After months of planning and prepping by Betsy Bird, Liz Burns, and myself, KidLitCon 2012 happened this past Friday and Saturday here in New York City. Prone to fret, I am thrilled beyond all measure that it went off, as far as I can tell, with nary a hitch. Many, many, many helped to make that so and I thank them all profusely, but most of all I have to simply sit back in awe of superwoman hostess Betsy Bird. I truly don’t know how she does it all. Maybe, for those who know the television show Fringe, there are some Alt-Bets out there or perhaps Hermione lent her the time turner.
With the event being in New York City where so many publishers make their home we were thrilled that Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Little Brown, Penguin, and Holiday House hosted special KidLitCon previews on Friday. The informal feedback I’ve gotten was that these were all terrific! As this was my baby I am SO glad it seemed to have been a win-win for bloggers and publishers. Thanks a million to the publishers for doing this.
The Friday night dinner was at IchiUmi which had one of the biggest buffets I’ve ever seen. Standing at one end of it you could barely see the other! Little Brown hosted the dinner speaker, Grace Lin, who was wonderful. The Bank Street Bookstore had her new book on hand and many purchased it to be signed by Grace.
Early Saturday morning I stopped by my favorite local bagel place to pick up lunch for Betsy and me (figured we’d just need a bit of downtime by then), made a brief stop at Staples to get name labels, before dashing over to the loading dock entrance to the library where I shared an elevator with a bunch of caterers setting up for a wedding. Throughout the day we saw them setting up for what must have been a ginormous wedding judging by the couches lining the halls, the food we saw them preparing, and — as we left — the elegant young folk in black getting ready.
And then we were off! Betsy made her opening remarks in a beautiful auditorium with only one flaw — no internet connection so only those with particularly robust phones were able to tweet. And tweet they did! Check them out at #kidlitcon12 and #kidlitcon. Folks then headed off to the parallel sessions all of which, judging by the tweets, were fantastic. I can’t wait to see the blog posts about these. Thank you to all our presenters!
After lunch Betsy, Liz, reviewer Marjorie Ingall, Groundwood Book’s co-publisher Sheila Barry, author Maureen Johnson, and I participated in the session “How Nice is Too Nice? Critical Book Reviewing in the Age of Twitter” moderated by Jennifer Hubert Swan. The tweets, comments and questions during and after gave me the impression that we did good. Certainly we all had plenty to say. They even got me to blush when Betsy asked me if I could review a Philip Pullman book critically (the blush was when she or another panelist — can’t recall who because I was flustered — said he’d kissed me which he has, but just politely you know!). For the record, my answer about reviewing his books critically was no. I admire him too much, he is a friend; there is just no way I could. But I did talk about other situations when I have done critical reviews as did the other reviewers on the panel. We talked about audience (who we are writing for), author response (some very inappropriate), ARCs, and tons more. It was a lot of fun and I hope as informative for the audience as it was for us.
The day at the library ended with a delightful and unique keynote by Maureen Johnson who brought along Robin Wasserman for a very entertaining and interesting final session. Many then went on to a special Kidlit drink night, myself included. I enjoyed enormously having a chance to chat with so many I mainly know online.
It was a fantastic couple of days!