So I read at the West Hollywood Book Fair this Sunday and while the fair was lovely — and much larger than I’d expected — it was also one of the hottest days ever in Los Angeles (only beat out by Monday’s 113 degrees). That’s not the wonderful part.
This was the first time I’ve ever read at an event like this and there was one unexpected result.
It was the first time my children have ever heard me read Belly Up.
This might seem odd, but my kids are still young. Dash isn’t quite five yet. Violet is only half that. I’ve been trying to get Dash onto chapter books for a while now, though he’s still needed plenty of pictures to hold his attention. (‘Winnie the Pooh’: Not quite enough pictures. Shel Silverstein’s ‘Lafcadio’: Close. Dav Pilkey’s ‘Captain Underpants’ series: Perfect.)
So I hadn’t read my own book to them. But after I read my passage (the part where Teddy goes to meet Summer at World of Reptiles and trouble ensues) Dash was excited to hear more. The moment we got home, he went to his room to get his copy of the book and asked me to read it to him. He really wanted to hear how the hippo got murdered.
Now, there’s NO pictures in Belly Up, except for the gorgeous chapter headings. I had to explain to Dash that these were merely decorative — and that a chapter with a lion heading didn’t necessarily mean it was about a lion.
I don’t think Dash is quite old enough for this book yet, so I’m reading parts I think he’ll like. After the first few pages, he told me, “I can picture everything you’re reading in my mind.”
“That’s what reading is all about,” I told him.
I’ve wanted to write a book since I was around Dashiell’s age, but I don’t think it ever occurred to me that one day, I might be reading a book I wrote to my own son. Or that it might be the first non-picture chapter book he ever listened to.
It’s incredible. Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful.