Reflections on BEA and SLJ’s Day of Dialog

BEA has come and gone here in NYC. It is a trade show not really for the likes of me — a teacher and blogger — but for those who sell the books we love so much. (BTW, those em dashes; yep, I overuse ’em.) Still, if not for my day job hanging out with fourth graders, I’d have been on this year’s floor in a shot. (I went a couple of times when it was on the weekend as seen in this photo of Jon Scieszka helping me with my loot.) Certainly I very much appreciated reading reports from those who did go and enjoyed enormously the social events I went to outside the convention center itself.  In particular it was wonderful meeting and chatting with booksellers and booklovers from all over the country as well as seeing in person some folks I mainly know online. (And my apologies for blanking on faces  — in one case I chatted with a major reviewer I’d met once before in person a few years back, but know fairly well online and then didn’t remember her when we met again an hour later. So embarrassing!)

The day before the trade show started SLJ held its annual Day of Dialog and kindly arranged for me to attend. Betsy Bird has just done a great write-up of the event and there is also a report from the SLJ staff here. I was particularly eager to hear Katherine Paterson as I knew she would be splendid. Years ago we met at the annual summer Children’s Literature New England conferences and we’ve seen each other occasionally since then.  She is a completely remarkable person and any time you have a chance to hear her speak — go, go, go.  This time she focused mostly on The Flint Heart, a book she and her husband John Paterson “freely abridged” from an older book by Eden Phillpotts.  Having read the Patersons’ version as well as the original I was very curious about this project and Katherine did a wonderful job explaining it.  I’ll have more to say about it in another post as it is very much up my alley for a number of reasons.

As for the rest of the day, Betsy does a superb recap. The panels were all terrific, the publisher pitch sessions highly informative, and post-pranial speaker Daniel Handler was hilarious.  (I did notice that, by referencing other speaking situations, he pretty much acknowledged being that mysterious writer Lemony Snicket.  The two other times I saw him speak he always said he was filling in for Mr. Snicket who, for one reason or another, was indisposed.) That said, I do admit I was especially looking forward to the final panel of the day as it featured debut writers,  among them Adam Gidwitz who had done such a great job at my school as a “fairy tale writer in residence.” He acquitted himself beautifully as did all the others.  A wonderful day indeed.

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