Congratulations to Neal Shusterman for winning the National Book Award for Young People's Literature at last night's NBA dinner at Cipriano in Manhattan. The title, Challenger Deep, refers to the lowest spot on Earth, the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Marianas Trench. The teenage narrator suffers from schizophrenia. In his mind, he takes a voyage where his mission is to reach Challenger Deep and retrieve a treasure. Each of the characters he encounters has a complementary person working at or confined to the institution where he is striving to recover his sanity. Despite the grim subject matter, the book is filled with humor. Don't miss this unusual YA novel.
All baseball fans know that Jackie Robinson integrated Major League baseball in 1947. Not nearly as many people are aware that a left-handed pitcher named Eddie Klep integrated the Negro Leagues in 1946. Klep met resistance in southern cities like Birmingham during spring training. But once the Negro American League season began, he was allowed to pitch for the Cleveland Buckeyes. Other than being caucasian, there was little to separate Klep from the herd. Small in stature, he had a mediocre fastball and a well controlled curve that broke straight down. Klep was on his way to a mediocre season when the Buckeyes abruptly released him. No explanation was provided.
Spitball #77 features my fictional take on why Klep was released. Read "My Last Days in Baseball by Ace Johnson" to learn more about this quirky event in baseball history. Visit www.spitballmag.comwww.spitballmag.com.
11/7/15 Had a great time Saturday at the Pottsville, PA, Family Reading Festival. This event, now in its 29th year, brings together teachers, librarians, kids, parents, grandparents, authors, and illustrators for a morning devoted to books and reading. Among the friendly people who stopped at my table was a young man named Erik. Visit his website www.thiskidreviewsbooks.com to discover some titles you may want to read. Learn more about the festival at www.republicanheraldnie.weebly.com/family-reading-festival.html .
11/4/15 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD - YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE November 18, 2015
Visit the "Have You Read ???????" page on this website to read reviews of the five finalist for this year's National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The committee did a great job of showing off the variety of high quality material published in 2015. If you like nonfiction, there's Steve Sheinkin's Most Dangerous, relating the history of U. S. involvement in Vietnam. Fiction offerings include a graphic novel, realistic contemporary, magical realism, and a novel with a schizophrenic narrator. All are worthy of recognition. My prediction (I'm usually wrong) is that the prize will go to Steve Sheinkin.
Chappaqua Children's Book Festival - where you can have your cake and read it, too!
Hope you were among the thousands who escaped the rain in the cozy confines of Bell Middle School. Delicious baked goods (like the one pictured above) were only part of the fun. More than 80 authors and illustrators shared their work with enthusiastic readers from toddlers to teens. It was hard to tell who had more fun - the kids, the writers and artists, or the volunteers who made the day work. Plans are already underway for next year.
9/26/15 WARWICK CHILDREN'S BOOK FESTIVAL
I enjoyed many great conversations this past Saturday. A contemporary regaled me with tales of pinch hitter extraordinaire George "Shotgun" Shuba, one of the Brooklyn Dodger heroes of our youth. The highlight of the day was meeting the folks pictured above. To my amazement, they introduced themselves as the great-granddaughter and great-great-grandson of the mighty Babe Ruth. What a treat to sign a copy of Bill Pennant, Babe Ruth, and Me for the Babe's descendants.
If you live in the New York area, don't miss the Chappaqua Children's Book Festival on October 3rd. Details at ccbfestival.org.
FALL 2015 CHILDREN'S BOOK FESTIVALS
The Warwick Children's Book Festival will feature more than 50 authors and illustrators, the Uncle Brothers Band, and a slew of activities for everyone from toddlers to teens - all in the heart of apple country. Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 26th, and visit warwickchildrensbookfestival.org for details.
Save some time on Saturday, October 3rd, to visit the Chappaqua Children's Book Festival. Now in its 3rd year, this amazing event features more than 80 of the top creators of books for children and teens, a full day of readings and demonstrations, delicious food, music, and family fun. Learn more at ccbfestival.org and join the thousands of people who consider this one of the highlights of autumn in the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Hope to see you at both of these FREE events! Please stop at my table and say hello.
Please use the link www.saturdayeveningpost.com and click on FICTION to read my latest short story, Long Gone. Sam knew it was wrong to steal a smart phone, but what had anyone ever done for him? Meet a homeless man whose life changes in one eventful night.
HOPE YOU WERE THERE FOR THIS FUN DAY DEVOTED TO BOOKS AND READING
June 2, 2015 Check out issue 76 of Spitball for my latest poem celebrating the San Francisco Giants recent World Series victory.
Titled "P'Culiar Champs", it's a riff that began with the rhythmical batting order of Panda, Posey, and Pence.
Millbrook Literary Festival - Saturday, May 30th
Thanks to all those who stopped to say hello at this year's fantastic event. Here are some photos from the panels focused on children's and YA books:
Picture the Past featured nonfiction picture book authors (l to r) Catherine Ciocchi (This Land is Your Land), Gary Golio (bird and diz), Susanna Reich (Fab Four Friends), and Doreen Rappaport (To Dare Mighty Things).
Danger! YA Fiction Can Be Deadly showcased two time National Book Award Finalist Eliot Schrefer (Threatened), Laura Weiss (Me Since You), and Kathryn Holmes (The Distance Between Lost and Found).
Fiction Truer Than Fact? My turn to be a panelist instead of the moderator. The three authors have each written nonfiction and historical fiction. From left to right, Bryan Bunch (Before Eureka!), Beatrice Gormley (Friends of Liberty), and Timothy Tocher (Odd Ball: Hilarious, Unusual, and Bizarre Baseball Moments). Our moderator was science writer Jenny Tesar.
For more information and photos of other panels, visit our website (www.millbrookbookfestival.org) or our Facebook page.
2/9/15 The February issue of Cricket Magazine is on the newsstands, featuring the latest adventure of my hard-boiled policeman living in a fairy tale world, "Captain Monday of the Forest Rangers." Whimsical illustrations by the talented Dave Clark add to the fun. Grab a copy and see if Monday is up to this latest challenge. He'll have to answer to the Emperor if he's not.
1/1/15 Happy New Year! Now through January 31st, Amazon.com is offering the Kindle edition of ODD BALL: HILARIOUS, UNUSUAL, AND BIZARRE BASEBALL MOMENTS for $1.00. Take advantage of this opportunity to start 2015 with a few laughs at a bargain basement price.
12/30/14 Watch for the January issue of Cricket Magazine containing my humorous story about the early days of automotives, "Becky Lets Off Steam." You will meet the Stanley twins, inventors of the most successful steam powered car, the Stanley Steamer. Lots of laughs as the brothers try to prove the merit of their creation. You will also learn why the cleaner, quieter, more reliable Steamer eventually lost the market to the gas guzzlers that dominate the roads today.
12/13/14 In the mood for a holiday poem? Find my latest effort, "The Flight Before Christmas", on the misnamed Poem of the Week page of this website. Scroll down to 12/20/13, 12/20/11, 12/15/11, 12/5/11, and 11/28/11 for more holiday hilarity.
11/13/14 2014 National Book Awards
This year's winners in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people's literature will be announced on November 19th. Brief reviews of the 5 finalists in the youth category may be found on the Have You Read? page of this website. (Check the entries for 10/26, 10/19, 10/2, 9/28, and 2/8.) If you enjoy memoir, nonfiction, historical or contemporary fiction, there is a title you will want to read. All are award worthy. My personal favorite is a touching memoir in verse called BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson.
9/27/14 Second Annual Chappaqua Children's Book Festival
Were you one of the estimated 6,000 people who attended this year's event on the sun splashed grounds of Bell Middle School? If so, you know all about the excitement that is generated when kids interact with the writers and illustrators of their favorite storybook characters, and meet the colorfully costumed characters themselves. While Biscuit, Curious George, Clifford, and others entertained the younger set, more mature readers sought out novels and nonfiction that will live in their minds for years to come. Then, there was the food - delicious sandwiches, wood-fired pizza cooked on site, and an amazing variety of baked goods, each delectation more tempting than the last. Throw in live music ranging from a string quartet to hip-hop and let the fun begin. Don't miss the photo gallery at lohud.com. Search under Chappaqua Children's Book Festival.
July 2014 - Two of my recently published short stories are posted on line:
Looking for a tale to read to kids? Visit www.imagination-cafe.com, and click What's Hot? on their home page. That will take you to "Playground Prospector", inspired jointly by an experience in my own childhood, and an incident from my teaching career.
If your interests lie more with humor or baseball, try "Uniformity" at Saturdayeveningpost.com. Select fiction on the home page, then click "show all contemporary fiction" on the next menu.
Set aside time to attend these fall festivals. Please stop at my table to say hello.
September 27th - Chappaqua Children's Book Festival
October 11 - Collingswood, NJ Book Festival
November 1 - Albany Children's Book Fair
Each of these events has a dedicated website with details on hours, presentations, and information about the authors and illustrators who will be on hand.
June 21st - Thanks to everyone who made the fifth Millbrook Literary Festival our best one yet. Watch for information on next year's event. We are determined to keep improving and growing!
May 3rd HUDSON CHILDREN'S BOOK FESTIVAL
New York State's largest festival devoted to books for children and teens just keeps getting better. Visit www.hudsonchildrensbookfestival.org for a schedule and a roster of the many talented authors and illustrators who will be on hand. Music, books, and a fantastic crew of volunteers make for a great day. Hope you were among the thousands in attendance! Great conversations, live music, mermaids, and , best of all, oodles of books and their creators.
1/21/2014 Anyone ready for baseball? ODD BALL: HILARIOUS, UNUSUAL, AND BIZARRE BASEBALL MOMENTS is out in paperback, published by Two Lions. This graphic look at strange events in baseball history was named a best nonfiction book of 2013 by Bank Street College. It is also nominated for the 2014 Garden State Children's Book Award. If you like to laugh, you will enjoy ODD BALL.
1/10/2014 Today the Saturday Evening Post began a new on-line feature. Each Friday, the magazine will post original fiction at saturdayeveningpost.com. I am happy to announce that my story, "Unauthorized", is the initial offering. This humorous tale should be of interest to anyone who loves books and writing. Read part one now, and watch for the conclusion which will be posted on January 17th.
Chappaqua Children's Book Festival - I hope you were among the 4,000 people who made this first annual event a smashing success. More than 150 volunteers ensured that the day ran smoothly despite the huge crowd. Parents and children enjoyed meeting such luminaries of the children's book world as Jerry Pinkney, Wendell Minor, Peter Sis, Nicky Bruel, Gail Carson Levine, and more than 60 others. Thanks to everyone who stopped at the sports themed table manned by myself and Richard Brenner. Lots of good conversation. I was even treated to a visit by a young lady who was in my third grade class in 1994. How gratifying to learn that she now writes and performs her own music! If you missed the fun this year, mark September 27, 2014, on your calendar. I don't know how the organizing committee could top this year's affair, but I know they will be trying.
Welcome to Timothy Tocher's website. Here you will find recommendations for books that I have enjoyed - crossing the spectrum from children's literature, to YA, to adult. There is also a bibliography of books that I have written. I hope you will share your opinions in a family friendly manner.
ODD BALL: HILARIOUS, UNUSUAL, AND BIZARRE BASEBALL MOMENTS has been nominated for the 2014 Garden State Children's Book Award in nonfiction. Thanks to all the librarians for this honor! Watch for the paperback edition of ODD BALL, available January 21, 2014, from Two Lions.My latest short story for adults is now (May 2013) available. Visit www.spitball.com to order issue #71 and read "Diamond Dilemma", a gilded age tale in which a skirmish in the battle of the sexes takes place at the ballpark.
Meadowbrook Press has reissued my first two chapter books, Long Shot and Playing for Pride in both paperback and electronic editions. Meet Laurie Bird Preston, a sports loving middle school student, as she tries to harness her athletic talent and contend with off court problems. Raised in a single parent household, Laurie must make friends in a new school where her father is her coach. A strong anti-bullying theme makes these novels even more timely than when they were originally published more than 10 years ago.
Do you read e-books? A free download of my take on a classic fairy tale, "Little Bad Wolf and Red Riding Hood" from Newfangled Fairy Tales, Book 1 has proven popular. This story recently (12/25-1/3) enjoyed a 10 day stay in Amazon's top 100 free kindles.
Thanks to the students at Eastford Elementary School in CT for making a hilarious video of my poem, "Help Wanted." View it at: www.schooltube.com/video/3a8a5249402152f1599e/Help-Wanted. If, like me, you always mistype those long URLs, google my name and the poem title.
1st Annual Chappaqua Children's Book Festival, October 5, 2013 With a high energy planning committee, an impressive guest list, and a beautiful community, this promises to be an exciting event. Put it on your calendar now, or risk missing Jerry Pinkney, Wendel Minor, and dozens of other award winning authors and illustrators.
2013 Hudson Children's Book Festival Saturday, May 4, 2013 Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table at this year's event.
Millbrook Literary Festival After 5 consecutive years, we are on hiatus. Watch this site for information on our 2014 event.