A couple of weeks ago I went on an extraordinary author visit, one that’s stuck with me since. William Allen III Middle School in Moorestown NJ brought me in to present on Endangered, which was their all-school read this year. All classes stopped, and the whole day was devoted to discussions of the book. What struck me most was how every class found a way to participate—from science to history to English. There were quiz challenges, debates, studies of bonobo physiology. At the end of the day there was a bonobo field day, with a hula-hoop challenge and an obstacle course where the students had to run a challenge with an “infant bonobo” on their backs (actually a decorated roll of paper towels—pictured bottom left of the field day pic). Every kid and teacher (and I!) even got a T-shirt with a bonobo on the front. Hats off to the administration, especially in this era of standardized testing, for taking an entire day to strengthen the school community through reading.

Was leaving a ballet show at Lincoln Center with David Levithan on Thursday, and Mikhail Baryshnikov walked in as we were leaving! Turned around to get a last look and saw that security was searching his bag.

Together with the winning authors of the 2014 Green Earth Book Award, presenting our books to be placed in an conservation-themed time capsule. The kids of Paterson Elementary (D.C.) also made collages for the capsule about where they hope the world will be 30 years from now. Most of the visions of the future involved Spiderman beating the Green Goblin. Also the kids broke in to cries of anguish when we locked the time capsule, as if we’d just locked a puppy inside. Not the intended effect! But it was a lovely opportunity to talk to kids about their goals, organized by the amazing non-profit The Nature Generation, which works hard to get eco-books into the hands of schoolkids.On my left: the talented Kathi Appelt, whose award-winning The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp I just devoured and LOVED.

Together with the winning authors of the 2014 Green Earth Book Award, presenting our books to be placed in an conservation-themed time capsule. The kids of Paterson Elementary (D.C.) also made collages for the capsule about where they hope the world will be 30 years from now. Most of the visions of the future involved Spiderman beating the Green Goblin. Also the kids broke in to cries of anguish when we locked the time capsule, as if we’d just locked a puppy inside. Not the intended effect! But it was a lovely opportunity to talk to kids about their goals, organized by the amazing non-profit The Nature Generation, which works hard to get eco-books into the hands of schoolkids.

On my left: the talented Kathi Appelt, whose award-winning The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp I just devoured and LOVED.

Got a batch of adorable thank-you cards from 8th graders after a Skype author visit.

Highlights:

"My most favorite part in the book is the whole book because of the emotion and penmanship is very good."

"The eighth grade class thanks you with the bottom of our hearts!"

"I’d like to thank you for giving us your time of day."

"Would you write another book about bonobos if you had to?"

On this Rome trip my eyes keep getting drawn to the animals in ancient art. Here’s a little owl, inexplicably wedged under a shield for the last 3,000 years. (Ostia Antica)

Best writing spot I’ve been in, though I was too happy to get much done.  (Fiesole, Tuscany.)

Best writing spot I’ve been in, though I was too happy to get much done.
(Fiesole, Tuscany.)

The director attached to Endangered, Nancy Buirski, so eloquently discusses with NBC-NY her documentary on Tanaquil Le Clercq, debuting Friday night on PBS.
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/American-Masters—Tanaquil-Le-Clercq/263575291