SLJ’s Day of Dialog

My goodness, does SLJ put on a fabulous one-day conference. Congrats to all, but especially Luann Toth who leads the planning and organization of this wonderful event. You can see the full schedule here.  I was sitting next to uber-blogger Betsy Bird who was doing a sort of live blogging thing — that is, she was writing her blog post live as the different panels and speakers were occurring. Count me as very impressed. I did tweet a bit, but not that much. A few brief reactions:

The first speaker was keynoter Brian Selznick who was his usual awesome self. He directed his remarks to librarians and both amused and moved us with his description of receiving, after the publication of The Houdini Box (I first got to know Brian when he came to our school for that book) an envelope full of child-made award stickers. In following up, he discovered he’d won a Lemmie Award (I believe that is the spelling), an award concocted by a librarian in Iowa. So his very first award. He followed up that first win with three more. He then touched upon his forthcoming The Marvels*, mentioning that it was inspired by Dennis Severs’ House, a place I too find one of the most magical in the world. (See my blog post about it here.)

Next came a panel on nature featuring Paul Fleischman, Wendell Minor, Louis Sachar, April Pulley Sayre, and Anita Silvey (in her iconic hat). It was ably moderated by Julie Roach. Some tweets from me:

Louis Sachar wanted to write scary B Movie a la The Blob. Having read Fuzzy Mud, I’d say he succeeded.

“Humans are just like 7th grade boys.” Paul Fleischman

Fuzzy Mud wasn’t written in sense of optimism yet Louis Sachar wanted to keep that feeling in there somehow.

“Child needs to know history is not old.” Wendell Minor.

“It’s a parable, people!” says Paul Fleischman re Matchbook Diary & others

Mudlarking and Fuzzy Mud….hmmm have Brian Selznick & Louis Sachar been talking?

Next was the Panel “Middle School Confidential: The Tough and Tender Trials of Today’s Young Teens” moderated beautifully by Stacy Dillon. The authors were Tim Federle, Lisa, Graff, Luke Reynolds, Rebecca Stead, and Rita Williams-Garcia.  Only a couple of tweets from me (I started losing steam, I’m afraid), but great things were said. It was moving, thought-provoking, and funny at times. My sad two tweets:

Luke Reynolds paraphrases Toni Morrison re wanting to make children’s eyes light up.

Yay, moderating Middle School Confidential

After a publisher pitch panel there was lunch and then an amazing speech by A. S. King. I was far too riveted to tweet, but it was on feminism and was outstanding. Maybe SLJ will publish it or provide a video of it at some point. Incredible.

The afternoon gave us a terrific panel, “Magical Thinking in the Real World” well moderated by Angela Carstensen. The authors were Moïra Fowley-Doyle, A.S. King, Patrick Ness, Daniel José Older, and Allan Stratton. It was also excellent.

A brief side note: I’ve been a longtime fan of Patrick Ness (first for his writing and now for his tweeting too)  and was invited to blurb his forthcoming The Rest of Us Just Live Here — yes, I liked it very much. Now I can’t recall just what I said to him, thought it was something about liking the books of his that I’ve read (as I’ve not read them all), and so the clever guy signed my book thus. (Patrick — I promise to try to read them all eventually!)

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After another round of publisher pitches there was the final panel ” Nonfiction Goes Graphic” with Don Brown, Claudia Dávila, Nathan, Hale, Maggie Thrash, and Maris Wicks moderated by the enthusiastic Jesse Karp. It was fascinating and I was also glad that at other points of the day I had a chance to speak with Don Brown and Nathan Hale as I’ve long been a big fan of their work. During the panel, I especially appreciated Don Brown’s strongly voiced opinions on the subjectivity of all history — that even a photo that may appear to be without opinion does have it just in the way it is present. Excellent. And Nathan, who also focuses on history (my great love too) had some fabulous things to say as well. The others were great too, just am not yet familiar with their work — which will change soon I hope!

The day concluded with the announcement of the Boston Glob Horn Book awards. I was especially pleased with the fiction winner, Katherine Rundell’s Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, a book I’d really liked and was a bit overlooked until now.

*I went that evening to a mesmerizing presentation of The Marvels. It was held in a gorgeous old theater and was spectacular. We all went home with ARCs of the book and a very cool additional thing in a velvet case. I’ve already read most of it and it is terrific. Thank you, Scholastic, for an awesome evening.

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