Kinda Gives New Meaning to "The Daily Grind"

Alison Morris - November 16, 2007

I’m cooking up a lengthy post about the many, many author and illustrator events we’ve hosted in the past month, but thought I’d entertain you all first with a look at the ideas I tossed around in anticipation of our event with Kate DiCamillo last Friday.

Because her new picture book Great Joy features an organ grinder with a fez-wearing monkey, my original idea was to order a red fez for everyone in attendance at the event, preferably embroidered with the words "Kate DiCamillo gives me GREAT JOY!" But alas, even cheap non-embroidered fezzes turned out to be surprisingly expensive. Or at least, they cost considerably more than the pens we had imprinted for our event with Rick Riordan. (A side note: I had to look up the plural form of "fez" to be sure it actually contained two z’s and learned that "fezzy" is an adjective. Ten points to anyone who can use it in a sentence.)

When the fez plan fell through I looked into hiring an actual organ grinder and monkey to "work the crowd" before our event. I figured there were slim odds of us finding anyone local who actually owned the right skills and props to pull this off, but lo and behold! A Google search containing the words "organ grinder" plus "monkey" and "boston" brought me to Hurdy Gurdy Monkey and Me, a.k.a. Tony Lupo and Coco (the monkey) of Newton, Mass., which is right next door to Wellesley! Had Tony not been out of the country last week, we might’ve signed him up for our DiCamillo evening. I’ll admit, though, that I’d was a bit nervous about this stipulation on Tony’s website:

"This is an INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION: This performance includes physical contact between the monkey and the audience. The client is responsible to provide… notification in advance if there are children attending your event that have allergies to peanuts, latex, hair, fur or any other allergy that would LIMIT OR RESTRICT physical contact with the monkey during our presentation."

Yes, like peanuts on airplanes, gone are those carefree hurdy gurdy days… (sigh.)

As it turns out, I needn’t have been so elaborate with my suggestions for saluting Kate. A few markers and a white t-shirt might’ve been enough to get the message across.

Here’s how Chloe Grace, age 8, shared her feelings for Kate (beside her in the photo below), which were first established a year ago when she read The Tale of Despereaux:

I think Chloe’s shirt shirt says more than any fez or monkey ever could.

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