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Books, Dance, Music, Theater

CWEnder Laura Holman Byrne’s Tater Tot dishes on The Golden Rule

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater CWE Pets  The Cup Tater Tot Laura Byrne Emily Hart Clearwater Creek Elementary School

When CWEnders Laura Holman Byrne, a science and communications professional, and her husband Dennis, a hospitality executive, adopted an English bulldog, it never crossed their minds that “Tater Tot,” the runt of the litter, would one day become the subject of a life lessons adventures book series teaching children (and adults) lessons on how to follow the Golden Rule.

The effect their smushy-faced pup had on people of all ages surprised them. “There’s almost no one who hasn’t melted into a smile when they meet him,” Laura Byrne said. “Barriers and prejudices seemed to melt away, so while my husband and I were taken aback by the reaction, we knew we had to do something.”

Byrne’s experience in marketing and advertising was the catalyst for using Tater Tot as the perfect “fall guy” for demonstrating how important it is to show others respect, even in the smallest ways.  “It’s obviously written as a children’s book,” explains the author, “but it is also a subtle and fun way for adults to to think about their own behavior too.”

Last December Tater Tot posed for photos on the red carpet outside The Cup, 28 Maryland Plaza Rear, before a reading of Byrne’s latest book, Tater Tot at The Chase: Too Much! The Cup proprietor Ericka Frank’s background as a registered dietician inspired the author to feature moderation as a character-building life lesson. You’ll find more on Tater Tot’s connection to The Cup later in this post.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater CWE Pets  The Cup Tater Tot Laura Byrne Emily Hart Clearwater Creek Elementary School  So much has changed since December—to put it mildly—that Byrne and I finally met recently for the first time on Zoom, while Tater Tot snoozed in the background.

Laura and Dennis Byrne moved to the CWE  7 years ago.  When they were exploring neighborhoods in St. Louis, the CWE reminded them of their former neighborhood, Russian Hill in San Francisco. Byrne said that they’ve moved so often over the years that “we’ve made a pact to love wherever we live.”

In our conversation the author explained that “the goal of all of Tater Tot’s Adventures is to provide a non-judgmental way to discuss behaviors that engender respect for everyone in any situation.”   Each volume focuses on very simple behaviors that are easy enough for the youngest readers, ages 4 to 8, teenagers, and most “stubborn” adults, to understand.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater CWE Pets  The Cup Tater Tot Laura Byrne Emily Hart Clearwater Creek Elementary School

Byrne practices what she preaches in the Tater Tot books. She  has gifted over 3,000 books to military schools and organizations, children’s hospitals, elementary schools, pediatric cancer foundations and neurosurgery centers around the world.  The signing event at The Cup benefited Carol House Quick Fix Pet Clinic.

Tater Tot became known to employees at The Cup long before the book was published.  On early morning walks with Laura, the pup caught the attention of Emily Hart, the production supervisor at The Cup, when he barked at the door to the employee entrance. The visits became more frequent, the staff became smitten, and soon Hart developed a “pupcake,” taste tested by Tater Tot, which is now frequently on the menu at the neighborhood’s cupcake shop.

Hart continued: “Our experience with Tater Tot shows how connected the CWE community is. While working in a cupcake shop it’s rather hard to practice moderation, as discussed  in Too Much!, but we try our best to heed his advice.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater CWE Pets  The Cup Tater Tot Laura Byrne Emily Hart Clearwater Creek Elementary School  One of Tater Tot’s many appearances was at Coldwater Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District. Teacher Carrie Fisher could not have surprised her students more after reading Tater Tot’s first adventure, A Happy Helper, when there was a knock at the door and Tater Tot and the author were standing outside with bags of books for the students. Byrne could not have considered anything more worthwhile than sharing books with these students who showed such a sincere interest in learning and showing kindness. “They make you want to be a better person,” the author said of her visit.

Fenton elementary reading specialist Diana Stites emailed that Tater Tot is a character her students love “because he’s not only cute, they can relate to the lessons he learns in the books.”

Stiles continued: “Laura’s stories provide strong character elements that help students see the transformation Tater Tot makes as he learns and grows. The illustrations are engaging and enhance the story’s examples of respect, kindness, and learning from our mistakes. Tater Tot’s books provide a perfect example of an excellent character in a lovable imperfect pup.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater CWE Pets  The Cup Tater Tot Laura Byrne Emily Hart Clearwater Creek Elementary School

I followed up with Byrne the other day to see how an outgoing pup like Tater Tot is handling social-distancing guidelines:

“Tater Tot has been virtually busy,” she said. “Now more than ever with all the new ways to communicate, Tater Tot is showing people how to be virtually respectful!. FaceTime, Zooming, webexing, you name it. He’s been talking directly with friends and fans.”  So when you see him out in the neighborhood, be sure to say hello—from a distance of course.

Tater Tot Adventures™  can be ordered at MrTaterTot.com for $17.99 each, $30 for the set. The books are proudly printed in Missouri by Garlich Printing.

P.S. – Thanks to Laura Byrne for providing all the terrific photos.

Plans for reopening Schlafly Library

Good news from St. Louis Public Library:

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to continue to serve our community, St. Louis Public Library will be taking several precautions as we begin to make our services available again. Below is an outline of our initial plan as well as some FAQs.

On June 1 at 10 a.m., all SLPL book drops will open. Customers can begin to return items through the book drops at any location – and remember we’re now fine-free. Please keep larger items such as hotspots, telescopes and binoculars for inside return on or after June 10. Holds will be reinstated and customers can start placing items on hold through our catalog.

Beginning June 10, five of our locations (Buderopens a new window, Carpenteropens a new window, Centralopens a new window, Julia Davisopens a new window and Schlafly) opens a new window will be open limited hours with small collections you can browse. You can place requests online and pick them up, inside or curbside, at these five locations as well as at Kingshighway opens a new window, which will be open for curbside pickup only. You can also use our mobile printing option to send documents to our printers. We will print and hold them for you to pick up. Chromebook laptops will now be available for check out.

The hours of operation at these locations will be 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Customers can place holds through our online catalog at slpl.orgopens a new window, by using our mobile app or by calling 314-241-2288.

FAQs

What safety measures will be in place?
SLPL will comply with all requirements of the City of St. Louis, Order 8. Both customers and staff must wear masks or a cloth face covering inside our Libraries at all times. This applies to all individuals 9 years of age and older. Unfortunately, we will have to refuse admittance to anyone not wearing a mask. Masks will not be provided for customers. Customers and staff will be expected to practice social distancing. Staff members will be screened prior to each shift to ensure that staff members are not working if they are sick. Access in the buildings will be controlled and limited. Advanced disinfecting and sanitizing methods will be used throughout the buildings. Hand washing stations will be provided for customers outside of the buildings and hand sanitizer will be available inside each location. Reusable bags will not be allowed inside the buildings.

How will returned materials be handled?
All returned materials will be quarantined for 72 hours. This means you may see books on your account that you’ve already returned but we have not yet checked in. Don’t worry; we’ll check them in as soon as the quarantine period is over, and you won’t be charged any fines.

What services will be open?
During this time, only five of our locations (Central, Buder, Carpenter, Julia Davis, and Schlafly) will open with limited access. Each location will have separate entrances and exits and only a limited number of people will be allowed in at a time. Limited areas of our buildings will be open. Customers will be able to pick up holds and print jobs, select from a limited display of material and check out. Customers will be limited to 15 minutes inside the building. Our Kingshighway location will be open for curbside pickup only.

What will not be available in the buildings?
Customers will not be able to browse shelves, use seating areas, computers or public restrooms, and all meeting rooms will be closed.

How does Curbside Pick Up work?
First, place items on hold through our catalog. Select one of the six participating Curbside Pickup Service locations as your desired pickup Library. Once you are notified via email that your hold is ready. Call 314-539-0364 to schedule a pickup time. Items must be picked up the same day service is requested. When you arrive to pick up your holds, pull into the space reserved for Curbside Pickup. Text the phone number on the Curbside Pickup sign 314-383-3021 to let them know you have arrived and pop your trunk so staff can place the items in the trunk. A vehicle is not required to use this service.

Can I place holds over the phone?
Beginning June 10, customers can call 314-241-2288 to request items be placed on hold through their accounts.

Can I make a payment on my account?
In-person payments for lost or damaged items will not be available at this time. Customers can make payments through our website or mobile app.

Curbside pickup & delivery: ideas for gifts, art supplies, meals

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday  photo courtesy of Holliday

It’s Easter weekend, and in addition there are birthdays to celebrate, and “cheer-up” gifts we might send to friends. Peruse Holliday’s website, 4600 Olive, for a charming selection of plush bunnies, birthday candles, lotions, stationery, and much more.

Curbside pick up is available across the street at Bowood Farms, 4605 Olive, from 10 to 3 Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays. Order online and give them a call when you arrive: (314) 454-6868.

Holliday, 4600 Olive St.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday

It’s a great time to pick up a new book, play Go Fish, $12,99, or start a new puzzle. You’ll find many of these and other ideas on Left Bank Books website.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday

The neighborhood bookstore has been hosting live book readings for kids on its Facebook page (here’s Secret Pizza Party from the other day), and author events (I enjoyed Cara Black’s recent appearance promoting her latest, Three Hours in Paris).  Check the Facebook page often as different staff members are frequently live streaming, and this is turning out to be quite entertaining as they navigate new ways to sell books. (Watch Shane share his favorite titles while socially distancing with kitchen sink gloves.)

Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid,  offers curbside delivery, sidewalk hand-off, or shipping.

 St. Louis Art Supply, 4532 Olive, online, is the spot to find your favorite art supplies to keep your creative juices flowing, or perhaps it’s time to try a new artistic endeavor—anything goes these days, nobody’s looking.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday

The website is chock full of items to consider.  Here is a photo of the kids section sent by co-proprietor Carson Monetti. Send a message on the online form for anything you see above and Carson or Zena will get back to you right away.

Porch deliveries are available on orders $49+, so if a city resident selects free standard shipping on an order of that size, it will be dropped on the porch even though the site doesn’t say that. Smaller orders and those going outside the city will be shipped USPS.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday

Pi Pizzeria, Euclid and McPherson, is offering special deal meals for families via curbside pickup from 4 to 8 p.m.

From the website:

$10 Pi Pizza Maker Kit – Dough, sauce, cheese and pepperoni – you assemble with the kiddos and challenge them, and yourself with math problems for all levels. Guaranteed to burn at least 30 minutes of home-schooling!
More information here.

Feed the kiddos for $3.14 – Buy any large pizza, and get a small thin Cheese or Pepperoni pizza for $3.14. Carryout only. If you order online, your bill will be adjusted at pickup. pi-pizza.com/order

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday

The New York Times posted a kid’s recipe for Mug Cake, above. When I tested it I used an oversized cup, so it’s not nearly as skimpy as it appears in the photograph. It was fun and easy to make—quite delicious too. The recipe is here.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids Shop News  The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus St. Louis Art Supply Pi Pizzeria New York Times Mug Cake Left Bank Books Holliday

You might also consider listening to The Daily Podcast: A Kids Guide to Coronavirus . Most of the questions were from 4 year olds, so it’s definitely accessible to almost all ages. Listen first though, as it may not be appropriate for everyone in your household. It certainly enlightened this kid (at heart).

Stay healthy and stay strong. Hope to see you soon.