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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Insufficient Thanks with a Surprise Twist Ending

You may wonder how this post has any relevance to children’s literature. Trust me. There’s a connection.

So I had my baby shower the other day for Future Test Unit #1 (we’re playing with online pseudonyms at the moment) and it was a blast. It was held here in the main branch of NYPL and featured (amongst many delicious foodstuffs) these little tiny cupcakes from Baked by Melissa that just have to be seen to be believed:

Most dangerous substance known to man. Bar none. It doesn’t take much coaxing to find my stuffing 15 of those in my mouth at the same time. Seriously.

In any case, it had all been arranged by my superhero boss Louise with help from some friends and family. And surprise of all surprises, my sister showed up! You should know that my sister is a purple mohawked actress living in L.A. She’s like me, only she can act and do things with her hair that I would never dare (ex: I’ve never even gotten highlights).

So Kate, my sister, had an idea for a cool gift for me. Cool’s not quite the word for it. Epic might be closer. She knew that

A: I like children’s books and

B: I would probably want my child to read them.

So she systematically tracked down as many authors and illustrators as she could via my blog and asked them to send my Baby Bird a gift. And these folks, who honestly had no reason on this good green earth to do so, bent over backwards to accomodate. They didn’t have to. And yet.

End Result: 84 books from 58 authors and illustrators. Signed.

Amazing, right? I mean, imagine sitting at a baby shower and finding four BOXES of signed books from authors and illustrators of every stripe. It was overwhelming. So a great big thank you to the following in no particular order:

Jenny Moss
Lisa Yee
Mac Barnett
Sharon Creech
Peter Brown
Bridget Heos
James Preller
Stephen Savage
Alison Ashley Formento
Anna Alter
Kate Messner
Kate Feiffer
Tammi Sauer
Elizabeth Dulemba
Barbara O’Connor
Alan Silberberg
Aileen Leijten
Toby Speed
Melanie Hope Greenberg
Jarrett Krosoczka
Tony DiTerlizzi
Sarah Miller
Tomie dePaola
Julia DeVillers/Jennifer Roy
Kathi Appelt
David Small
Alexandra Siy
Kate DiCamillo
Dan Yaccarino
Matt Holm
Neil Gaiman
Adam Gidwitz
Kyle Olmon
Frieda Wishinsky
Mitali Perkins
Barry Deutsch
Sarah Deford Williams
Cynthia Lord
Elaine Magliaro
Candace Fleming
Cynthia von Buhler
Deborah Freedman
Robin Preiss Glasser
Aaron Zenz
Wilson Swain
Suzanne Selfors
Adam Rex
Fran Manushkin
Kirby Larson
Liz Garton Scanlon
Marc Tyler Nobleman
Jane Yolen
Tad Hills
N.H. Senzai
Sergio Ruzzier
Dan Santat
Tom Angleberger
Kevan Atteberry

Overwhelming? Humbling? Jaw-dropping? Doesn’t begin to cover it.  Guys, I am overawed.  This was, without a doubt, the nicest present ever.

Now comes the . . . uh . . . well, the twist, let’s say. Kate’s an enthusiastic soul. I like to say she never does things by halves. And she had this swell idea. But Kate’s gift had one teensy tiny flaw. Back in November I mentioned to her some of the baby names we were bandying about. So Kate asked the authors and the illustrators to sign the books to the potential girl name: Molly.

The trouble? We’re not naming the kid Molly. Honestly, by January we’d scrapped it in favor of the real name.

So as of right now I’ve 84 books in my home, many of them signed to a mysterious “Molly”. It was almost enough to make Matt and me wonder if we should reconsider the name. Not really, though. You don’t want to be guilted into babynaming after all. The books, therefore, will be thoroughly read by my child and shall heretofore be referred to as The Molly Books.

So THANK YOU! Many of you went above and beyond the call of duty (Kathi Appelt, Aaron Zenz, and Kate DiCamillo come to mind in this respect). I cannot thank you enough and this is an inadequate way of doing so, but due to pregnancy carpal tunnel (how had I never heard of this before?) it must suffice. You guys are amazing. And Kate, you’re pretty cool too.

By the way, if you’d like to get a glimpse at the world’s worst baby shower cakes of all time, the true antithesis of my delightful tiny cupcakes, seek ye no further than this post. That meatloaf baby is ah-gonna haunt my dreams tonight, I just know it. Thanks to Steve for the link!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Of course, Molly is an acrostic for Most Outrageously Loved Literary Youngster. And giving her all these lovely books is nothing but mollycoddling..

  2. You’re Welcome! You can have your middle name changed legally to Molly and all the books become yours when Baby Bird enters JHS.

  3. You’re welcome, Momma Bird!

    (The two of you – three of you? – look smashing. As do the cupcakes.)

  4. Sounds like a great shower! And a great story for your yet to be named child. I can’t believe some of those cakes! No wonder I don’t like baby showers. Who could eat the baby shaped cakes or the even less tasteful (maybe?) anatomical cakes?

  5. Oh, what a totally awesome gift! And I bet all those authors and illustrators were happy to do it for someone who celebrates their books!

    Now I’m even more rooting for Baby Bird to be born on my birthday (June 14)! Even more because what a wonderfully well-read baby she will be! (And all her life, she will be proud to be born on a HOLIDAY – Flag Day – the greatest holiday of them all!)

  6. Kate is one remarkable sis.

  7. If you adopt me, then do I get to have some of the books?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Lisa, I would gladly adopt you. One catch: How do you feel about changing your name to Molly?

  8. Jenny Schwartzberg says:

    Wow. That is indeed the most awesome baby shower gift ever! And those cupcakes! SIGH. I know your baby will have a wornderful life with you as a mom!

  9. Jenny Schwartzberg says:

    Sigh. Wonderful not wornderful. Embarrassed here in Chicago.

  10. This is the sweetest, funniest story. Your sister is amazing!

  11. Kirby Larson says:

    What? Not molly? I want the book back.

  12. What a wonderful story – and a wonderful sister! I love that you are calling them The Molly Books. 😀

  13. Adam Rex says:

    Crap. Well, next time I’m in NYC we’ll have to meet somewhere. I’ll turn the name Molly into a picture of some kind and re-sign it.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Adam, had I but known I could meet up with you by merely getting my sister to contact some 50+ authors I’d have done it sooner. You are on!

  14. You’re welcome! Thanks for the lovely post, photo and cupcakes, too. All best for a happy birthing day!

  15. While I dislike cupcakes (it’s true), your shower sounds like it was all kinds of awesome. I will now forward this post to my sisters in the hope that it might shame them into one day giving me similarly amazing gifts.

  16. Perhaps 84 correctly addressed book plates to be applied over “Molly” would be a good first-birthday gift? (Certainly easier to carry out to the car after the party.)

  17. BTW, chocolate chip pancake cupcakes might be the best thing I’ve learned of in some time. It’s practically holy.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      They’re made with maple syrup flavored frosting. I kid you not. Heaven doesn’t quite describe them.

  18. What wonderful gifts. And what a wonderful sister! I’ve got a question as well. I’ve been out of the loop and haven’t heard–when’s the due date? (from the looks of the picture, it might be in the next half hour!)

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      June 12th. However, on both sides of the Baby Bird’s family folks have a tendency to come a bit late. Then again, I do look fit to burst, so maybe it’ll be sooner? Hard to say . . .

  19. Sister says:

    Thanks for the shout-out sis. Glad you liked the gift, though sorry again for the biiiig oops on the name. And thanks to all the authors and illustrators for helping me bring this together, it’s really their gift, not mine!

  20. Betsy,

    I ALWAYS give children’s books as gifts at baby showers. At the last baby shower that my daughter and I attended, we gave the mother-to-be several of my favorite picture book read-alouds for toddlers–as well as a few poetry books. The mother-to-be came over to my daughter and me before we left and told us that our gift was the best one that she had received.

    I hope you and your baby have memorable times reading The Molly Books!

  21. You’re welcome! What would we do without sisters, mohawked and otherwise.


  22. Betsy you look FANTASTIC pregnant – it’s not a look that most of us carry off without a churlish expression and/or hideously swollen somethings, but you look beautiful! Fingers crossed as you approach the big day, and if you feel like being early, may I recommend June 3, my Ezra’s birthday. Very auspicious.