On Tuesday I attended School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog “a free, day-long program where librarians, publishers, authors, and vendors meet to discuss issues that affect the book and library world for children and teens.” Running in the Javits alongside BEA it was absolutely splendid. My thanks to SLJ for doing this and congratulations to everyone involved in creating such a stimulating and worthwhile day. (A special shout-out to my Newbery 2008 bud Luann Toth, SLJ’s book review editor, as I know she did a lot of the hard work to put these incredible panels together.)
It began with breakfast and I saw many friends of the librarian, reviewer, and publishing sort. All day long editor-in-chief Brian Kenney and Luann did a fine job keeping everything on track — ringing an adorable little bell to signal beginnings and ends. (The only thing I’ve experienced that sort in this world is Mimi Kaden’s kitchen timer at the Harpercollins previews.)
The first panel was “Steampunkery” and since I love the genre it probably was my favorite of the day. Moderator Cory Doctorow was terrific, asking the sort of questions that got great answers back from the panelists. And wow, what a splendid collection they were — authors Scott Westerfeld and Cherie Priest, and librarian (and self-identified fangirl) Karen Grenke. Fortunately, rather than my trying to recap it all for you, SLJ filmed it and you can view it for yourself.
Could anyone top that? Well, the next panel, “Drawing the Line Between Picture Books and Graphic Novels” was pretty amazing too. Moderated by Roger Sutton, the panel consisted of David Wiesner (who is working on a graphic novel of his own — don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see it), Laura Vaccaro Seeger (who was fascinating, explaining how the die cuts in her work function in an intriguing animation sort way), George O’Connor (who is doing those cool Greek god books and is pretty god-like himself), Mark Siegel (who has to have a few clones to do all that he does — run FirstSecond and his own work and be a dad and…), and Wendy Lukehart (a really smart and informed DC librarian). Is there a line between picture books and graphic novels? Not according to this panel.
The luncheon speaker was Cornelia Funke. I’ve heard her before and she did not disappoint this time. She spoke about learning from child readers that the character in the Inkworld they most connected to wasn’t a child, but the adult Dustfinger. And so that gave her the confidence to create an adult protagonist for her new book Reckless. She spoke with such excitement about this new book world (set in the 19th century — wondered if it too would be steampunk although she didn’t say that) that she got me excited about it too. And then she read the first chapter getting me even MORE excited. So when they announced there would a drawing for 25 signed copies of ARCs I dropped my card in and was delighted to discovered at the end of the day that I’d won one! (Victoria Stapleton took this photo before I won— I was just holding the book because I wanted it. And then I got it — so thank you, Victoria, Zoe, and the others at LB. )
Interspersed throughout the day were sessions of publisher’s pitching new books. Short and informative pitches came from Sterling, Sourcebooks, Random House, Penguin, Macmillan, Little Brown, Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Candlewick, and Brilliance Audio. Nicely done, all of you!
The final panel of the day was “The Care and Feeding of Tweens.” Moderated by Vicky Smith, the panel consisted of Rebecca Stead, Tim Green, Gennifer Choldenko, Robie H. Harris, and Lisa von Drasek (superstar librarian at Bank Street College). Lots of wonderful talk about what are tweens, who created the title (marketers), and what means most — the kids themselves.
The day ended with cocktails, book signings, and lots of schmoozing. A truly excellent day — again my thanks and congratulations to all involved.