On Thursday, July 2 I hosted an event at the Hamilton Public Library to celebrate my book The World’s Strangest Foods.
I brought all kinds of unusual food from countries including Japan, England, Ecuador, Germany, and many others.We started out with horned melon from New Zealand, and dragon fruit from Vietnam. I offered about 19-20 different items, which varied from the tame (British candy and coconut soda) to preserved eel (in a can), and Limburger cheese. I never would have expected so many kids to try every item on the menu!
Culinary options at the Strange Foods event
Horned melon from New Zealand
While I’d been expecting about 15 kids to attend, we ended up with more like 35-40 kids. They ranged in ages but there were lots of tweens and teens and many boys in the audience. I read segments from the book and got the requisite oohs and aahs at some of the more bizarre culinary offerings (fermented shark meat, anyone?).
I would love to bring a presentation like this to other libraries and schools. We had a terrific time!
This is what Library Director Hilary Virgil had to say about the event: “Limburger cheese, dragon fruit, canned roast eel, seaweed crackers, lychee candies, coconut soda and more! We had a fabulous feast exploring foreign foods with local author Alicia Klepeis…and we learned our teens are fearless! Thank you, Alicia!”
Library Board of Directors member Maureen Wallace said, “What a fantastic event. I cannot believe how attentive and willing the participants were to try everything! Alicia did a wonderful job!”
Whether you’re a homeschooling family or a family that has kids on summer vacation, everyone likes ice cream. And we as parents know that even if kids don’t admit it, learning is often fun. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for The Old Schoolhouse that was a unit of study all about ice cream — the science behind it, the history of it, and of course how to make your own. My own children had loads of fun with the activities. Here’s the link to the original article:
I recently returned from the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference held at Manhattan College, New York. It was my third time attending the conference and, as always, I had a terrific time. I was able to attend some incredible sessions by several of my favorite authors, including Melissa Stewart and Steve Swinburne. Steve’s talk about the intersection of poetry and nonfiction was great fun and he showed how to roll even when technology goes awry. I love that he takes risks and is willing to have a sense of humor — singing one of his poems inside a seaweed-filled tidepool. I was also inspired by the enthusiasm and creativity of presenters such as Heather Montgomery. Her book How Rude! 10 Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners is bound to be a popular one with kids of all ages.
As anyone knows who’s ever attended a conference, connections with people are what really make an event stand out. As I headed to the evening mix and mingle, I sat down at a crowded table and –lo and behold — the editor who’d just worked on three of my adventure chapter books was sitting across from me. She was fun and great company to hang out with!
I can’t wait to go back next year to the 21CCNFC and make even more new friends and connections!
Want to learn more? Here’s an article from Publisher’s Weekly:
Are you afraid of far-out foods, or do you find the unfamiliar fabulous? Ages 10 and up are invited to sign up for our “Fear Factor” Food Challenge and visit with Alicia Klepeis, author of The World’s Strangest Food, on Thursday, July 2nd from 3-4pm. Participants will be offered opportunities to taste of a variety of foods from around the world! If this is not your kind of fare, feel free to come and watch the festivities. Please stop by the Library in advance to register for this event and pick up a parental permission form.
In 2014 my book Understanding Turkey Today was released by Mitchell Lane Publishers. It was fascinating to research. I was lucky enough to have some help from Heather and Cengiz Cigeroglu. Heather taught art at a school in Istanbul and Cengiz grew up in Turkey. They were super generous with their time, teaching me cool things like how to make a kid-friendly version of ebru (Turkish marbled paper) and also how to cook some delicious recipes eaten by people all over Turkey. Here’s a photo of my first attempt:
After reaching out to the Turkish Consulate in New York during the research process, I was invited to meet the Vice Consul, Sadik Serhat Akkoç. So this past Thursday I headed to the consulate where I was able to present a copy of my book as a gift. There we spoke about writing for children and adults, education in the US and in Turkey, and so on. Later that evening the Vice Consul and his wife hosted me to a beautiful dinner full of traditional home-cooked specialties – from soups to pilaf to stuffed peppers. It was, hands down, the most delicious meal I have ever eaten. We talked about culture, food, family and so many other topics. I learned so much and very much hope to go to Turkey in the future to learn even more about this fascinating country!
Growing up on the East Coast, petroglyphs were something I’d never actually seen in person. When I was in Utah recently, I had the chance to spend a morning at McConkie Ranch just west of Vernal in the area now known as Dinosaurland.
Even though McConkie Ranch is privately owned, the public is welcome to explore the petroglyphs and pictographs on the property. Don’t know the difference between the two? Petroglyphs are images chipped into the rock. Pictographs are painted onto the rock. The petroglyphs here were made by the Fremont people about 1,000 years ago. Trails are well marked and it’s easy to get around.
One of the many petroglyphs at McConkie Ranch
On the sunny, crisp morning when my daughter and I visited McConkie, we had the place practically to ourselves. Payment is just $4 per car and on the honor system. A metal trash can full of walking sticks for loan is available. Inside the little cabin at the entrance is a metal cash box and a fridge full of beverages. Post-it notes and business cards from visitors wallpapered the inside of the cabin. I left mine too. Everyone is supposed to register in the guest book — there were people from around the globe who’d recently stopped in.
The petroglyphs were abundant — it seemed at every turn, we saw a new image.
The rock formations here were spectacular as well, as were the blooming cacti along the trails.
Cactus in bloom
One of many cool rock formations at McConkie Ranch
Incredible contrast between rock and sky
McConkie Ranch is just one of Vernal’s gems…keep posted for more! If you can’t wait to see more, check out the following website:
One of the coolest things about visiting Utah is checking out the state’s many paleontological sites and research centers. On my recent trip, I was able to learn about how many different dinosaurs once tramped in the land we now refer to as the Beehive State. Did you know that the Allosaurus is Utah’s state dinosaur? I had a great time seeing Allosaurus bones — among many other dinosaur bones — at Dinosaur National Monument’s famous Wall of Bones. So cool! Want to see more of this great site?
Another highlight of my trip was a visit to Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden. Park Director Casey Allen was kind enough to give me a tour of the museum, as well as the fascinating onsite lab. I was able to view some fossils that were in the process of being cleaned up and put back together. One of my favorites was the salamander-like Metaposaurus from 280 million years ago.
Metaposaurus from 280 MYA
I also loved seeing the many fragments that make up the Aetosaur below — It is estimated that the million or so pieces of this creature will take about 7 years to put back together. It takes a patient and brilliant paleontologist to do this job!
The 100+ full scale sculptures at Eccles Dinosaur Park was incredible. In addition to learning about these vast dinosaurs, I wasn’t above goofing around a bit too!
Being silly at Eccles Dinosaur Park — This place is a blast for the whole family!
I just got back from a fantastic trip to Utah. The itinerary that the Office of Tourism put together for me and my teenage daughter Acadia was incredible. Since we saw so many terrific sites, I’ll share them over the course of a few posts. Arriving in Salt Lake City was a breeze. I couldn’t get over how close the airport is to downtown. Apparently, it’s about the closest downtown area to any major international airport in the country: a 15 minute drive at most. Utah’s culinary scene is hip. We started our trip with Sunday brunch at Pago. Just look at the gorgeous waffle I had:
Another fantastic foodie spot was Tin Angel. The artworks for sale throughout the restaurant made for a festive atmosphere, but the menu was diverse and the food delicious. From bikers to hipsters, everyone was welcome and felt at home at this spot. The raspberry caramel bread pudding was to die for! Here are a few shots of the artworks on display — and the food, of course — when we ate there:
One of the many cool artworks for sale at Tin Angel
Beautiful pasta with fresh bread at Tin Angel
Cadi enjoying her drinks (including butterscotch soda) at the Tin Angel
Lest you think all we did was eat on the trip, we also had a fascinating look into our family history with librarian Sandra Joseph at the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. Genealogy is very important in Mormon culture. The FHL is open to anyone and its friendly and knowledgeable staff will take the time to help you find out about your own family tree. It’s well worth a stop when in town.
My next post will be the start of the dinosaur-related sites we visited…Come back soon and check it out!
This coming week I am going on a super-fun assignment to Utah. I’ve been invited by the state’s tourism department to share some of the fascinating and fun sites to visit throughout Utah. My teenage daughter is the VIP for this trip, so our itinerary includes the following:
This past week I made my first (but definitely not last) trip to the Highlights Foundation facility in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Set in the countryside, there were beautiful walks and trails to be enjoyed during our free time.
A lovely view near the Barn
Award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner led the workshop, titled “Capturing the Spotlight: Getting the Gigs.” It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from Larry and other well-established authors about the nuts and bolts of school visits, promoting one’s work, connecting with librarians and teachers, etc. I had in depth-conversations with Selene Joy Castrovilla, Melanie Hope Greenberg, and Vicki Cobb (among others). The small group size made it comfortable to talk to everyone in the workshop, whether presenter or attendee. I cannot wait to go back to another Highlights workshop and look forward to continuing friendships with everyone I met here.
Larry Dane Brimner and I enjoying the view of the countryside — and Selene Castrovilla’s author car!
Selene Castrovilla’s AuthorMobile
Hanging out with new friends Jodi Moore (right) and Selene Castrovilla (center)
I was so thrilled to meet one of my favorite author-illustrators, Melanie Hope Greenberg.
Vicki Cobb and I had lots of great chats about nonfiction writing.