All I really have to say is: Vivian (HipWriterMama) was right. Seeing Rick Riordan speak is an inspiration. I was fortunate to be able to attend Rick's event yesterday at Hicklebee's Children's Books in San Jose. And OK, I do have a bit more to say. It was 100 degrees out, and didn't seem that much cooler inside the store, which was completely packed (see photo below). But it was completely and totally worth it to see so many kids so excited to hear from an author.
God bless the people at Hicklebee's. The event extremely well-organized, despite the heat and the crowds. They gave out numbers as you arrived, so that people didn't have to stand in line. Being compulsively early by nature, and not having to wait for any kids to get out of school, I was fifth. (To the young woman who was first, if you're reading this, I hope it was worth the trip, and I look forward to seeing your books on the bestseller list one day in the future). So I got to meet Rick, and get a photo taken, and have a couple of copies of the new book signed. He knew who I was right away, which was very cool. Of course my Hunters of Artemis shirt was a bit of a clue. But still, it was great to finally meet Rick in person, after interviewing him last year and all, although the crowd was too big for much of a chat.
[My Hunters of Artemis shirt was a source of considerable admiration among the kids, and the adults, in the audience. If you ever want to meet people, wear something related to the Percy Jackson books while in a crowd of children's book lovers. That's my advice.]
He spoke for a half hour or so. And because the Hicklebee's team cares passionately about kids, the kids were all on the floor in front, where they could see, with the adults standing in the back and around the sides of the store. Rick read from the new book (and man, can he ever channel Percy - you can tell he's spent lots of time with middle school boys in his life). He also spoke a bit about the background of the book, and then he mostly just took questions. I can't even express how great it was to see all of those kids, eager and excited and asking great questions (like, could a God and a demi-god ever have a child together? Answer: well, that would be interesting, wouldn't it, but the demi-gods don't usually live that long). As Vivian noted, there was much rejoicing about the prospect of the movie version of The Lightning Thief (scheduled for release in fall of 2009, and being directed by Chris Columbus). The kids were also very excited to learn that there will be another series after the Percy Jackson books wrap up, featuring the same world, but different, younger characters. Rick also talked a bit about his upcoming 39 Clues books, and the kids were pretty keen on that, too.
Honestly, you had the feeling that if his schedule permitted (and if it hadn't been so crazily hot), Rick would have stood there in front of the room until every kid had every question answered. He clearly loves seeing kids excited about books. And he doesn't talk down to them, or let the attention go to his head in any way. For me, it was a validating experience, to see how much of an impact one person with a passion can have on kids and reading. Of course he had a lot of help, especially from his family and his publisher. But still, one person sat down and wrote these books - and kids all across the country and around the world are enthralled, engaged, and READING. That, my friends, is how you make a difference in the world. I'm so glad that I went to the event!
Making the afternoon even better - I was able to hang out with Becky Levine and her son. Becky and I had a great chat, and it was wonderful to finally meet her in person, after exchanging blog comments for ages. Her son wasn't much of a conversationalist, because, you know, he had the book in his hands, but it was fun to see him completely tune out the crowd, in favor of the real reason we were all there - the wonderful Percy Jackson books. Becky's thoughts on the event are here.
Mheir came, too. He was a bit late, and wasn't able to meet Rick (because he - Mheir - had to go back to work), but he was able to hear the talk, and see the buzz. And now we have two copies of The Battle of the Labyrinth to read. So, if you don't hear from me for a bit, you'll know that I'm reading.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.