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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banned Book Week Free Giveaway!

Hi and welcome to Banned Book Week!

A few of my books have been banned, but the weirdest was the most recent:
This is a book about a girl named Katie Honors who is "a really happy kid," who has a great life which she joyously describes in the book (accompanied by excellent illustrations by Yumi Heo, who also illustrated the first Katie Honors Book, Sometimes I'm Bombaloo)... but sometimes, instead of just being able to comfortable herself to sleep, Katie has trouble because, "the jibberwillies come." How she copes with that "jibberwillies" feeling is, according to reviewers and many parents and kids who have written to me about the book, both funny and empowering.

But one librarian decided that a book that talks about how a kid copes with feeling worried would cause the kids in her school to develop worries, and therefore banned the book. It caused some trouble and uproar, partly because of all people it was a librarian -- and librarians are awesome freedom fighters who are usually battling for kids' right to read -- and also from my other books, who were sitting all offended on my bookshelf.

We have teens in us, they implied. Doing, you know, teen-ish things! Some of us even have kissing in our titles, and other suggestive stuff! And that's who gets banned? The sweet picture book?

And Jibberwillies at Night was all strutty for weeks, like, Oh, yeah, lock up the kids; I'm coming through and I am baddddd newsssssssss.


In celebration of Banned Book Week, I am giving away FREE CDs of Jibberwillies at Night. The CD features a recording of me, Rachel Vail, reading the complete text of Jibberwillies at Night, for your very own library listening pleasure. Just send me an email (to RachelVailBooks@gmail.com) with JIBBERWILLIES in the subject line, and your mailing address in the text. I'll even pay for postage.

But you have to email me by this Friday, Oct 3, so get on it!

Speaking of Jibberwillies and little kids, meanwhile -- here I am in my kindergarten school picture: all dressed up and yet quite filthy. Recess before pictures, what a subversive idea!

This innocent child grew up to write banned books; you just never know.

Rachel Vail

Saturday, September 26, 2009

what's in your drawer?

Another tip:

Keep a poem where you'll need it -- like with your makeup, or in your wallet.

This is my top drawer in my bathroom. Do you know this poem? I'll post it here in more readable type if you want...
It saves my mood, over and over. But there are others, hidden all around my apartment... and I'm always looking for new ones. Suggestions?

Have a great weekend.

Rachel Vail

Friday, September 25, 2009

GORGEOUS Friday: the eyebrow disaster

Welcome to a new feature of my blog! In honor of my book GORGEOUS, every Friday I will have a special feature designed to help you be your own most gorgeous self.

In preparation for today's launch of GORGEOUS Friday, I decided to make up my own very excellent eyebrow enhancer. (On the theory that creating beauty is so easy, all you need is confidence and a couple of minutes.)

I knew from both makeup artists and illustrators that eyebrows are incredibly important. (More on this later; maybe I'll do a BRILLIANT Monday feature or something, and share wisdom I steal from really smart/creative people.) I also learned (from makeup artists; illustrators were mum on this part) to use a little eyebrow pencil (VERY little, or you look SO ODD) and some clear stuff called something like eyebrow fix, to brush your eyebrows into place. Whenever the lovely makeup artist named Seven (on whom I based the makeup artist named Seven in my book GORGEOUS) has done my eyebrows, I look so much better. I was chalking it up to the eyebrow fix.

Well, I ran out of the eyebrow fix.

But that was not going to deter me! No way. Because I had this blog to write. Also, I had this new mascara:

It has a primer on one side and mascara on the other. So I thought, the primer is clear. It goes on with a brush that looks just like the brush my eyebrow fixer had. I am going off-label! This is a great day in the history of eyebrows!

I applied the primer to my eyebrows.

I did the rest of my makeup.

I leaned close to admire my awesome new invention.

I recoiled in horror.

It looked like I had developed the worst ever case of eyebrow dandruff ever. It was disgusting. It was, in fact, kind of scary looking. And it was not coming off. I rubbed, I blotted, I dabbed Vaseline on a Q-Tip. To know a Vail.

Finally I had to scrub my entire face and start over. I brushed my eyebrows into place with an old toothbrush and then left them, unfixed, to do what they would do. I looked okay, I think, though maybe a little stressed.


Here is my big tip for this inaugural GORGEOUS Friday: Mascara Primer is not eyebrow fix.

Bonus Tip: Try, at all costs, to avoid eyebrow dandruff.

Rachel Vail

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I am still figuring out how to post pictures here. So I have just taken a picture of the present I bought myself when I finished working on BRILLIANT, which is the third book in the Avery sisters trilogy -- coming to a bookstore near you this spring, by the way. And here it is, right on top of this post. Right? You see my orchid? Okay, so now I can do 1 picture posts. Tomorrow maybe I will try to go advanced and post more. Or maybe not. Unless you have advice...

Do you know how you are supposed to water an orchid? You are NOT supposed to drown it every two or three weeks when you remember you haven't been watering it at all, it turns out.

You put four ice cubes in it once a week, and they slowly, elegantly, melt their way into the orchid's soil.

So far so good. But only time will tell. I have a feeling 12 ice cubes after a drought will not work, either. I hope I don't test this theory; I really like this orchid.

Oh, and by the way, it turns out you can NOT feed your fish all at once either, to get over with.

Likewise with your kids.

Oh, well, live and learn.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Does any body know how to post pictures here?

I am actually tempted to find one of me with braces. Oh, the hideousness!

But maybe I will find something lovely to go along with it, like gummy bears after medicine.
Is it possible that Bruce Springsteen is 60 years old today???

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I am starting my new blog format -- as promised -- so you can be more involved. What do you think? I am hoping this will make it easier for me to blog more often, and also for you to let me know what you're thinking.

So. What did you do today?


Technical stuff, followed by more technical stuff. We've had the set-up for wireless internet since mid-June, but were we wireless?

Well, kind of.

No wires.

Just not actually, well, connected. So, I have been wireless in the same sense that I was wireless when I was in middle school, back when it was called Junior High School -- unless you count my braces. (Which, please, don't even picture.)

So today I stomped myself back down Broadway to Radio Shack to complain that the darn thing they promised would be completely easy ("you just plug it in") didn't work, and that following the instructions required a cord I didn't seem to have.

The guy in Radio Shack, who had sold me the thing to just plug in, nodded sympathetically and said I needed to buy an ethernet cable. As if, well, obviously I needed an ethernet cable. As if when I had been in there in June, buying the box I just needed to plug in and become wireless, I hadn't asked, "Do I need anything else?" As if he hadn't answered, then, "Nope, you're all set."

So I said to the guy, while paying my $11, "It would've been great if you'd told me I needed an ethernet cable when I bought that box, back in June."

He said, "Yeah. Good point. Maybe that's why people keep returning those things."

Mmm, yeah. Maybe!

But anyway, only a few hours later ("Should take approximately 20 minutes to set up" is meant humorously, I know), here I am, wireless!

Also -- shower-less, dinner-less, yoga-less... but. Wireless.

And with this cool new blog format, so you can add your comments (and suggestions, questions, encouragements... just let's keep it clean, please) right here, right now!

(I am still figuring out how to post pictures here. Have to wait for a free "20 minutes" I guess.)

Rachel Vail