Live from Target’s Book Fest! (Part 4)

Posted in Blog on Sep 11, 2010

A girl, maybe 6, with an enormous bag of popcorn and a front row seat to Ralph’s World on a sunshine-filled late summer day…blissed out! Things are busy busy busy here. Lots of activity backstage – Choo Choo Soul’d Genevieve and DC seem to be able to go from relaxed to Really ON in a second. Clearly that’s what separates entertainers from the rest of us. They’ve been introducing authors and musicians with solid enthusiasm.

In the meantime, I’ve been in and out of the backstage tent catching performances and then chatting up the talent as they come off-stage. I had a chance to talk to one of my son’s favorites, Dora the Explorer…actually the Voice of Dora, Caitlin Sanchez. This adorable 14 year old actress, who has also appeared in “Law & Order,” “Lipstick Jungle,” and films, voices Dora on the television show, as well as in collateral things like DVDs and dolls. Wouldn’t it be great for us parents to have dolls that we can record our own voices on and we could pull the string every time we needed to say “share!” or “no hitting!”

It was fun to hear Caitlin talk about how amazing it is to be part of a something that has such a positive influence on kids. She also shared how Dora fans come in all forms, including Tom Cruise whom she met because Suri is apparently a big fan. When I asked Caitlin what she likes most about the character Dora she answered that she loves Dora’s kindness and big heart, as well as the fact that she teaches viewers Spanish. I totally agree and it was lovely to see that Dora’s voice – Caitlin – seems to embody the same sweetness.

OK – this is something you don’t see every day: a 7 foot tall bear named Hip Hop Harry has just emerged from behind a curtain backstage. He’s now out there getting the kids dancing and moving all over the place. They’ve come to the stage after the American Girl people read from the American Girl book series.

Remember the music that sounded like something I’d go hear at a club? Right, Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Nap Time Players. Turns out that the reason I liked that music so much is that Justin Roberts used to front an indie music band called Pimentos for Gus. Justin’s kids band’s vibe is an indie band meets playhouse (but playhouse in an artsy neighborhood.)

Justin’s transition from indie rocker to kid rocker came when he took a job as a pre-school teacher to support himself as an indie musician. While he loved being with the kids, he realized after a year that late night gigs followed by early morning diaper changes isn’t the best fit. The experience did, however, launch him into kid music because he started writing songs for his little charges, and then kept on writing after he’d left the school. One thing led to another which led to a recent inclusion in Time Out New York’s list of 20 best kid albums and a New York Times feature.

He writes songs that have great emotional meaning for him…and for some of us parents, no doubt. The kids, they think the music fun and they can dance to it.

Well, the shadows are growing long and the kids out on the lawn are starting to get bags under their eyes…it’s been a great day of books, music, puppets and dancing. And, by the way, I still didn’t see or hear any tantrums! A true sign of a great day…OK – that, big smiles and, of course, a new book!

(justin roberts and the not ready for naptime players)