You have to maximize your time when you're in New York. Even when you live there, you're grouping errands geographically in your head, trying to do at least two things at once, strategizing time and transit and factoring in how much crap you are hauling with you at any given time.
Which is how I found myself in the sale racks at Brooklyn Industries during the ten-minute gap before the shuttle came to ferry a group of us back to the Javits Center from a semi-informative tour of the Recorded Books studios. I had been wearing an ungodly unflattering sweater, so when they told us we had a few minutes, I ran across the street for an iced coffee and a discount blazer.
And a t-shirt for my son. What?! It was 30% off the sale price when you bought two items!
Backing up. I got to go to the Adult Book Breakfast on Thursday, emceed by the now terrifyingly thin Neil Patrick Harris, who has frailed himself down for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. OH I would like to see that show. Here he talks about his love for pop-up books and Choose Your Own Adventure. Which should probably remind us not to give up on kids like that - they may have other gifts.
The convention floor itself was a bit of a blur. Long lines for the likes of Maggie Stiefvater, Kate DiCamillo, and Rick Riordan. You couldn't get anywhere near Daniel Handler, not that you'd necessarily want to. I tried to do a little trendspotting but nothing really stuck out. Except the rise of the middle grade novel - oh yeah middle grade is charging onto the field like a bunch of 4th grade soccer players hopped up on sugar and adrenaline.
Also blue covers are a trend. Apparently blue is the new blue.
About these books - both of my boys have already ripped through Frank Einstein, and though they acknowledge that it is aimed at younger readers (say, 3rd-4th graders), they very much enjoyed it. Brenda Woods (The Blossoming of Violet Diamond) was on the Day of Dialog diversity panel, and she was very impressive. Pithy. Wise. Thoughtful. We trust industry stalwarts Jennifer Holm, Jarrett Krosoczka, Shannon Hale, and Cece Bell to deliver strong and peppy middle grade fare always, but there are also some wild cards that publishers are rolling the middle grade dice on this season too.
Also perfect for middle grade is Low Riders in Space (Book 1), which was my number-one get this year. I have been looking forward to it for months already - a graphic novel about three cuates (buddies) obsessed with ranflas (lowriders) who dream of opening their own garage. In a note, author Cathy Camper praises "the artistry, inventiveness, mechanical aptitude, resilience, and humor that are all part of low-rider culture." Well, she might as well have been writing about the book itself, because it's got all those things.
The high kid appeal Bic pen art by Raul the Third brings to mind MAD Magazine, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, and Jim Woodring. Rich, imaginative, funny, compositionally exciting. I can see I'm going to have to write a whole review of this. It's the rare item that will appeal to grownup art nerds like me and Cartoon Network-loving kids at the same time.
We took a break to attend the AAP Author Lunch. That's always kind of a neat event - they'll have 4 or 5 authors speak, and you really learn something about each. This year we learned that forensic anthropologist and best-selling novelist Kathy Reichs has the worst case of Resting Bitchface I've ever seen - so imagine what a nice surprise it was when she gave a smart, relaxed, sarcastic talk. She was the last to speak, and noted that several people had gotten up and walked out before she began. "Twenty-nine - I counted," she said. "And I'm having them all investigated."
Speaking of which - AAP, you guys throw this lunch in just about that same room every year. Every time someone goes in or out the doors make this terrible squeaking moan, which is very distracting when, for example, Cary Elwes is recounting tender stories about Andre the Giant. When are you going to learn to pack a can of WD-40 in your Javits Event Emergency Kit?
Back at the lines, more middle grade. We found Jack signing The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza and Jon signing the new Guys Read anthology, Guys Read: True Stories. But that might have been Friday. As I said, it was all kind of a blur!