May 2015: The Balkans Tour and BEA

Bucharest, Sofia, and Belgrade. Three great cities and three terrific schools.

 A few of MANY highlights:

American International School of Bucharest: The ‘Balkans Tour’ was the brainchild of librarian John Kurtenbach, whom I got to visit in Peru in 2013. When he moved to Romania, he invited me to visit there as well! Librarian Stacey Socholotuk hosted me for two great days, with A LONG WALK TO WATER as their One Book One School read. I saw students from pre-K through Grade 8, and did an evening presentation for parents and families.



Here’s a link to AISB’s Facebook page about my visit:

And Stacey took me and my husband out for really good Italian food at Grano.

Anglo-American School of Sofia: Librarian Rebecca Battistoni took care of me in Bulgaria, where I did sessions for grades K-8, as well as one for a tenth-grade class (LOVE getting to visit with high-school students). While there I was able to announce that AAS was one of the second-prize winners of Salva Dut’s Iron Giraffe Challenge! The school will get a 15-minute Skype with Salva.

Our time in Sofia included two FUN dinners out. The first, with Rebecca, School Director Jim Urquhart, and counselor/athletic director Andie Urquhart; the second, with faculty and staff at a wonderful traditional Bulgarian restaurant.

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Librarian Rebecca Battistoni with friends including Joe Herr, 4th grade teacher (right), and LOTS of Bulgarian food.

AAS Facebook page link:

International School of Belgrade: My host for Serbia was Librarian Mallory Goetz. I met with students pre-K through grade 8; did a writing workshop for middle- and high-school students as well; and an evening presentation for parents. Mallory and the school brass–Director Rob Risch, Lower School principal Brian Lettinga, and Upper School principal Angelo Coskinas–took us out to Terassa, a restaurant within the medieval Kalemegdan Fortress, which wins hands-down for ‘Best Setting’ of all the restaurants we went to.

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After Belgrade, I got to spend three more days in Bucharest just for fun, including a day in the Transylvanian countryside, which looked like this:

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…with flowers growing everything, including wild orchids like this:

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And on our last night before flying home, we had my favorite meal of the trip, at The Artist in Bucharest, which offers a ‘spoon tasting’ menu: one spoonful of EVERY item on the menu! Swoon!

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After a week of jet-lag recovery, it was back on the road again, this time to NYC. I visited the Strand Bookstore, where Brianne Sperber hosted a great event with sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders from Castle Middle School in Manhattan.



I also got to catch a Mets game with my dear friend Nancy Quade. Here she is standing with her foot next to her brick at Citi Field, a gift from her son (who was best friends with my son in grades K-2): “Nancy Quade and Nathan Kaplan Remember Game 5.” (And true Mets fans will get the reference immediately. A grand-slam single? Look it up!)



The most important reason for my trip was to participate on the We Need Diverse Books panel at BookExpo America. I was honored to be asked to speak on this panel. We had a great time, but also discussed some serious issues. Thanks to everyone who attended, tweeted, and followed the live tweets–it was a terrific audience!


With the other panelists: Tim Federle, me, Ellen Oh, Lamar Giles, and Matt de la Pena. (photo credit: Claire Kirch)

C-Span recorded the event:

What a spring I’ve had! I enjoyed my travels immensely but am already back at the day job. I love my boss, and I’ve missed him:


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