Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Florida Sights

And the school visit season has begun!  This is the view I should be seeing more frequently for the next few months:

This particular scene was in Gainesville, Florida where I spent 2 days visiting schools sponsored by the Alachua County Library (thank you!). Even though it was a little challenging on my end (I'm still dragging along the Sasquatch and Rain Dragon with me), the schools were so great and understanding (especially when we got lost and arrived late at one! I'm still very, very sorry!). They welcomed me so beautifully with gorgeous artwork:

and beautiful food! This was homemade Taiwanese cold meat and cucumber salad (just like my mom makes) and the yummiest key lime pie ever. They wanted to do a mix of my books and Florida cuisine. It was delicious:

While in Florida, I also visited some Families with Children from China groups which was truly a touching and lovely experience. I admit that these days I've been feeling a bit discouraged by my work--it's quite heartening and oh-so-encouraging to meet readers who tell me that my books made a difference in their lives.

Plus, I met a real life Ling and Ting!

And they weren't the only pair! At the Families With Children from China group in Jacksonville, I met the Romano twins:

These girls were one of the pair of twins that helped inspire the original Ling and Ting (you can see their names in the dedication of the first book!). But now they're all grown up! Maybe I should think about making Ling and Ting novels...

Jacksonville may have been Rain Dragon's favorite place during our Florida trip. The group made her the sweetest quilt:

Which we both were thrilled by:

But what really made her unwilling to leave Jacksonville was the fact that the group had, as decoration, created a balloon dragon:

which they put in our room afterwards:

She still hasn't forgiven me for not taking it back with us.