Archive for the ‘ Events ’ Category


I attended the conference in NY this week at the NY Times headquarters. It was fantastic! I cannot get over how friendly, helpful and funny all the guides are that I met. These journalists put their heart and souls into their sites. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Here, back at home, I’m working hard on writing new articles and finding the best of what’s going on in and around Fort Lauderdale. Check out this amazing list of events for November, and plan out your calendar now.

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Tomorrow, September 29, 2012, is Museum Day Live!, an annual event throughout the nation where participating museums offer free admission for the day. Here’s a list of participating museums in Broward and Palm Beach. If you live elsewhere in the state or country, check out the Museum Day Live! website. Be sure to print a ticket before you go and read the rules about admission too.

Another annual event happening tomorrow throughout the country is National Public Lands Day, where you can get involved in lending a hand to protect a natural site in your area. There’s a photo contest and a whole lot more going on.

What a great way to spend a day with your family!

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My family is gearing up for a summer full of traveling and local events. If you live in South Florida, check out my list of Greater Fort Lauderdale events on

June Greater Ft. Lauderdale Events 2012

July Greater Ft. Lauderdale Events 2012

We bought tickets to the July 1st Earth Wind and Fire Concert at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood for July 1 as a Father’s Day gift for my husband. I cannot wait to go to that event. If you’ve never seen them in concert, you simply don’t know what you are missing!

If you are planning any exotic travel this summer, please share your adventures with us! Just in case you need some inspiration, read about my daughter’s Mongolia adventure last summer here.


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March 1  – March 11, 2012

Open 10:00am-10:100 pm daily

This weekend my husband and I attended the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. This gargantuan event takes place in the spring of every year and is considered one of our nations Top 40 Festivals. The very first festival dates as far back as 1930 when the members of the Plant City Lions Club wanted to celebrate the bountiful strawberry harvest. Over the years it has grown in size and popularity. And after experiencing it firsthand, I know why people love it.

Plant City, located in Hillsborough County, Florida is home to 10,000+ acres of strawberry fields. (Florida and California are the top producer of strawberries in the nation.) The county also produces citrus fruits, tomatoes, okra, beans and other veggies as well as dairy products, pork and beef. There are some 2,800 farms here.

The festivals runs from March 1-11, 2012 and there are different activities every single day. There’s so much going on, that there’s no way you can see it all in one visit. It’s best to look at the schedule and plan out the events you want to attend. There are so many carnival rides that it is overwhelming. There are tents set up all over the fair grounds to house  free live entertainment – everything you can imagine such as country music, Blue Grass groups, hypnotists, dancers, Mariachi bands, magic shows and more. There is also an outdoor main stage featuring star acts. Some of these concerts are free, while other require ticket purchases.

We attended the free Suite Caroline (age 14) concert, and it was fantastic!

The Gothard Sisters combine singing with fiddling and Irish dancing for a most entertaining performance

There are many different buildings on the fair grounds, and you’ll want to pass through all of them. One houses many exhibits from FFA members, some feature crafts and souvenirs and one showcases all the festival contest winners.  There are many vendors selling  items available for purchase. There are also contests for food, crafts, knitting, quilts, sewing, photography and so much more. If you plan ahead, you can enter one of many contests yourself.

Just a few of many colorful quilts in the winner’s showcase

I had to get a pair of strawberry earrings to remember this special event!

In keeping with the agricultural theme of the festival, there are lumberjill, strawberry stemming, livestock, poultry and rabbit competitions, to name a few. You can walk through the cattle barn and see all the contest entrants, young and old, caring for their animals. One of the highlights of our visit was watching a Junior Livestock Competition for first-time entrants, ages 8-18. It was interesting to listen to the judge tell the participants how he chose the winners.

Junior Livestock Competition Finalists

A young cowboy and his calf buddy curl up to take a rest in the livestock barn


Children competing in a strawberry stemming contest

Naturally food is a big part of the festival celebration. There are countless food stands, but without a doubt the main event is strawberries. You can buy them by the flat, quart, chocolate dipped, strawberry shakes, smoothies, jams and of course strawberry shortcake! We even saw strawberry cookies, strawberry brownies and strawberry donuts.

Just picked and dipped chocolate covered strawberries, one of life’s greatest indulgences

Apparently chocolate even tastes good with bacon!

At night the carnival lights up the entire city. We took two Ferris wheel rides on the opposite sides of the grounds so we could see the entire festival from a bird’s eye point of view. It is the only way to truly get a sense for how tremendous this fair really is.

The Ferris wheel at night under the light of the moon

A view from the Ferris wheel – see the screen in the back? That’s Main Stage where Air Supply was performing that night

An exhibit shows us just how strawberries are grown


Me in strawberry heaven!


So what are you waiting for?

Hurry up and go!






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Today is Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday. A few months ago I reviewed a terrific children’s book about Dickens on Good Reads with Ronna.

Dickens’ Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth, England has a long list of events to celebrate this milestone.

When I was in England attending the University of London for a semester, I got this amazing poster of Dickens’ characters, which is on the wall in my office. It came with a legend that lists who all the characters are. I cherish this!

Happy Birthday Charles!

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I was invited to be one of 14 visiting authors at April is for Authorss in Palm Beach County this past weekend. This is the first year the county has held this event. The venue was the beautiful new Palm Beach Gardens Community High School. It has a tremendously large and modern Media Center. There were several author panel discussions, and each author presented to visiting groups twice. Plus author Dr. Joan Kaywell, Professor of English at the University of South Florida, was the Key Note Speaker. I sat on a panel for picture Book Authors with  two talented authors, Beth Erland and Helen Ketterman. We discussed the writing and illustration process and educated the audience about the realities of publishing.

I met the friendliest most interesting fellow authors during the event, and it was fascinating to hear about their writing and publishing experiences. Kudos to event co-chairs Sue Slone and Helen Zientek for planning and organizing such a wonderful event. Thank you to all the volunteers and school staff, who were so helpful as well.

If you missed the event this year, be sure to attend next year!


Palm Beach Gardens High School Media Center


My book signing station


“Dear Author”  panel in the media center


Always nice for an author to see her name on a sign!


Introducing Lilly Badilly during my author presentation


Great to see Alina Orenstein, one of my favorite Palm Beach County Media Specialists!


Fellow author and most talented batik artist Beth Erland.


Event Co-Chairs Sue Slone (left) and Helen Zientek

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Downtown Fort Myers came to life yesterday at the Reading Festival! There were thousands of visitors, and the Badilly family got to speak to hundreds of children and their parents and grandparents and sell books. There were authors, illustrators, entertainers, crafts, food and more. And the event was held along the beautiful waterfront downtown. We had a great time! Every city in America, big or small, should have a reading festival every year!

Check out the photos from the event.


A gorgeous day & great event along the waterfront in downtown Ft. Myers.


Setting up our booth


Our booth attracted a lot of local teachers


Grandpa Willy and Lilly


The Lee County state-of-the-art BookMobile – Incredible!


Inside the BookMobile 4,000 titles, including Lilly Badilly!


Susan Roseberry, librarian extraordinaire!


Our new friend and  next door exhibitor, Shari Rodgers from Barefoot Books

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Today was truly a remarkable and most memorable day. Just watching that vast sea of optimistic people united for the same purpose on the Mall in DC was overwhelming. It does not matter whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, African American, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, male, female, young or old, straight or gay, struggling financial, middle class or affluent, you have a new President. You have new hope for a better tomorrow.

Today is an inauguration for new leadership and for a fresh start for every one of us. I am proud that we have elected our first African American President. But the future of our great country should not be about color or gender or heritage. It should be about competence, honesty, compassion and the vision to restore the American Dream.

If you have never read the Constitution of the USA, get to it! Read all the amendments too. The brilliance of our founding fathers from 2 centuries ago will restore complete faith in our system and remind you what true freedom means. It is what America is all about. As soon as your children are old enough to understand the basic principals, encourage them to read it as well.

Today our children saw that a man (who was once a student like they are, who did not come from a privileged background, who against all odds did something extraordinary) realize his dream. He accomplished this with pure persistence, hard work and determination and the intelligence and charm to rally the support of billions of people around the globe.

Isn’t that a lesson for us all?

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We had a fact-packed, fun day at Grassy Waters Elementary today in West Palm Beach. What a beautiful new school that is! The library looks like a Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Media Specialist Alina Orenstein does a fantastic job with the displays to make sure all the kids are drawn to some excellent books.

I was impressed by the media equipment and morning communications, prepared by students. Also, there is a morning stretch and short exercise segment for the entire school. Way to go! Kids need to exercise, and this sends a most important message.

As usual, the kids were adorable. They thought my costume was really funny and my voices were silly.  We had a lot of audience participation. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming. Thank you Ms. Orenstein and to everyone else at Grassy Waters Elementary, and have fun with your Book Fair this week! I know you will all find lots of great books to read.

I had a nice surprise when I arrived at the school only to find that my daughter’s favorite 6th grade teacher, Ms. Woods, was working there. She is an awesome teacher, and Grassy Waters is very lucky to have her!

Photos of the program and shot with Principal Wilkinson.

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Libraries are often overlooked and underutilized, and librarians are often unappreciated. Do you take your kids to the library on a regular basis? There is so much to offer! From huge cities to small town libraries, you’ll find fantastic programs. Here are some of the MANY programs I’ve discovered:

  • Bedtime stories for toddlers
  • Traveling book mobiles
  • Pet Reading Projects – Kids practicing reading out loud to a specially trained dog
  • Self Improvement Seminars
  • Art Projects
  • Book Clubs
  • Contests
  • Birthday Parties for Books
  • Mystery events (Nancy Drew and others)
  • Book Club Meetings
  • Author Visits
  • Tea Parties for Girls
  • Teen Volunteer programs (restocking shelves and helping kids find books)
  • Teen knitting for the needy
  • Comic Book conferences
  • Genealogy Programs
  • Ghost Story Time
  • Writing Workshops
  • Baby Sitting Training
  • Reading Festivals
  • Book Reviews
  • Homework Assistance
  • Yo Yo Workshop
  • Used Book Sale
  • Concerts/Sing Alongs
  • Chess Tournaments
  • Monopoly Tournaments
  • Home School Programs
  • Guided Internet Sessions
  • Puppet Making
  • Costume Design
  • Art Shows
  • Readathons

So take advantage of your local library. It is undoubtedly one of the best uses of our tax dollars! The programs, books and media materials are free, and the benefits are endless. Just remember, there are kids all over the US who could never afford to buy a book and would not have access if it weren’t for their school or public library.

Also, please remember to thank your librarian. They are dedicated to helping educate you and your family. I have learned that the amount of work they do to process new titles, manage the staff, meet the needs of the patrons and keep their libraries up to date is extraordinary!

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