Today I visited the Marion Street Elementary School in Lynbrook, NY, where Alvin Ho decorations were hung by the entrance with care . . . and the halls were decked, and I mean DECKED, as in COVERED, in Alvin Ho Ho Ho. It was fantastic!
And Gina made me my very own PDK and gave it to me before my presentation:It looked empty, but if you looked closely you could see that it was filled with COURAGE for speaking in front of a super-duper big crowd. Thank you, Gina, for being so thoughtful!!!
But before I tell you about my day with the dear readers at Marion Street, I want to say that one of the hardest things about doing an author visit is deciding what to wear. When you’re an author, you normally roll out of bed and right into your writing chair with nary a thought to a change of clothes. But when you do an Author Day, you don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed, even if that’s what you normally look like, it’ll freak ’em out!!!
For your young readers who have been tortured for many weeks, reading your books, doing book reports, thinking up good questions to ask you, and finally decking their halls with lovely decorations for your sake, you need to look presentable.
But presentable, when you’re an author, is tricky.
It’s like using commas. Putting a comma in, changes the whole sentence. Taking the comma out changes it again.
So it goes with clothing. Wear the wrong thing, and they’ll remember what you wore. Wear the right thing, and they’ll remember you. (I’m paraphrasing a famous designer named Coco Chanel who once said, “Dress shabbily and they’ll remember the dress. Dress impeccably and they’ll remember the woman.”)
So how to look presentable as an author?
No matter how fantastic you look on the train.
No matter how much you enjoy taking pictures of yourself on your phone while wearing your hat.
No matter how cold it is outside.
DO NOT wear a hat.
This is because by the time your host (and marketing director at Random House) picks you up at the station (thank you, Kerri Benvenuto!)and takes you to your school:You will have SERIOUS HAT HAIR.
You will ask to use the bathroom.
You will not take a bath.
You do not really even need the toilet.
But you will try to fix your hair.
And you will not come out for a LONGLONGLONG time.
And even after you’ve been locked in the principal’s private bathroom long enough for your host to say, “Oh, there you are! We were beginning to wonder where you’d gone!” when you finally emerge, your hair, dear author, will have only gotten worse by your efforts to unshapen it from the shape of your hat.
Hat hair is like that.
It will make you feel fragile and insecure all day.
It will make you want to start the day all over again.
It will make you want to die.
But what the heck.
You’ve brushed your teeth.
And a sqillion readers are now in the gymnasium fidgeting and waiting to hear from you.
In an hour, they’ll be reading a different author and making different decorations.
You’ll be history then.
No one will even remember what you looked like.
But this was not normal.
This was the Marion Street Elementary School.
It’s on Long Island’s South Shore, less than 45 minutes from Manhattan by train.
First, you give a 45-minute presentation to grades 1 through 5. Then you answer a hundred questions:
After that, a few readers come up to you to ask questions they couldn’t ask in front of everyone because 1. They were too shy. Or
2. They were told NOT to ask those questions. But if you answer them truthfully, they will go away. Usually.
But this was not usual. This was the Marion Street School, where EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE SINGLE young reader in EVERY CLASS came up to get their PICTURE taken with me with the HAT HAIR. And how could I say no? I couldn’t. But this is my blog so I’m only posting the pictures where my misshapen hair didn’t look too bad. If your class was omitted, blame it on my freaky hair!
TGLWN, Thank God Lunch Was Next. It was very yummy!!! Thank you, Marion Street PTO!!!
I got to eat my lunch with the principal, Mrs. Macchia, on the right, and Mrs. Karen, a third-grade teacher, on the left:They had really beautiful unhatted hair.
Then after lunch — surprise! surprise! — there was a class-picture-waiting-to-be-taken-with-me in the hallway:I mean they’d already taken their places and all I had to do was walk right into it — with my hat hair!
Then I slipped into a classroom only to find another class picture waiting to happen —After that, another ambush in the hallway:And so it went —Everywhere I turned, there was another class-picture-waiting-for-me, just like this:I couldn’t get away!
So I had to ask, “What are you going to do with all the pictures?”
The answer: “Each student gets their own copy.”
If I had known, I would have kept my hat on.
Seriously, I had a MARVELOUS time at Marion Street. Thank you all for your enthusiasm and for reading ALVIN HO!!!
And thank you, Mary Van Akin, my publicist extraordinaire, for coming along and helping out and taking all the pictures during my presentation and along my class picture escape route!!!
Here’s Mary at the end of our day:
Love their PDKs and the idea of writing their own class rules for making new friends! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for a most memorable author day at Marion Street! You were amazing and your books are even more delightful. It was wonderful getting to know you. BTW I loved your hat!
Your hat story is hilarious! You are beautiful, regardless the hat hair … Love all the work the students put into decorating their school! Wonder what our school will do? If anything .. hear’s hoping!!!!!