For my over-50 brain, I have written a list on two entire pages in my writer's notebook of all the experiences we had. It's pretty amazing to see it listed that way on paper. However, not to worry. I'm not going to share all my vacation pictures with you, but I would like to highlight some of the "literate" things we managed to do.
First of all, the book I took to read on the plane ride there was Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal. This book has been getting a little buzz lately, especially from my blog partner Bill. I'm not going to re-review it here, but I will say that it is a wonderful book, complex in topic, with much to discuss. I have to say it definitely will be in my pile of possible read alouds for this year. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it!
On our second day in NYC, after a delicious dinner in Little Italy, Carol (my NYC friend) and I strolled back to their apartment. On the way, we passed the school both of her sons had attended in younger days -- P.S. 41. It was fun to see the layout of an NYC elementary school, but also schools like this are the ones I've read about in books by Lucy Calkins and Shelley Harwayne, just to name two amazing literacy leaders. It was fun to imagine them visiting and supervising in a school such as P.S. 41.
On the third day, we went to the New York Public Library's main branch. I've heard so much about its children section. Much to my dismay, however, the rest of the library, while absolutely gorgeous to look at, is reference materials only. It was a rainy day, and I was hoping to pull a chair up to one of the beautiful library tables, complete with lamps, and spend some time reading to escape the wet weather. It was not meant to be.
On the same day as the visit to the library, we also spent some time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Grand Central Station -- both of these buildings are fabulous as well.
But, the best part of that day was stopping at Books of Wonder, an independent children's bookstore only 2 blocks from my friend's apartment. I fell in love! There was scaffolding outside as they were working on the exterior of that part of the block, so the outside was not anything to write home about, but as soon as I walked inside the door, I felt an incredible sense of welcoming. The store is bright, full of children's books, organized in a way that is very friendly for any browser. The bookshelves on the perimeter of the store go from floor to ceiling, and those books that are higher can be accessed by a library ladder. The store personnel were incredibly gracious as I explained that I was from Ohio, visiting a friend, and I like to blog about children's books. A special thanks to Munmun who kept finding books for me to check out, and to Ashley for all her kindnesses during checkout. These two lovely ladies are the reasons I love giving my business to independent booksellers. They were smart, knowledgeable, and so willing to help me. In fact, Munmun kept finding and handing books for me the entire time I was there. I just got to sit back and preview books to my heart's delight! I enjoyed all her selections but there was one book that I absolutely loved!!! Look for the review on Sunday. In the end, I left Books of Wonder with way too many books to fit in the luggage that I brought!
Shortly after 9/11, Shelley Harwayne came to speak at the Dublin Literacy Conference. She brought sample after sample of the messages and flowers and poems and posters about loved ones that went up all over the city. I was so moved by her stories and her photographs, that I knew whenever I got back to NYC, I would have to visit the site of the World Trade Centers. The actual sites of the "footprints" of the World Trade Centers are just a lot of construction right now, but there is a memorial that we got to see. It lives in St. Paul's chapel, just north of the Wall Street area, and adjacent to where the Trade Centers used to stand. St. Paul's is the place that the rescue workers came to for food and rest after 9/11.Surrounding St. Paul's chapel is a rod iron fence where many posters, stuffed animals, messages were left in memory of those who died that horrific day. Many of these items now reside inside of the chapel. I couldn't contain my emotions while looking at everything -- I found myself quite choked up, tears streaming down my face. But the power of the words I saw were symbols of people's grieving and their love of lost loved ones. These words had a life of their own.
On a more cheerful note, later that afternoon, I stopped in at the Scholastic store. It was quite a treat -- like a Scholastic Book Fair but in this huge room with great seating for children. My college friend's husband actually works for Scholastic, which is why we stopped in the first place. We were greeted by a great sculpture of Harry Potter as we entered the lobby of the building. As I browsed, I realized Scholastic has some great series under its label: Harry Potter, 39 Clues, and Magic School Bus, just to name a few. A fun side trip to be sure! And yes, in case you're wondering, I did buy some more books to fit in that already too-full suitcase of mine. :)
So, I managed to find quite a few literate things to do while in the Big Apple. But a few other interesting things happened as well:
- I discovered I love Thai food (I'd never had it before).
- I saw Susan Sarandon cross the street right underneath my bedroom window.
- My daughter and I stumbled across a movie location shooting for J. Lo's newest movie, and watched her do many takes of one scene.
- Ran into the Naked Cowboy in his "normal" underwear attire -- turns out he wants to be a write-in candidate for NYC mayor. Who knew?!