I’m not a librarian, but the Midwinter and Annual American Library Association meetings are two of the more exhilarating times of my year as they are just rich beyond measure when it comes to children and their books. This year’s Annual in Chicago was no exception and here are some highlights of my time there.
Attending the Peter Sieruta Memorial Event. Peter Seiruta was the shy blogger of the plainly named, but remarkable Collecting Children’s Books. If you didn’t follow it, I urge you to take a look through it as the posts are still amazing. He died unexpectedly and much too soon a little over a year ago of a blood clot. Among many other things, Peter was the co-author with Betsy Bird and Jules Danielson of the forthcoming book, Wild Things, from Candlewick for which the following card (just provided as a teaser not the final cover or anything) was given out. It was moving to hear Peter’s brother John speak so beautifully about him and others as well. Betsy has also written about the event here.
Breakfasting with Patrick Ness. I’ve been a longtime fan of this author, ever since reading The Knife of Never Letting Go five years ago. (My rave review is here.) My first Huffington Post entry (also crossposted here) was “It’s All About the Horror of War in Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay and Patrick Ness’s Monsters of Men” (I still wear my Monsters of Men t-shirt proudly) and as for A Monster Calls — do read this post in which two friends of mine who lost their mothers when young discuss the book with Patrick responding. They have long wanted a signed copy and I’m so glad they will finally get their wish. I’ve got an ARC of the forthcoming More Than This and can’t wait to read it (although I’m a little frightened as well as his books, in my experience, are emotionally wrenching). Patrick was fabulous in person (and I highly recommend following him on twitter as he is consistently hilarious in 140 characters).
Dressing for the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Banquet. My roomie Roxanne Feldman was on this year’s Newbery Committee and so had a great time dashing about from one celebratory meal to the next. Our friend Nina Lindsay was one of the organizers of the Caldecott Award’s 75th year commemoration. Among other things, they asked us to dress up for the banquet in some sort of Caldecott way and so I came up with an idea involving David Macaulay’s 1991 winner Black & White and Roxanne ran with it!
Of course this is NOT Jon Klassen’s hat.
Having a moment with Robert Byrd, illustrator of Africa is My Home. It was incredibly moving for me to listen to Bob talk about his research and the amazing decisions he made for the art. It is really glorious — you all wait and see. Here we are with the book’s fabulous editor, Sarah Ketchersid.
Visiting Candy Fleming and Eric Rohman. My first personal contact with Candy was in 2005 when she wrote to me, expressing enthusiasm for my advocacy for teaching with primary sources, especially via my book for teachers, Seeking History. Since then we’ve met up when we can, but not often enough so we were both very excited to have a chance to really talk. I came early and so we did— talk about some of my projects and about Candy’s (and I must say I don’t know how she does it all!) — before others arrived. And then Eric brought us to his studio and showed us glorious stuff — journals, and sketches, and book dummies, letters, and art, and art, and art. Just all sorts of marvelous material about his work.
There were plenty of other fantastic moments including:
- listening to Katherine Applegate, Jon Klassen, and Katherine Paterson speaking with such passion and intelligence at the Banquet;
- watching Laura Amy Schlitz skip to the dais to receive her Newbery Honor plaque;
- reconnecting with Sheila Turnage;
- gushing to Steve Sheinkin;
- admiring Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s green toenails;
- not winning Melissa Sweet’s contributions to the Chronicle 25th anniversary raffle;
- enjoying Brandon Mull’s Yoda;
- learning from Mo Willems that his forthcoming book was the most “fecal” one he had ever done;
- having excellent meals and conversations with some of the aformentioned as well as other terrific folks;
- parties of various sorts (including the one in the Hyatt lobby that featured the Stanley Cup);
- exploring the exhibits;
- getting a chance to meet people in person I had only known before online;
- seeing friends I don’t get to see except at ALA;
- and a whole lot more.
It was a very grand time indeed.