She and her team run the kind of store Diane described as “The book store you want in your neighborhood.” And thanks to Susanne, the director / curator of both stores, who invited us — and of course, thanks to Random House publicist Emily Bamford.
It takes a lot of people to make a little good noise for good books.
If you missed us, I signed dozens of copies for future Halloween displays in both stores — thanks, Kate!
Always great to go back to Brooklyn. See you again soon!
Bonus! Leave behind art from other visiting creatives in stores — David Soman and Jacky Davis’ Ladybug Girl