Monday, May 2, 2011

The L.A. Times Book Festival Settles into Its New USC Home

The L.A. Times Book Festival's move to USC was a welcome one at Franklin Avenue thanks to the closer proximity to home. And although it took a few moments to get used to the new set up and layout (vs. the old, familiar presentation at UCLA), we approve.

First off, it wasn't hard to find street parking on Sunday morning (we easily found a spot on Jefferson), saving us $10. From there, things got a bit hairy, as there were no signs that far away explaining where to go. So based on pure instinct, I headed for the heart of campus. And sure enough, signs started appearing. Soon I was on my way to the kids' area (sponsored, as usual, by Target).

The goal: To see popular children's book author Mo Willems (above) read from one of two of his tomes. Like many a Gen X parent, we've pushed Willems' fantastically fun books on our kids -- including the Pigeon, Elephant & Piggie and Knuffle Bunny series. Thankfully, they dig 'em... and thankfully, Willems was completely entertaining on stage.

The "Elephant & Piggie" books are Easy Readers, he explained, which is why one book in the series is called "My Friend is Sad" and not "My Companion Has Manic-Depressive Disorder." Willems also revealed that the next Elephant & Piggie book, "Should ! Share My Ice Cream?" ("Because I rip from today's headlines," he quipped) will be out this summer.

Before Willems, we got to the kids' stage in time for... yep, Disney Junior's Choo-Choo Soul. Those insanely catchy yet annoying "Choo Choo Soul" music videos used to run constantly on Playhouse Disney; I haven't seen them as of yet on the rebranded Disney Junior -- but yet I find myself now rooting for Genevieve and D.C., who try so hard and yet haven't quite gotten their break.

At one point, an out-of-breath Genevive started spelling words out to the kiddies. "Are you feeling O-L-D?" she asked after finishing one number under the hot sun. Try doing that for five years while wearing P-O-L-Y-E-S-T-E-R, she added. Poor Genevieve. Apparently Choo-Choo Soul needs a R-E-S-T.

Among the other sights on Sunday:

Franklin Avenue pal Eric Lynxwiler was at the Angel City Press booth, signing copies of "Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles" and "Knott's Preserved" while wearing this snazzy, vintage Wilshire Blvd. bowling shirt.

Free ice cream. Sure, you win again, Target.


The cooking stage.


Poetry stage.

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