Punk Farm Goes Organic


Alison Morris - October 29, 2007

The past couple weeks have seen me running around like crazy, to author event after illustrator event after author/illustrator event. I’m working on a post that’ll bringing you up to speed on all of them, but first I give you this: a photo feature of one of my all-time favorites—our event with Jarrett Krosoczka last Thursday.

The background: a couple months ago, Jarrett e-mailed me to ask if we’d be interested in hosting him for a reading & signing of Punk Farm on Tour, before Random House sent him on tour to promote the book. He also mentioned that he’d be happy to do a free school visit in conjunction with the store event, which prompted a series of lightbulbs to go off in my mind. I knew a school that would be a great fit for Jarrett, and I knew what sat on the land immediately adjacent to theirs—the Natick Community Organic Farm. I’d never been there myself, but I’d seen it from the school parking lot, I’d often thought to stop at their roadside stand, and I knew them by stellar reputation. What better place, I thought, to host a farm-related book event than at an actual farm? So I called them, spoke with the remarkably enthusiastic Jane Harvey, and got her emphatic answer to my "Can we host this event at your farm?" question: "YES!!"

A few weeks later Jane told me she’d sent 7,000 fliers home with kids in the Natick school district and mailed 3,000 fliers out to families on the farm’s mailing list. She’d put a book and poster in each of eight public libraries in Natick and neighboring towns. "Can we hire you to do publicity for ALL of our events??" I asked her.

We didn’t get 10,000 people at Jarrett’s two afternoon farm events, but we did get about 55 people, which is pretty darn spectacular for anyone, let alone a picture book author/illustrator who hasn’t yet won the Caldecott Medal or topped the NYT bestseller list. Even better than the enthusiastic groups of fans at this event, though, was the setting. And the weather. And the joy of being outside and out of my windowless basement office and on what was a perfect fall day.

I honestly think last Thursday afternoon was one of the single most enjoyable afternoons of my bookselling career. Friendly crowd, friendly author, friendly hosts, fantastic space… I’m pasting some photos here so that you can see for yourself why Jarrett and I felt like we were (both literally and figuratively) in hog heaven.

Here’s the view as you drive up the short lane to the Natick Community Organic Farm:

The shot below shows some young new volunteers helping to muck out one of the barnyards, while each loudly announcing their success at having found the largest cow pie. Kid in black: "Mine’s WAAAAAY bigger!"

Here’s Jarrett beside the cozy woodstove, reading to the day’s first crowd:

And here’s Jarrett’s number one fan, Ben, who showed up wearing a visor he’d made that reads "I’m the Boss"—an homage to the hat worn by the farmer in Punk Farm:

  

Here’s Jarrett reading to another adoring crowd. (What a bunch of turkeys!)

And below, captured in my favorite photo of the day, are Jarrett’s BIGGEST fans. (Note that I could hardly take this picture because I was laughing so hard, and that Jarrett couldn’t stop commenting on the size of these guys. "I’m realizing I took a lot of liberties with my pig illustrations!" he said.)

Other animals we visited when Jarrett wasn’t reading or signing or answering my questions about his wedding, which took place three weeks ago (congratulate him!):

  

  

And here, finally, we see Jarrett accurately predicting what the Red Sox would be saying at the conclusion of this year’s World Series, a big trophy in hand:

3 thoughts on “Punk Farm Goes Organic

  1. ShelfTalker

    Beth, Believe it or not, 55 people is a pretty great turn-out, especially for someone who isn’t yet a “household name.” Event attendance is completely hit or miss, and often the latter, as we’re in a place where families are REALLY over-scheduled — a problem that no amount of advertising can easily overcome. Everyone “wants” to come to our events but their son has this or their daughter has that or there’s a game here or piano practice there or a birthday party somewhere else. It’s a constant struggle to find the “just right” time for readings and signings, I’m afraid, and a person or event has to be really big to get people to skip out their competing events or responsibilities. We had two appearance times scheduled for Jarrett during his farm event, because the Natick schools had a half day, whereas the surrounding towns did not. More people showed up at 1pm than at 3:30pm, but I think most of them were from Natick in both cases. Unfortunately we didn’t ask everyone where they’d heard about the event. (Making a mental note now to do so next time…) It could have been from the fliers the farm sent home, or the publicity Jane did at the local libraries, or from the work our store did to get the word out (info. on our website, in our e-mail newsletter, on the event calendars we stuff in all customers’ bags). But, again, to answer your question — the sad fact is that 55 people is actually quite good!

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