Ellen Sussman and the adorable courtesy "fireplace."
Before Litquake celebrates its 15-year anniversary in October (the traditional gift is crystal), we get Litquake Palo Alto, a kind of literary foreshock at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center on Saturday. An all-day affair of writing workshops and public readings, Litquake PA is shaping up to be so quirky and endearing that we're a little bit disoriented. Consider:
1. Therapy Dog and Therapy Dog Biographer Combo so Cute it's a Health Hazard: Lola is a five-pound Yorkshire terrier with a Facebook page and a gig as a therapy dog at California hospitals. Marcia Goldman writes picture books about Lola, including Lola Goes to Work and Lola Goes to the Doctor, which use adorable Yorkie photos to comfort kids anxious about hospital stays. If your frontal lobes haven't already melted from just how unconscionably cute this is, Lola and Marcia are coming to the JCC to read directly to your kids at Litquake. (If the dog can actually read that'll be the last straw for us.)
2. Shadowy Figures Lurking Around Children a Good Thing in this Context: Daniel Barash's Shadow Puppet Workshop will be on hand to teach kids about puppetry while performing wall shadow versions of classic folktales. Though the event is ostensibly for children, JCC's chief of marketing Mimi Sells says that they get so many requests for shadow puppet theater for grown-ups that they might put it on the agenda next year. "You're not the first person to bring this up," Sells says. Honestly, we were being facetious when we made the suggestion, but apparently there's real demand for this. In the meantime, they've extended permission to crash the kids' screening (just as long as you're not creepy about it).
3. Fake Fire Provided For Your Comfort at Fireside Reading: The schedule includes five "fireseide readings" (including Jason Friedman's Fire Year LGBT stories and Edan Lepucki's post-apocalyptic sci-fi chronicle California)—but because an actual fireside reading in the midst of an August heat wave would make the featured author's next works posthumous, organizers set up a tiny prop fireplace, complete with kindling. "It sits in my office the rest of the year," says Sells. That might be cuter than the therapeutic Yorkie.