My NCTE 2013

Wow.  It was amazing to be at NCTE as a children’s book author.  As I wrote in my previous post I’ve been a member of the organization and attending conventions (at one time there was a second spring conference as well) for many years, but always as an educator.  So this was a very special NCTE for me.

First of all, on Thursday, I visited my publisher, Candlewick Press. They are housed in a beautiful building and it was so kind for the executive director of school and library marketing, Sharon Hancock, to take the time to show me around.  It was wonderful to finally meet my book’s fantastic designer, Heather McGee, and terrific copyeditor, Hannah Mahoney.  A special thrill was reading to Candlewick staff in the kitchen, a tradition for authors who visit.  All in all, a wonderful experience.

The historical fiction session with M. T. Anderson, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Gene Yang chaired by Teri Lesesne was great and I hope that  there are opportunities for further explorations about the nuances of writing about the past for young people. In a future post, I plan to go into more detail about the session and what we discussed.

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I did a book signing and Candlewick had my book on display with one of those cool star bookmarks (for the one it got from SLJ)!

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After a family dinner with just Candlewick folk, including Gareth Hinds and Burleigh Muten I stayed up way past my bedtime at the Nerdy Book Club gathering. As my friends know I’m very much an early-to-bed-early-to-rise sort of gal and not much for crowds, but I ended up having a fantastic time at this event.  I mainly went to celebrate my book’s publication with Jenni Holm who had been there way back when I was just beginning to work on it and who was very supportive as I tried to figure out just how to tell the story.  So, thanks for that, Jenni, and the champagne! (And, thanks also to Louise Borden who took this photo.) But I also met many other friends and made new ones too. It was a great event so thanks, Nerdy Book Club for setting it up.

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Saturday morning I switched hats to my critic/educator one and attended the ALAN Breakfast as a guest of Random House. Jennifer Burhle’s tribute to Judy Blume was so moving as was Judy Blume’s acceptance of her award.  And then there was the one and only Walter Dean Myers who spoke passionately about economic diversity.

Arguably the best speaker I heard at the convention was Temple Grandin. Certainly she was the most unique, funny, blunt, and practical.  A few of my tweets:

  • “Too much emphasis on deficit, not enough on creativity.” Temple Grandin #NCTE13
  • “Need different kinds of minds.” Temple Grandin #ncte13
  • “Need to touch in order to learn.” Temple Grandin #ncte2013
  • Keeps saying they’ve got to put hands-on stuff back. Temple is awesome.#ncte13
  • She wants to do a show called “Undercover Legislature.” Fox, you listening? Temple Grandin #ncte13

Then I attended the Books for Children luncheon as an author. Among other things, that meant sitting at a table with my books and attendees and talking to them about my book. I also was thrilled to see my old friend Leda Shubert receive the Orbis Pictus Award for her book Monsieur Marceau.  Here’s her editor (another old friend of mine) Neal Porter with a book that is not hers.

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The keynote speaker was Steve Jenkins who was outstanding. I’ve always admired his books, but he is a terrific speaker too. I especially enjoyed his dry deadpan wit.  One example: “I must say I find the creatures much easier to work with when they are stuffed.”

That evening I met Jen and Lisa of the excellent blog, Reads for Keeps, for drinks and we stopped by the Stenhouse party so I could see the wonderful editors of my two books on teaching history,  Philippa Stanton and Bill Varner. It was a special treat to then run into some several other old friends as well. I then went off to a dinner as a Candlewick author which was very, very cool indeed. It was at the Forum restaurant which had been the site of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and that was moving too. My table mates and I had a splendid time talking books — pretty much exclusively adult ones for a change.  

All in all it was a glorious few days! Thank you, Candlewick for my beautiful book and for a wonderful conference.

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Filed under Africa is My Home, NCTE

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