Follow:
Browsing Category:

literary road trip series

    blogger events, literary road trip series

    Book Expo America: Highlights from My 2018 BEA Adventure

     

    There are so many amazing literary events that take place every year all over the world.  One of my favorite events by far is Book Expo America.  Last year was my first time attending and I’m happy to report I made it back for the second year in a row!  You can read about my 2017 experience here which includes some helpful tips to keep in mind if you’ve never attended before.

    Ok, so what is Book Expo America (BEA)?
    I think BEA is a great event to attend if you want to network and get some face time with publishers/vendors, attend educational sessions, meet book bloggers or authors/illustrators, and get a glimpse of new and forthcoming books.  Don’t forget to bring a rolling suitcase to help you carry all of the “free” books you’ll get while at the event.  (I put the word free in quotation marks because while you don’t have to pay for any of the books you receive, there are costs associated with attending the event: travel, time, food, hotel, parking, etc.)  So yes, the books are FREE (can you say book heaven?), but not really free if that makes sense.

    Here is the official description from the Book Expo America website:

    BookExpo is carefully crafted with content and experiences for all those that play a part in the publishing industry. It’s where authors, booksellers, distributors, librarians, literary agents, publishers and more unite to build relationships, learn tactics to bolster business and get the pulse of what’s trending in today’s shifting marketplace.

    Are you excited yet?

    Some of the people I met this year include:

    • Don Diamont from the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful (Can you say handsome?)
    • Author Tomi Adeyemi (I was totally fangirling…HARD.  It’s so great to see all of her recent success!)
    • Vera, “The Tutu Teacher” (She is EXACTLY the same in person as she is on social media…except better!)
    • Author/illustrator Christian Robinson (I adore him and ALL of his work!)
    • Actor Taye Diggs (Again, can you say handsome?  I’ve been a fan for years!  Did you know his real first name is Scott?)
    • Illustrator Shane Evans (Love ALLof his work!  Have you read his latest book with Taye Diggs yet?)
    • Author Susan Verde (I finally got the chance to meet her in person…such a gentle soul.  I totally want her to be my Yoga teacher!)
    • Illustrator Sean Qualls (Such a fan of his work!  He signed my Grandad Mandela book…Yass!)
    • Illustrator Peter Reynolds (Finally got a signed Peter Reynolds book!)
    • Author Nic Stone (She is beautiful, amazing and so fun in person!)
    • Author Euka Holmes (What a beautiful and talented woman!)
    • Author Sarai Gonzalez (She’s so cute and such a great role model for young children!)
    • Author Angela Dalton (She came all the way from California to attend the event!  She took a selfie with Vera and I on the stairs along with some other folks attending the event.)

    In addition to meeting all of these fantastic people, I mingled with a few vendors including: Moonlite and Book Beau.  I also met up with literary agents, book bloggers, publishers, librarians and subscription box owners.  Overall, it was another amazing experience and I’m looking forward to attending again next year.

    Mark Your Calendars for the 2019 Book Expo: May 29 – May 31, 2019 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  Book Con will take place June 1-2, 2019.

    Your turn: Have you ever attended BEA (or Book Con) before?  What was your experience like?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Sun Valley, Idaho

    Sun Valley is a gorgeous resort city located in Blaine County, Idaho, known for its fantastic ski activities and beautiful sights.

    Thousands of tourists flock to the Sun Valley each year to ski Bald Mountain or to take their children to Dollar Mountain to master the art of skiing and snowboarding.

    However, there’s more to the Sun Valley than snow sports. Here, you’ll find a hidden cultural scene which is wonderful to discover as well as several educational hot spots where you can kick your feet up, grab a book and learn something new.

    If you’re planning on visiting Sun Valley this season, continue reading this article to find some exciting tips as well as the best things to see and do in the region.

    Where to Stay in Sun Valley

    While there are a wide variety of places to stay in Sun Valley, one thing you most certainly need to keep in mind is that depending on the season, accommodations can really fill up fast. In order to avoid disappointment, it’s recommended that you always be sure to book your Sun Valley Idaho Lodging or some of the many alternatives prior to your arrival.

    Family Activities in the Sun Valley

    Now it’s time to start planning the destinations you’ll explore and the activities you and your family will participate in during your stay in Sun Valley.

    Although the Sun Valley is a relatively small destination, there are several experiences which families simply cannot miss during their trip to the region.

    Learn how to Ski or Snowboard

    Visiting Sun Valley and not experiencing the snow is like going to an ice cream shop and not spoiling yourself with an ice cream. There’s nothing inherently wrong with avoiding the winter months in Sun Valley, but if you do, you’re missing one of the highlights of the destination.

    Take advantage of the fantastic instructors and community surrounding the Dollar Mountain to learn all you need to know about skiing, snowboarding, and a variety of other snow sports. This is an excellent opportunity to bond as a family and have a fantastic time playing in the snow.

    If you’re already familiar with the snow sports, you might want to head over to the Bald Mountain, or Baldy as the locals call it is the best spot to ski in the region. With dozens of beginner to intermediate trails to ski as well as some expert routes for those who are experienced skiers.

    Visit the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum

    Alternatively, if you and your family are not too enthusiastic on participating in the winter related activities and would like to stay warm and dry but still care to learn more about skiing, we recommend you make a quick stop at the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum.

    The Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum is a fantastic place that both preserves and tells the story of the region, it’s cultural and economic growth through the ages and the importance of skiing to the Sun Valley and its community.

    Mountain Hiking

    You can also experience the sights and beauty of the Sun Valley region mountains without having to wear skiing gear. You can take a leisure trek through the region and bond with your family as you walk through this fascinating destination. If you and your family are hikers, you will really love the hiking trails available in the area.

    Have an Educational Tour at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden

    Whether you’re traveling with young children or visiting with your significant other, touring the Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a fantastic way to learn about the natural diversity of the region, the importance of native and cultivated plants, and the beauty of gardening and its relationship with humanity.

    Not only are the botanical gardens absolutely stunning, but you’ll learn a great deal about the ecology of the region and a number of other things you might not know about gardening and plants.

    The Chapter One Bookstore

    For those who love reading and can’t be far away from a local bookstore while traveling you should stop by the Chapter One Bookstore, a fantastic shop that feels just like home.

    A perfect mix between an indie bookshop and large favorite bookstores, this place is perfect to dive in and seek out rare books, enjoy a cup of coffee, and chat with some locals about the community.

    The Community Library

    If libraries are included in your idea of a great family trip, you won’t want to miss the Community Library of Sun Valley.

    With contemporary exhibits, dozens of different programs to educate the community and its visitors, and thousands of resources to learn from, The Community Library is an excellent place you should visit if you’re an avid reader who loves this essential part of life.

    Discover Ernest Hemingway’s Legacy in the Sun Valley

    Ernest Hemingway is one of the most memorable writers in American history. An author that influences millions of writers worldwide and still is held with high esteem in the places he lived and gathered.

    Sun Valley is the final resting place of this magnificent writer, and there’s a great legacy that surrounds his works that you can find in the region.

    You can find his home, which doubles as a museum thanks to the efforts of the Community Library, where hundreds of different artifacts and items of his life are on display. The exhibit is an excellent place to learn about the life and works of this influential writer.

    Experience the Indie Art and Music of Sun Valley

    With the influence of Ernest Hemingway and dozens of other artists who once called this region home, Sun Valley has become a fantastic scene of contemporary art, indie music, and theatrics.

    From the Sun Valley Summer Symphony to the other art galleries set throughout the region, the Sun Valley has an impressive display of places to enjoy art and surround yourself with a loving community.

    More than just Snow and Ski — Experience Everything Sun Valley has to Offer

    While many tourists assume that Sun Valley is simply as a ski resort or a winter getaway for those looking to take part in some of the many snow sports on offer, it’s actually much more diverse than that.

    From learning about the legacy of Ernest Hemingway to exploring and discovering surprising new artists who live and perform in the venues of the valley, there are dozens of activities and events for everyone in the family, regardless of the age difference.

    Hopefully, you’ll find the locations and tips in this article helpful for your plans to make a literary road trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, and you can enjoy this magnificent location and all the experiences it has to offer.

    Share:
    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Wee Faerie Village + Old Lyme Public Library

    The Wee Fairie Village is pure magic!  The kids and I recently visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago after learning about it from a friend.

    What is the Wee Fairie Village?
    The Wee Faerie Village, is a popular, annual tradition at the Florence Griswold Museum.  This year the theme was Lettersburg Junction, which featured enchanting regions where faeries live in alphabetically placed houses resembling all the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z. There were also the Numbertown and Punctuation Stations which were all amazing to see in person.

    Upon entering the museum we were provided a handy DIRECTIONARY (map) to begin exploring Lettersburg Junction one fairie destination at a time.  Before we headed out to the village, we spent about a half hour inside the museum learning about Florence Griswold who transformed her home into an art colony in the early 1900s.  Her home is now a national historic landmark which is today known as the Florence Griswold Museum.  The museum exhibits both American art and historical material. Its collection spans fine art, sculpture, works on paper, artist’s studio material, toys and dolls, ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative arts and historic artifacts, and the Lyme Historical Society archives.


    With our map in hand, we began search the grounds for the elaborate faerie dwellings.  Each one was a beautiful miniature habitat made out of natural or found materials.  The map listed the faerie dwellings along the route using cute faerie-sounding place names such as “Beachy Bungalow”, “Umbrella Utopia”, and “Gnome Sweet Gnome Home”.  Each village had witty monikers that were often wordplays on some aspect of the historic artist or their art.  Also, at each fairie dwelling there were hidden items to find which added a fun scavenger hunt and reading theme to it.

    Can you find the garden gnome?

    Can you locate Lily’s little locket?

    Can you find our magical quiver filled with rainbow arrows?

    Checking out the Pagoda Palace fairie dwelling

    The Wee Faerie Village project was designed to encourage visitors to explore, use their imagination, enhance their creativity and develop love and appreciation for the arts.  I think it definitely meets and exceeds those goals – we truly had an amazing time!  I loved seeing the kid’s faces light up as we marveled at each enchanting fairie dwelling.  The range of artistic expression in the faerie dwellings was astounding!  It was also great to see other kids exploring the grounds with parents and sometimes even grandparents making it a fun inter-generational event for everyone.  We’re looking forward to attending again next year!

    Old Lyme Public Library, Old Lyme, CT

    After visiting the Wee Fairie Village we headed over to the Old Lyme Public Library which was only a two-minute drive from the museum.  It was our first time visiting that library which was originally established as a free public library back in 1897.  The library was recently expanded in 1995, which more than doubled the square footage of the previous building, including a large Children’s Room and Community Room for public use.

    Your turn: Have you the annual Wee Fairie Village yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Riverview Farms Fall Festival at Robb’s Farm


    Disclaimer:
    Riverview Farms for provided my family with complimentary admission to the Fall Festival in exchange for writing an honest review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

    The Riverview Farm Fall Festival Season kicked off Saturday September 8, 2018 and runs through the first weekend in November.  The festival is held at Robb’s Farm in South Glastonbury and is open Fridays noon-6pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm.

    Robb’s Farm is well-known for their ice cream and in the fall, they partner with Riverview Farms to bring a Fall Festival to the area.  The festival includes hayrides, a pumpkin bounce house, corn maze, pumpkins, baby animals, pony rides (on weekends) and goodies to eat.  Did somebody say apple fritters and ice cream?  Yum!  We were able to check out almost everything on our recent literary road trip.

    Riverview Farms Fall events includes a petting zoo, hay rides, face painting, birthday parties, tours, baby chicks to hold, plus a 24′ Pumpkin Bounce.  There was a birthday party going on the day we visited and it looked like the kids attending were having a blast!  Riverview Farms also operates a petting zoo out of the Old Cider Mill in Glastonbury in the fall, which would be another family-friendly place to visit for animal lovers.

    Here were the things we were able to check out during our visit back in September:

    • Hayride
    • Pumpkin Bounce
    • Apple Fritters – Highly Recommended. (They are melt in your mouth good!)
    • Plenty of photo opportunities

    We also went in to check out the ice cream shop because the kids wanted water to drink since it was quite warm outside.  They have an assortment of refrigerated juices and bottled water inside the ice cream shop.  Although we didn’t taste their ice cream it sure looked good.  Plus, it’s all homemade and there is a nice variety of flavors to choose from.  We ate our apple fritters, drank water and had an impromptu story time on the picnic tables under the pavilion.

    The kids said they enjoyed the hayride the most followed by the pumpkin bounce house.  I enjoyed the hayride too, but was happy I donned my comfy Koral workout pants instead of wearing shorts because there was lots of hay on the seats of the wagon.

    The kids and I headed to the Glastonbury Public Library after our trip which was just a short car ride away.  I had the opportunity to read a little and check out some new books while the kids spent about an hour playing in the adorable play house at the library.  It was the prefect way to end our fun-filled mommy and me literary adventure.  We’ll definitely be back next fall to visit the Fall Festival again!

    Glastonbury Public Library

    After Thanksgiving, Robb’s Farm opens their Holiday Shop featuring trees, wreaths, hand-made bows, garland, kissing balls, seasonal pots and seasonal plants.

    Your turn: Have you ever visited the Riverview Farms Fall Festival?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    children's books, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: A Night with Author Jacqueline Woodson at the Mark Twain House

    I recently had the honor of listening to Jacqueline Woodson, the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature speak at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT.  The event was sponsored by RJ Julia Booksellers and The Mark Twain House and was the first stop on Woodson’s current book tour to promote her latest books.

    Woodson received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award and a Sibert Honor.  Woodson’s new picture book, created along with two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López, is The Day You Begin, a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.  Her new chapter book is entitled Harbor Me which celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.

    The night started off with Woodson reading passages from her popular middle grade book Brown Girl Dreaming.  As she read, she told us different things that were going on during her life that inspired her to write the passage.  She also talked about parts of her childhood and how she migrated from the South before eventually ending up in New York City.

    Next, she read aloud the book The Day You Begin followed by reading a few pages from Harbor Me.  You could hear a pin drop as she read in a “sing songy” type of tone which was completely captivating.  After she finished reading, audience members had the opportunity to ask questions before heading out to get our books personalized and signed.

    A few things I loved most about the event:

    • Jacqueline was everything I thought she’d be and more!  I loved her added bits of humor and the amount of thought/detail she put into answering each question from the audience.
    • She challenged educators and parents in the room to have classrooms/home libraries that reflect “windows”, “mirrors” and “sliding doors” in order for all children to be able to see themselves, understand others and slide into different experiences.
    • Learning more about the inspiration behind writing her books.  Fun fact: The picture book The Other Side was intended to be a story about a present day experience in Jacqueline’s life, not an experience from the past.  It was the illustrator who set the book in the past (1950’s), not her.  Since authors and illustrators aren’t allowed to have any contact with each other during the book writing process, she had no idea what the illustrations would look like until they were completed.

    Overall, it was an amazing event and I’m so thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet her in person, shake her hand and receive a signed copy of her book.  Thanks to RJ Julia Bookstore and The Mark Twain House for putting on such a fantastic event.  Now I need to take my kids on a literary road trip to visit the Mark Twain House so we can explore the entire museum.  It looks like an incredible place!


    This amazing Mark Twain Lego statue greets you at the door as soon as you walk in the Mark Twain House Museum.

    Your turn: Are you planning to attend one of Jacqueline Woodson’s upcoming book tour events?  Which one of her books is your favorite?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip: Foxwoods Casino & Resort


    Foxwoods Casino and Resort is located about an hour north of us, which makes it perfect for a quick road trip getaway. Thank you to Foxwoods for hosting us last month!

    We stayed in a one bedroom deluxe room with two double beds that sleeps 4. We found the room to be spacious even with the four of us in it.  The rooms and hallways were always very clean and whenever we asked a staff member a question (like finding our way around – the place is huge!) they were always very helpful and polite. I was particularly taken by the sophisticated colors and the Native American accents shown throughout the hotel, casino and resort. It felt very luxurious and well appointed.  An added bonus was looking at all the beautiful holiday decor since we went right around the Christmas holiday.

    Our room was located in the beautiful Fox Tower.  With the blanket of light snow far below, the views from this height were very impressive. We could have stayed in our room all day enjoying the views.  The views at sunset were incredible!

    While Foxwoods doesn’t have on-site child care, they do offer activities for kids, along with familiy-friendly shows, on-site casinos and adult-themed entertainment.  Also, did you know they are second on the list of top ten largest casinos in the U.S.?  The giant Foxwoods Resort complex currently boasts a whopping 344,000 square feet of casino space, 4,800 slot machines, and 280 table games (including poker tables).  They also have a 20-lane bowling alley, golf course, museum, zip line, outdoor trails, an outlet shopping mall, swimming pools, spas, an arcade with dozens of kid-friendly games and dozens of family-friendly restaurants.

    My husband and I aren’t huge gamblers, but we took turns exploring the gaming area for a bit while one of us stayed with the kids.  During our stay we also had the opportunity to take advantage of the kid-friendly activities.  The kids were so excited to get up close and personal with live reindeer, feed them and take photos with Santa.

    Since we had some last minute holiday shopping to finish we also did some shopping at Tanger Outlets.  Tanger Outlets offers everything from high end shops to affordable stores you know well.  Mixed in with the shops are also many restaurants to choose from.

    Bring on the Books!
    Of course our road trip wouldn’t have been complete without books!  There is a nearby public library just minutes away from Foxwoods (Preston Public Library), but we opted to go to Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT instead.  It’s located directly across the street from the famous Mystic Pizza from the popular movie.  I had been wanting to check out that book store for a while so this trip was the perfect opportunity.

    Overall, I was pleased with Bank Square Books.  It’s a cute and quaint store with a nice selection of both children’s and adult books along with other novelty items.  I purchased a book for the kids as a Christmas gift – one we didn’t own yet: Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel.

    The thing we like most about Foxwoods is everything is in one location.  If we didn’t go off-site to visit the book store, we wouldn’t have had to go outside at all.  Foxwoods is a unique and diverse experience for families to explore.  No matter what your interests, Foxwoods is fun and worth the trip for the whole family.  Be sure to check out some of their upcoming family-friendly events taking place soon!

    Riverdance – Bring the family to go watch this amazing show!

    New England Patriots Cheerleading Auditions – Have you ever wanted to see cheerleading auditions for a professional football team take place?  Well this is your chance to do it for FREE!!!  Great for sports and cheerleading fans!  A fun, free, family-friendly event!

    Piff the Magic Dragon – Go see the break out star from season 10 of NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’, Piff the Magic Dragon!

    Super Hero Kids Week!
    4/7/2018 – 4/15/2018
    It’s time to take a break from saving the world and celebrate Super Hero Kids Week! This is the best time for kids to unleash their inner super hero and for Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods to unleash it’s savings for all! We are celebrating this 9 day event by hosting all sorts of free super hero themed activities. Meet your favorite heroes and participate in the scavenger hunt for prizes and much more!  For easiest access to Tanger Outlets park at the Fox Tower garage.

    Family Fun Day with Mystic Aquarium- APRIL 14TH
    Join Tanger Outlets and The Mystic Aquarium on Saturday, April 14, 2018 for a fun, interactive family event from 12 – 4 PM near Sketchers. Kids can learn about Dinosaurs and see LIVE tree fogs in a simulated habitat! Touch a real fossil and see ancient artifacts. Families can enter to win an encounter with live animals at Mystic Aquarium.

    Disclaimer: We received a media rate for our stay at Foxwoods.  As always all opinions are honest and my own.

    Your turn: Are you planning an upcoming literary road trip?  I’d love to hear about your experience and where you’re planning to go!  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Mohegan Sun, A Kid-Friendly Casino Resort

    Disclaimer: We are thrilled to partner with Mohegan Sun for literary road trip series.  We received a discounted hotel stay and meals in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


    Although casinos are commonly known as adult playgrounds, I was surprised to learn that places like Mohegan Sun offer a variety of activities and options for families with children.

    Kids will immediately love arriving into the lobby area of either the Earth or Sky Tower with the check-in desks surrounded by beautiful sculptures.  We went during the holiday season so we had the opportunity to enjoy all of the amazing, festive décor.

    Upon checking into our hotel room, we were thrilled to learn that Mohegan Sun is all about providing a family-friendly destination experience that truly offers something for everyone. For those who enjoy shopping and eating there are plenty of shops and restaurants with fine and casual dining options.

    Visitors looking for an escape will find the ELEMIS and Mandara spas as well as an 18-hole golf course, fitness center and indoor pools.  And for those who just want to play and try their luck at winning, of course there are plenty of action-packed gaming floors to choose from.  Oh, and did I mention kids eat FREE at some restaurants like Chick-fil-A every Tuesday evening?  Also, kids ages 6 and under eat free at the Mohegan Sun buffet restaurant every day!

    There are also plenty of live entertainment venues for kids, families and adults. Best of all, Mohegan Sun offers a Kids Quest hourly care play center for children, and a Cyber Quest arcade for family-friendly fun!  This was a complete game changer for me since we didn’t have someone else with us to watch the kids.  I was completely sold!  It was such a treat to bring them to a safe place like Kids Quest for a couple of hours while we had the opportunity to explore the casino floor. (We didn’t win big, but we had fun while being kid-free!)

    Of course, we toured Kids Quest first to make sure it was indeed safe and some place we felt comfortable leaving our kids at since they had never been there before.  Kids Quest not only has a fully trained and capable staff, it’s also packed with lots of stuff to keep kids occupied for hours on end.  There are iPad stations, PlayStation stations, video games, rock wall, a stage for karaoke and imaginative play, art supplies, an area for tiny tots & babies, a sports zone and so much more!  Kids Quest is for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.

    Mohegan Sun also has their own book store called Spin Street which has a small selection of fiction and nonfiction books for adults (no picture books for kids), videos and other novelty items like t-shirts.

    Display of fiction and nonfiction books inside the Spin Street book store

    Display of books and novelty items inside the Spin Street book store

    In addition to checking out Spin Street book store we also ventured out to two local libraries: Gales Ferry Library and Bill Library.  Bill Library is closer to Mohegan Sun and Gales Ferry Library is located about 10 – 15 minutes away from Bill Library.  Both libraries were very charming and quaint with a nice selection of recent and older books for children, teens and adults.  The kids enjoyed playing with the toys in the children’s section of Bill Library, but they were fast asleep by the time we arrived at the Gales Ferry Library.

    Gales Ferry Library located in Gales Ferry, CT

        “The road to knowledge begins with the turn of a page.”

    If you’re thinking of taking a family trip to Mohegan Sun I’d highly recommend it!  Bring the kids to enjoy the arcade or some of the many other kid-friendly activities they have going on at different times of the year.  We’ll definitely be returning more often to visit with or without the kids!

    Your turn: Do you think casinos resorts are for adults only?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share: