Secret Signing… Part 2!

Today I stopped by a couple more local independent bookstores to sign and slip stickers into their copies of ENGINERDS.

First was An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA

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And after that, Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA

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If you live near either bookstore, hurry in to get your signed, sticker-filled copy of ENGINERDS while you still can!

Books to Look Out For (September/October)

LOOK OUT!

All the books below are headed to shelves near YOU within the next month, and once they finally arrive, I will be among the first in line to get my hands on copies. I suggest you do the same. OR, if you’re simply TOO eager to wait that long to ensure yourself a copy, preorder now on your online bookselling site of choice.

. . .

Books to Look Out For: September 19, 2017 — October 10, 2017

IT’S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, written by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor — September 19, 2017

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What it’s about:

Jack is not fond of the bossy narrator of his fairy tale! When Jack is told to trade his beloved cow Bessie for some magic beans, throw the beans out the window, climb the ENORMOUS beanstalk that sprouts overnight, and steal from a GIANT, he decides this fairy tale is getting out of control. In fact, he doesn’t want to follow the story line at all. Who says Jack needs to enter a life of daring, thievery, and giant trickery? He takes his story into his own hands—and you’ll never guess what happens next!

With laugh-out-loud dialogue and bold, playful art (including hidden fairy tale creatures for kids to find), this Jack and the Beanstalk retelling will have children rolling with laughter till Bessie the cow comes home.

What people are saying:

“Once again, Josh Funk delivers something new, a little quirky, and absolutely engaging!” — Literary Fusions

“Youngsters will readily respond to this playful if sophisticated perspective wherein Jack repeatedly breaks the wall to address the storyteller.” — Kirkus Reviews

“[N]o child (or adult for that matter) is too old to enjoy an awesome picture book like this one.” — CeCeLibrarian

Why I want to read it:

Because ALL of Josh’s books are a blast, and this one promises to be just as fun as the rest. Also, who hasn’t wanted to tell off a bossy narrator at some point or another? I can’t wait to have Jack do it for me.

Visit Josh here to learn more about him and his books.

BEATRICE ZINKER, UPSIDE DOWN THINKING, by Shelley Johannes — September 19, 2017

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What it’s about:

Beatrice does her best thinking upside down.

Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!

Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?

What people are saying:

“I fell in love with the unsinkable Beatrice Zinker . . . ” —  Ann M. Martin (New York Times bestselling author and Caldecott Honor winner)

“Fresh and fun!” — Sara Pennypacker (New York Times bestselling author of the Clementine series)

“A kind child in a book for middle-grade readers? There’s no downside to that.” — Kirkus Reviews

“In the tradition of Ramona Quimby . . . Beatrice stands tall among her contemporaries.” — School Library Journal

Why I want to read it:

I always love delving into the minds and lives of those who look at things from a perspective different from my own, and considering I spend 99.9% of my life right-side up, Beatrice’s upside down thinking definitely qualifies as different! Also, Clementine and Romona are two of my all-time favorite characters in the whole history of books — if Beatrice can hang with them, she’s cool with me.

Visit Shelley here to learn more about her and her books.

THE GRAVEDIGGER’S SON, written by Patrick Moody, illustrated by Graham Carter — September 26, 2017

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What it’s about:

Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond.

But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. So he reluctantly continues his training under the careful watch of his undead mentor, hoping every day that he’s never Called and carefully avoiding the path that leads into the forbidden woods bordering the cemetery.

Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two thing—to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished, and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves.

Only Ian can stop them. With a little help from his friends. And his long-dead ancestors.

What people are saying:

“Moody packs his cemetery with magic and monsters and makes digging up the dead a lot of fun.” — J.W. Ocker, Edgar Award-winning author of Death and Douglas

“Deliciously eerie and heartfelt, The Gravedigger’s Son sweeps you into a world of Diggers, Voicecatchers, and Weavers, where only a reluctant young gravedigger can save the day.” — Sarah McGuire, author of Valiant

Why I want to read it:

The world-building sounds utterly unique, and the characters and conflicts both exciting and fascinating. Also, I’ve never met a book about a graveyard that I haven’t liked.

Visit Patrick here to learn more about him and his books.

SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR AND HIS BEST FRIEND FOREVER (PROBABLY), written by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim J. Miller — October 3, 2017

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What it’s about:

Snappsy the alligator wants nothing more than a quiet evening to himself, but a pesky chicken who insists he’s Snappsy’s best friend won’t leave him alone. Friendship bracelets? Matching shirts? The sleepover of the century? Snappsy did not ask for any of the activities the chicken—his best friend forever?—is planning. This pitch-perfect sequel to Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) explores all the ways we get friendship wrong (and why it feels so magical when we get it right!).

What people are saying:

“Falatko and Miller brilliantly add depth to the characters’ story arc.” — Kirkus Reviews

Why I want to read it:

Now that the cat is out of the bag, and you know that I’ve got some hostility toward narrators, I might as well just come right out and say that Snappsy won my heart when he told off his narrator back in his first book, SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK). But in addition to his back-talking ways, Snappsy is simply one-of-a-kind and downright hilarious. I’ve been looking forward to more from him for a LONG time.

Visit Julie here to learn more about her and her books.

THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY, by Jodi Kendall — October 3, 2017

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What it’s about:

A little pig in a big city leads to lots of trouble!

Josie Shilling’s family is too big, their cramped city house is too small, and she feels like no one’s ever on her side. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, her older brother, Tom, brings home a pink, squirmy bundle wrapped in an old football jersey—a piglet he rescued from a nearby farm. Her name is Hamlet.

The minute Josie holds Hamlet, she feels an instant connection. But there’s no room for Hamlet in the crowded Shilling household. And whoever heard of keeping a pig in the city? So it’s up to Josie to find her a forever home.

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City is a heartwarming tale of family, belonging, and growing bigger when you’ve always felt small.

What people are saying:

“The tone and characters are reminiscent of classics . . . a charming tale, ideal for fans of Jeanne Birdsall’s the Penderwicks . . . ” — School Library Journal

“An appealing protagonist figuring out what’s important to her . . . heartwarming and satisfying.” — ALA Booklist

“With echoes of Charlotte’s Web, Kendall’s sweet story of family, friendship, and growing pains should charm a broad range of readers.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Move over Wilbur, there’s a new pig in town!” — Bobbie Pyron (critically-acclaimed author of A Dog’s Way Home)

Why I want to read it:

The second I found out that Jodi Kendall had named the pig in her novel Hamlet, I knew we’d get along, and that I’d need to read her book. It helps, of course, that the characters and conflicts sketched out in the book’s synopsis are simply irresistible. I’m expecting to be charmed, moved, tickled — and very possibly inspired to consider acquiring a pet pig of my own.

Visit Jodi here to learn more about her and her books.

GREETINGS FROM WITNESS PROTECTION!, by Jake Burt — October 3, 2017

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What it’s about:

Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .

The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.

Jake Burt’s debut middle-grade novel Greetings from Witness Protection! is as funny as it is poignant.

What people are saying:

“The biggest complaint that readers may have about Burt’s debut novel is that it ends.” — Publisher’s Weekly

Why I want to read it:

As soon as I read the title I was hooked — and also, frankly, shocked that I hadn’t ever seen a novel about the Witness Protection Program before. Then, after thoroughly judging the book by its excellent cover, I actually read what it was about — and promptly ordered myself a copy.

Visit Jake here to learn more about him and his books.

SVEN CARTER & THE TRASHMOUTH EFFECT, by Rob Vlock — October 3, 2017

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What it’s about:

Sven Carter—part boy, part robot—is on a mission to save himself from destroying the human race in this fun and funny novel!

Ever since Sven Carter was caught eating a moldy blueberry muffin under the gym bleachers, earning himself the nickname “Trashmouth,” he’s been his school’s biggest outcast.

But he soon discovers that having a lame nickname is the least of his worries. After a horrible wipeout involving a bike, a ramp, and a chocolate-anchovy-garlic-mint wedding cake (don’t ask), his left arm just…well, it falls off. But before Sven can even remove the stray anchovy from his nostril, his arm drags itself across the pavement and reattaches itself to his shoulder!

That’s when Sven learns he’s not a kid at all, but a “Tick”—a high-tech synthetic humanoid created as part of an elaborate plot to destroy the human race. Now Sven, his best friend Will, and his tough-as-nails classmate Alicia must face down a host of horrors—killer clown-snakes, a giant Chihuahua, the stomach-churning Barf Bus, murderous roast chickens, and even Sven’s own brain—to save humanity from permanent extinction.

What people are saying:

“Vlock’s debut is a totally out-there adventure that switches things up at every turn.” — Kirkus Reviews

Why I want to read it:

Um, did you read that description? If you’re not already eager to go on this rip-roaring adventure, you’re nuts. I’ve been lucky enough to get a few behind-the-scenes peeks at Sven and his crew’s story, and I can assure you, this is going to be a off-the-wall, edge-of-your-seat, eye-popping ride you’re not going to want to miss.

Visit Rob here to learn more about him and his books.

THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET, by Lindsay Currie — October 10, 2017

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What it’s about:

A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful mystery.

Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.

When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.

With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!

What people are saying:

“Shivers aplenty; just the ticket for a cold autumn night.” — Kirkus Reviews

Why I want to read it:

Well, I mean, how can you resist that title? It’s a whopper. And as soon as the calendar flips over to October, I’m always looking for new, spooky and mysterious stuff to read. And if flickering lights and dolls that shed real tears aren’t spooky and mysterious, then I don’t know what is.

Visit Lindsay here to learn more about her and her books.

. . .

Are you looking forward to a book this month that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know! That way, I can start looking forward to it, too!

Psst… Secret Signing

I spent today skulking around the Greater Boston area signing and slipping stickers into copies of ENGINERDS at some of my favorite bookstores.

Here’s where I went:

Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA

The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA

Belmont Books in Belmont, MA

 Wellesley Books in Wellesley, MA


If you live nearby, hurry out to these great independent bookstores and get your signed, sticker-filled copies of ENGINERDS before it’s too late!

ENGINERDS is HERE!!!

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It’s here! It’s here! ENGINERDS is here!

If you pre-ordered the book online, it should be arriving on your doorstep soon. If you waited until today so you could buy it in your favorite bookstore, then GO. NOW. HURRY UP. WHAT ARE YOU DOING STILL READING THIS?! YOU SHOULD BE GONE ALREADY. GET. TO. THE. STORE.

You can also, of course, check ENGINERDS out from your local library. It ought to be there. And if it’s not, you ought to politely-yet-aggressively interrogate your librarian as to WHY it’s not there. Are they trying to limit or even entirely prevent the full expression of your nerdiness? Do they have something against farting robots? What did a farting robot ever do to them? (Actually, I can guess what it might’ve done to them. And on second thought, maybe it’s best not to ask your librarian that last question. You wouldn’t want to bring up a touchy subject . . . )

If you’re out and about in the greater Boston area, keep your eyes peeled — I’ll be going around town during the next few days, planting some very special ENGINERDS-themed stickers in randomly selected copies of the book.

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As always, feel free to drop me a line using the form on my Contact page should you have a question or comment for me, whether it’s about ENGINERDS or anything else. Like what I’m working on now. Or what I’m reading. Or where I’ll be making my next appearance. Or what my favorite color is. Or what I are for breakfast this morning. ANYTHING.

Happy reading! And hope to see you soon!

The DTADS, or Dog Treat Airborne Delivery System (Catapult #2)

Ah, yes. The famous DTADS, or Dog Treat Airborne Delivery System. Famous in my house, at least.

I chose to build the DTADS as my second catapult for a fairly simple reason: my dog wanted a snack. Of course, I could’ve just tossed the pooch a few treats. I didn’t need to build a miniature siege engine and launch the things at him from across the house. But doing so was approximately 49 times more fun than feeding him the regular way, and if that’s not a good enough reason to do something, then I’m not sure what is.

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This is his hungry face.

Like my first catapult, The Cotton Ball Blaster, the DTADS can be made using only a few, relatively easy-to-find materials. I made mine with just three things, all of which I happened to have lying around the house.

First:

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These thin strips of wood are called laths. They’re often used to make lattices, which are then placed along the bottoms of decks in order to keep out critters or set up in gardens in order to get plants to grow in the direction you want them to. I had a bunch of leftover laths from an old project, and as soon as I remembered they were down in the basement, busily collecting dust, I knew just how I could put them to use.

If you don’t have any laths, don’t worry. They can be purchased for cheap at a hardware store. And if you go to one of the really big hardware stores, you can even get them for free! How? Well, most of these stores either offer to cut your lumber for you or leave out the equipment you need to do so yourself. Around these areas, you’ll always find plastic bins, and unless someone has recently emptied them, these bins will be filled with the unwanted, cut-off ends of once much longer pieces of wood. Ask an employee if you can look through and take a few of these scraps off their hands, and unless they’re in a seriously grumpy mood, they should let you.

I knew the pieces of wood I had would be perfect for the two larger parts of my catapult – the base and the arm. The base is the part of the catapult that sits on the ground, anchoring it, and the arm is the part that gets bent back and released, launching whatever it’s got on it. But you can’t just lay the arm on top of the base. You need to separate one from the other using a fulcrum.

What’s a fulcrum?

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In this situation, both of the definitions above apply. Because when it comes to the DTADS, the fulcrum is utterly essential. The fulcrum is the thing that turns a couple old pieces of wood into a machine capable of sending your dog’s treats soaring high up into the air, arcing across an entire room or hallway (that is, if it doesn’t slam into the ceiling before it gets there).

For my fulcrum, I decided to use this:

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It’s a bouncy ball (a very bouncy one, in fact). But wait – there’s no need to tear apart your house looking for the bouncy ball you got at the dentist’s office that one time he told you, “You won’t feel a thing,” and then proceeded to drill actual holes into your teeth and yeah, maybe you didn’t actually feel all that much, but still it was uncomfortable and scary and I mean a bouncy ball, does that shiny-teethed lunatic really think a cheap little toy is going to erase the nightmarish experience he just put you through?!

Excuse me. Sorry.

Ahem.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t need to use a bouncy ball for your fulcrum. You can use almost anything. A rock. A stack of quarters. A wad of duct tape. Some pieces of cardboard. A hunk of old, hard cheese. Some fulcrums will work better than others, but the only thing a DTADS fulcrum must do is lift the arm up off the base, and do so at an angle that allows it to be bent back and released.

Now that I had a base, an arm, and a fulcrum, I knew I needed only one more thing: something to attach these three parts together. Ideally, it’d be something strong, yet flexible – strong enough to hold everything together, yet flexible enough to allow the parts to move around a bit (like when the arm is bent back). Maybe you’ve already figured out what I came up with:

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That’s right – a rubber band. A favorite material of the EngiNerds. You just never know when one of the things might come in handy.

And now all that’s left to do is assemble the DTADS, and that’s easy. You just have to place your fulcrum, and then bind everything together with your rubber band. But where, you might be asking, should the fulcrum go? The answer is anywhere. You’ll find, however, that certain positions allow for better launching. The ideal spot is somewhere between the middle and end of your base. You’ll have to do a little experimenting to find the perfect spot, as it’ll be different depending on the materials you use.

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Et voila! As you know from the Cotton Ball Blaster post, that phrase is French for, “Now let’s go launch some stuff!” But did you know that in Hungarian it means, “Feeding your dog his own body weight in bacon-flavored treats may or may not lead to said dog vomiting on your nice white carpet?” Unfortunately, I didn’t either . . .

Now go do some launching!

I will be! (Once this carpet’s clean.)

. . .

And now for the rundown:

Name: The DTADS, or Dog Treat Airborne Delivery System

Difficulty: if you can operate a rubber band, you’ve got this

Cost: minimal – you can surely find that rubber band and something to use as a fulcrum, and if you don’t have anything to use for a base and an arm, you can get those materials cheap (or for free!) at your local hardware store

Uses: feeding your dog from afar; feeding your cat from afar; making your carpets “bacon-flavored”

The Cotton Ball Blaster (Catapult #1)

If you’ve been keeping up with the past couple weeks’ worth of EngiNerds-related posts, then you know the first book in the group’s epic adventure involves catapults. In celebration of EgniNerds’s release on September 12th, I’ve decided to channel my own inner EngiNerd (not too tough a task) and build a few catapults myself.

For my first catapult, I figured I’d start easy. Really easy. This first, most basic of launchers requires only THREE things:

  1. an “arm” (the part of the catapult that you bend back and release to let fling forward)
  2. a “bucket” (the part at the far end of the arm where you put the to-be-flung object)
  3. something to help attach the bucket to the arm

It took me only two minutes to find these three items around my house, and I’m 99.9% sure that you can find some equally acceptable materials in your own home.

For my catapult’s arm, I decided to use this bendy ruler:

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It’s perfect for a catapult not only because it’s purple (which is tied for first place on my list of favorite colors, along with “mustard”), but also because it’s so flexible. A catapult’s arm, you probably know, needs to be bent back. It’s this bending back that traps propulsive force within the catapult, so that when the arm is un-bent, it sends its payload flying. In most catapults, this is achieved by anchoring the bucket-less end of the arm – attaching it to a heavy base or even directly to the ground. But doing so would require a few additional materials. And as I said, for this first catapult, we’re keeping things nice and easy. So my hand, gripping one end of the catapult’s arm, will serve as an anchor.

Now, onto item number two – the bucket. Approximately 90 seconds of the two minutes I spent hunting down materials for this catapult was spent in search of a proper bucket. I finally found it in, of all the places, the recycling bin.

Here it is:

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If you’ve identified the object above as a particulary uncomfortable squirrel hat or as a shrunken pink hockey puck, I have bad news: you’re wrong. It is, in fact, the cap of a milk carton. I gave the cap a good rinse, set it aside to dry, and then reached for the final item on my list – something to help attach the bucket to the arm. It took no time at all to find the perfect thing. I didn’t even have to think about it. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably already guessed what it is I reached for.

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That’s right, DUCT TAPE! That most glorious (and gloriously useful) of all adhesives.

Okay. So we’ve got our materials. Now what?

We build, of course.

I’d list the steps for you, but that seems unnecessary, considering there’s only one. Simply take a piece of duct tape . . .

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. . . make one of those little inside-out loops . . .

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. . . and use it to stick the bucket to the end of the arm:

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Et voila! That means “Now let’s go launch some stuff!” in French. And if you look around your house for items like the ones above and build your own catapult, you can be launching in no time. Just grip the bucket-less end of your catapult’s arm, place something launch-able into the bucket, yank back on the arm – and let it fly.


I like to use cotton balls:

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If you roll one up in your palm a bit before setting it in your catapult’s bucket, you can get some serious speed and distance out of it.

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Action shot! That white blur is the cotton ball, racing toward its target.

Practice makes perfect. But unless you want someone to launch something back at you, you should probably avoid catapulting at anyone. And if you just can’t help yourself, then at least make sure your projectiles are nice and soft.

Happy catapulting!

. . .

For each catapult I make over the next few weeks, I’ll include a final rundown – a quick look at the difficulty and potential costs involved in making it, and also some suggested uses should you choose to build your own. The rundown for this first catapult is as follows:

Name: Cotton Ball Blaster

Difficulty: piece o’ cake

Cost: if you’re smart enough to have a roll of duct tape in the house, zero dollars and zero cents

Uses: annoying siblings; launching lightweight pieces of trash into the trashcan; battling an army of invading snails

Yesterday Afternoon

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We interrupt your regularly scheduled EngiNerds-themed blog posts in order to deliver the following message . . .

Yesterday afternoon, like millions of people all across the country, I set aside what I was doing and headed outside. I was off, of course, to see the eclipse, my homemade pinhole projector in tow.

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I’d heard my local library was hosting a viewing party out on their lawn, and so that’s where I went. By the time I got there, a couple hundred people had already gathered. I scanned the crowd as I looked for a spot to set myself up, and was amazed to see the range of people who’d taken time out of their days to simply come look up at the sky. There were young and old and people of every age in between.

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I took a seat on a free patch of grass and began to test out my projector. It needed some last-minute tweaks, but all things considered, it worked great – exactly how all the bloggers and reporters promised it would. I checked the time, saw that I still had a handful of minutes before things really got going up there, and so decided to take a little break from hunching and squinting and concentrating on the tiny ball of light at the back of my projector.

I ended up falling into conversation with the people around me. One group that I’d assumed to be a family – a little girl, accompanied by her mother and grandmother – turned out not to be. The older lady wasn’t related to the girl and her mother at all, and had never met them before yesterday. She lived in the apartment building down the street from the library, and had fallen into conversation with the girl and her mother just like I had, and just a few minutes before I’d arrived. But they’d hit it off so well that I was soon being asked to take pictures of the trio, all of them wanting something in addition to their memories to commemorate the day.

All of a sudden a ripple of excitement passed through the crowd. Everyone who didn’t already have on their special eclipse-viewing glasses put them on, and all of us who’d come with projection boxes turned around and got them up to our eyes or plopped them down over our heads.

I’d been watching the moon creep across the sun for a couple of minutes when I felt a tapping on my shoulder. I looked, and saw the little girl I’d been sitting with. She looked at me, and then at my cardboard box, and then at me again.

“Where are your glasses?” she asked.

I told her I didn’t have a pair, and though the answer seemed to perturb her, she went back to looking up at the sun. And I went back to my projector – for a moment, at least. Because it wasn’t long before there was another tap on my shoulder.

The girl was holding her glasses out to me. “Wanna trade?”

I explained to her that watching the projection of the eclipse, while undoubtedly cool, was way less cool than looking right at it with her special glasses.

She gave me a look that seemed to say she would be judge of that, and then shoved her glasses at me.

I took them, and after showing her how to use the projector – “Cool!” she exclaimed (and fairly believably, too) – I put on her glasses, looked up, and watched the show.

I only kept her glasses for a minute, maybe not even. They were hers, after all, and I also thought it far more important for her to see the eclipse, to have her experience of this exciting day be as vivid and special as possible. And anyway, I felt happy enough just being there, among a group of hundreds who, like me, had stopped what they were doing in order to come together to do something as simple and magical as look up at the sky.

Looking around at the crowd, I saw so many other wonderful acts of kindness. There were kids passing their glasses to their siblings, neighbors, and friends. There was a man who’d rigged up a big telescope, and he was ushering over young and old alike, urging them to take a look through it. A couple of generous, super prepared parents had brought homemade baked goods and a variety of other snacks, and were going around handing them out. One woman, who’d showed up early with bags of empty cereal boxes and rolls of tape and aluminum foil was helping a handful of kids build some sort of crazy contraption out of her leftover supplies.

I don’t know about you, but things like eclipses always help me put things into perspective. I mean, how can you not feel small while watching massive stars and satellites swing around up above? But small isn’t necessarily bad. And multiple small people coming together – that can help make something big. A fun party. A healthy, supportive community.

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The eclipse was amazing, and I’m so glad I got to see it. But the sights that’ll stay with me the longest, the moments that I’ll remember when thinking back on yesterday, won’t be those that happened up in the sky. They’ll be those that, thanks to the break from our regular lives and the perspective afforded to us by those celestial events, happened right here, down on the ground. I’ll think of the little girl who traded her special glasses for my rinky-dink projector and all the other small, magical acts of kindness I witnessed out on the library grass under the sun and moon and sky.

. . . and now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

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