I’m sitting in my suite (almost as big as my NYC apartment) at the Inn at Essex enjoying a little quiet time before heading over for breakfast, visiting, and then off to listen to the sure-to-be-profound words of wisdom from the brilliant M. T. Anderson.
The Opening Page is a new yet familiar Children’s Literature New England institute. For twenty years, ending in 2006, these summer institutes were like no other. At the urging of some child_lit friends I began attending in 1999, was a speaker in 2005, a discussion leader 2006, and a fan for life. This one is new because it is at a different time of year, shorter, in a very different venue (previously these were always in educational institutes), less intensive (no huge reading list or formal discussion groups), and smaller. It is familiar in structure (packed with wonderful speakers), singing, and most of all — faces.
I accompanied Rita Auerbach on the drive from NYC to Essex. While her car’s GPS was very unhappy with our route and kept trying to make us do a U-turn and take her way we stuck to Rita’s husband’s route and arrived as the wine and cheese reception began. Before long directors Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire welcomed us with prose and song and so we began.
After dinner we heard the one and only Katherine Paterson. I stupidly did not take notes, but it was (as always) a magnificent and profound talk. I was sitting next to Brian Selznick who did sensibly pull out a notebook and jot down a few notes for himself. I do remember that she began by reading the first few pages of Alan Bennett’s charming The Uncommon Reader, a book she had recommended for the reading list.