SO much happened at Book Expo (BEA) last week and this weekend. I'm breaking it up into four posts. Four! (Don't worry, they're each pretty short. Except maybe for this one.)
The School Library Journal Day of Dialog BEA preconference! I have said it before - possibly THE best single day of the year in children's literature. Smart, insightful authors - hell even the audience is better qualified than the presenters at most events... Oh my gosh we saw Cabaret this week and I must paraphrase the Emcee:
SLJ has a terrific set of recap posts and videos highlighting the Jackie Woodson keynote speech, the Garth Nix lunch speech, marvelous round table discussons on diversity and unreliable narrators. That unreliable narrator panel was particularly good - Emily Lockhart should teach I swear to god. So insightful and entertaining, with many wild arm movements guaranteed to keep students paying attention.
I did kind of an Inside the Author/Illustrators' Studio thing with Lois Ehlert, Chris Raschka, Peter Sis and Raina Telgemeier. I think I'm going to need to write blog posts about each of these people and the things that I thought while I read every book each of them has ever had a hand in creating. "Overprepare and then improvise" - that's my motto.
The AAP Children's Author Dinner happened after Day of Dialog, and it was a pure treat. Seven authors spoke to a roomful of librarians while we ate the chicken and drank the wine. Here are some highlights:
Adele Griffin talked about how reading Edie: American Girl, a biography of heiress and Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick at the tender age of ten changed her life. I'll bet it did! Changed my life too, and I didn't read it til maybe high school. Her new book The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is about a young beautiful artist who dies tragically - totally inspired by Edie. I can't wait to read it, but I also couldn't resist giving it to my young beautiful artist niece, so I'll have to get another copy when it comes out.
We met Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, the young authors of a pair of memoirs about growing up transgendered, Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen and Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition. Katie was a big reader when she was little - she said she loved reading about noble, courageous characters who did great deeds, and how she never felt she could be noble and courageous like them because she was different.
Pretty much summing up the whole thrust of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, don't you think? Anyway, both she and Arin have now written those books, and the whole room wiped away a couple of tears and got ready for the next speaker.
Who was BJ Novak, a name which meant nothing to me but whom I suspected, due to the symmetricality of his face, to be an actor. This doesn't always mean the book's gonna suck. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. So my niece Ali and I took it for a test run back at the hotel:
I can only imagine what the other guests thought was going on in our room.
We also heard from Phil and Erin Stead. They talked about drawing birds and were generally adorable and then Erin spoke of what she misses most about working in a bookstore: saying "yes" to people. "Do you have a book for a reluctant reader?" she asked, and then flashed a slide of Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty as she said "Yes." "Do you have a book about a fish?" "Do you have a book about a truck?" "Do you have two?" It became a very fun game to try to anticipate what book she was going to show in answer to each question, and the librarians all began answering "Yes!" out loud.
It IS what is sexy about librarians. Ask us just about anything - we will say YES. Although no, you cannot borrow the reference desk scissors to trim your bloody hangnail. Sorry.