Tag Archives: book event

Click Here to Start Launch and Power Button Start Cookies

  
This past week, we celebrated the release of my husband, Denis’, debut novel, Click Here to Start.

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This awesome book cover was illustrated by Octavi Navarro.

The book chronicles twelve year old Ted, who is a whiz at Escape the Room Games, and his two friends, as they cleverly figure out what is behind the clues left by Ted’s great uncle – a WWII veteran of the Nisei Brigade from Hawaii. Ted is sure there is something valuable to be found in his late uncle’s apartment, and he has to use his gaming knowledge to do it. Along the way, the trio realizes there are other people searching for the same “treasure”, and they may not be so “friendly”. Ted and his friends have to use their wits and brains to solve the mystery – and ultimately, themselves, in this fact-paced, kid friendly novel.

The audio book, produced by Listening Library, was released at the same time, which was very exciting! It’s narrated by Greg Watanabe, an actor and comic. He does a wonderful job! I love how he’s able to do the different voices of all of the characters, whether they are male or female, young or old, from Hawaii or from the mainland… He gives each of them a distinct personality.

So far, the book has gotten such positive reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, kidlit bloggers, teachers, librarians, kids. It was named a School Library Guild Section and an Amazon Best Books of the Month Selection.

“As addictive as your favorite video game. I couldn’t put it down.”-Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm

“Humor, believable characters, and adventure…keeps readers in suspense to the end. A winner for mystery enthusiasts.”-Kirkus Reviews

“In this clever debut, Markell takes readers on a clue-filled adventure…[and] maintains an energetic, entertaining balance of character-driven narrative and tricky challenges.”-Publishers Weekly

“Markell’s highly entertaining debut novel…is a well-paced read with fully realized and likable characters,…[and] should have strong appeal to gamers, fans of video game-based stories, and reluctant readers.”-School Library Journal

And today from Jean Westmore of the Buffalo News:

“Markell offers plenty of scary suspense, thrilling action, references to literature and movies and lots of humor in his cleverly constructed puzzle. The book is dedicated to “the valiant men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team, who fought so bravely for the U.S. at a time when their Japanese-American relatives back at home were being treated so dishonorably.’ His wife’s uncle was among them.”

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For the Click Here to Start book launch at BookCourt this past weekend, I made Power Button Start Cookies. Jamie, our son, was a great help with frosting and packaging. He’s so proud of his dad! 🙂

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For the cookies, I used my tried and true sugar cookie and royal icing recipe I’ve used for holiday cookies in the past. This time, I used powdered egg white merengue for the frosting, and I think it really made a difference. The exterior piped frosting was perfectly hard. I am just not so great at piping! I dyed the frosting a bright green to match the Start button on the cover of the book. We frosted them green, then later, I piped the Start symbol on top in white. It is an extra step to do the piping and then the fill with diluted frosting, but the results are much better. You get a crisp outline and a very smooth interior with no ridges.

The event was wonderful. Fun to see old friends and new ones. Denis spoke about how he came to write the story, which is inspired by my uncle, Nicholas, Nakabayashi, who fought with the 100th Battalion during WWII. Denis also had fun playing Escape the Room Games with Jamie as research. 🙂

 Denis-and-Aubry-at-Book-COurt
I was surprised that almost all of my 38 cookies were eaten at the event! Only two remained, which we enjoyed after the big event. 🙂 

  

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Cookies, Desserts, Uncategorized

Chocolate Hardware Tools and Book Signing in Brooklyn

Melissa Iwai 2016

Melissa Iwai 2016

Anne Rockwell, the author of Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, and I will be at BookCourt (163 Court St.) in Brooklyn tomorrow  (March 26) at 2 pm to read and sign books. I will also talk a bit about how I created the artwork for the story.

I also made a bunch of treats to bring to the event!

First up are dark chocolate and milk chocolate tools. I bought a cute tool mold here to make the candies. I melted chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals (about 1.5 to 2 minutes). Mixed well to get rid of any lumps and poured into the molds.

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Getting the chocolate in the nooks and crannies takes a bit of time. You can nudge the chocolate with a spoon. Then, I wiped the edges clean with a damp paper towel and tapped the mold hard on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. I found the dark chocolate to be easier to work with. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to chill. The milk chocolate took longer to harden. Also, I discovered that the longer you let the chocolate chill, the easier it is to remove.

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To do so, you just turn the mold over and gently press on the shapes. The chocolate should snap out in one piece.

Finished tools -- they are so shiny!

Finished tools — they are so shiny!

I wrapped the chocolates in foil, and then printed out my illustrations of tools from the book and affixed them to the wrapped chocolates.

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For the toolbox, I made gingerbread. I used the same recipe I used for my Haunted Gingerbread House and Magna Tiles, but made one and half batches. I was inspired by this blogger’s cute tool box, but I made my own template, and I used a breadstick instead of a straw for the handle.

The trick is to roll the dough out on the baking sheet on parchment.

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Then, using a template, score the dough gently with a knife. Bake for 15 minutes. While the dough is still warm, cut out the shapes. This ensures a sharp clean edge.

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Then I frosted the pieces using this recipe. I am not so great at frosting and made my flooding icing too thin. 😦 So my toolbox is not so pretty. But it holds my chocolates well. I made a divider out of card stock that is labelled “dark chocolate” and “milk chocolate” on each side so people can choose their favorites.

If you are in the Brooklyn area, please stop by and say “Hi” and grab a chocolate tool! 🙂

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Chocolate Candies

1 bag chocolate pieces

  1. Pour 5 oz. of chocolate into a medium bowl.
  2. Heat at 30 second intervals in the microwave oven, checking the chocolate each time. You don’t want to overheat it. When it is smooth and silky when you stir it, stop heating. For dark chocolate it was about 90 seconds. For milk chocolate it was a little longer.
  3. Pour chocolate into candy molds. Be sure not to overfill. Nudge chocolate with a spoon or knife into nooks and crannies.
  4. Wipe around mold if you got chocolate in between shapes. Chocolate will come out easier if all the edges are clean. Tap mold hard several times on counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. To remove, turn mold over and gently press on the bottom. Chocolate should pop out easily.

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Filed under Art Related, Children, Cookies, Desserts

Fun Filled Weekend Involving Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Children's Museum. It looks like a square yellow submarine

I was in the midst of a deadline last week and didn’t have a chance to post a recap of our Brooklyn Children’s Museum visit.

If you are ever in the area, you* must* visit the museum which is located in Crown Heights.  It was renovated in 2008 and is a truly spectacular.  It is more spacious and inviting than its Manhattan counterpart (you can literally spend all day there!), and it’s the first “Green Museum” in the city.

To celebrate the opening of Muriel Feldshuh’s Brooklyn Literacy quilt, I read Soup Day in the museum library for Story Time.  All six of Muriel’s quilts are on display there.  It is fun to find favorite authors and illustrators in each one.

J insisted on "helping". My "green bean" square is in the 2009 orange quilt behind us.

Then we got creative and made collages out of a bunch of different materials.

The children were so enthusiastic with their projects. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy meeting people (some came especially for the event–thanks, guys!) and helping out with gluing and cutting.  It was great fun.

After the workshop we ate lunch in the cafeteria and then visited our favorite part of the museum:  World Brooklyn.

Jamie has always loved this area from the time we first visited when he was just four.  World Brooklyn celebrates our borough and its amazing diversity. The “hands on” exhibit is comprised of child-sized versions of real stores in Brooklyn which kids can explore and do activities in.

Being a cashier in the International Grocery Store

The fake food is so realistic!

I love this sign which has sample shopping lists for a range of ethnically diverse meals.

Baking pizza at L and B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst

Serving pizza

Baking Mona Bread at Don Paco Lopez Panaderia in Sunset Park

On to real food…

We had another movie afternoon the next day.  This time the feature was The Fellowship of the Ring (Denis and Jamie had just finished reading The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring).  It gave me an excuse to make popcorn!

I was completely lusting after The Choco-aholic’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn recipe for days and had to make a batch.  I’m sure hers is much more “gourmet” than my lightened version, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of brown sugar, plus 1/2 lb. of chocolate and 1/3 of a jar of peanut butter for just one batch of popcorn!  If you want to make the original recipe, I say “go for it” though! 🙂

Ours was mighty tasty and the level of richness was just right for us.  The caramel flavor melds with the chocolate and peanut butter so perfectly.  Even the lightened version had the perfect trinity of sugar, salt, and fat, creating the “bliss point” of irresistibility that David Kessler writes about in The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite  … Ah well, everything in moderation!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

Adapted from The Choco-aholic  (Lightened up and without the kettle salt, as I didn’t have any)

Non-stick spray

10 cups of popped popcorn (I used an air popper)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4  cup of light corn syrup

4 ounces of milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Pop popcorn and place in a large mixing bowl.

3.  In a large pot combine  butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes.  Add chocolate chips and stir to melt.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

4.  Pour the boiled chocolate mix onto the popcorn. Toss until all the popcorn kernels are evenly coated with the chocolate.

5.  Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15  minutes. Remove, sprinkle with salt, stir and let cool for about 30 minutes.

6.  Melt peanut butter in microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  Pour chocolate popcorn back into mixing bowl and pour melted peanut butter over popcorn and coat evenly.  Refrigerate until hardened for about an hour.

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