I'm back from ALA, and have finally managed to tame my inbox, and now I'm ready to share a bit more detail about my trip to the American Library Association conference in Anaheim.
I drove down to Anaheim on Friday, and had a convivial dinner Friday night with Sondra LaBrie from Kane/Miller and Betsy Bird from A Fuse #8 Production. Sondra has the details, and Betsy has promised to share the photo that she took of the three of us at some point. Betsy is also video blogging the whole conference, so do go check that out. The service was, as Sondra noted, ridiculously quick, and we had to fight hard to keep the bus person from taking away our chips so that we could continue talking. But we were up to the challenge.
Saturday morning I visited the exhibit hall, where I scooped up so many books in the first hour that I had to make an unplanned trip back to my car to drop off books. Mary Pearson was signing at Henry Holt, and I picked up a couple of extra copies of The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Then I met up with Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy for the Edwards Award luncheon, where we heard Orson Scott Card's acceptance speech. I don't agree with Card's views on gay rights (which did not come up in any public way at the ceremony), but I did like what he said about children and books (here I am paraphrasing from my notes):
- No amount of bad writing will keep a kid away from a great story.
- No amount of good writing will make a kid interested in a book.
- You can't make a kid like a book (or even pretend to like a book).
- There's no such thing as children's literature.
I'm not so sure about #4, but I do agree with the first three. Card also lamented the way that we as a society have been conditioned to be ashamed of the books that we like, thinking that if we enjoy a book it must be "trash." But mostly he talked about the importance of story, and how kids won't slog through a bad story, and how children allow stories to change their lives. He suggested that everyone should write novels as if they were writing for impatient children. (This importance of story was echoed in both the Newbery and Caldecott Award speeches, too, the next day.)
After the luncheon I attended the LAYAPALOOZA, a fun event hosted by the LAYAs (a group of Los Angeles-based young adult authors). Their MySpace page explains that they "concoct gameshows which are performed live at various gatherings of the literary industrial complex, which is rarely showered with the same amounts of money as certain other "industrial complexes." They are really fun. And brave enough to sing in front of a group of people, and pull people up from the audience to play quiz show games.
I was on a team with Neal Shusterman, who I had seen speak at NCTE last fall, and so I got a picture with him. Those are noisemakers from our game. I won a signed copy of Cecil Castellucci's Beige for playing. And I got a way cool bracelet, too. But it would have been worth it even without the prizes.
After that I headed over to the Grand Californian, where I had lemonade and a nice chat with Mary Pearson, before the kidlit blogger event hosted by Feiwel and Friends at the same hotel. They had a beautiful suite, and they gave us food and drink and left us on a balcony with a table and a view of one of the Disney parks. It was lovely.
I got to hang out with Maureen from Confessions of a Bibliovore, Susan from Wizards Wireless, Tasha from Kids Lit, Laura from Oops ... Wrong Cookie, Wendie Old, Gregory K. from Gotta Book, Jay Asher from the Disco Mermaids (his conference post here), Betsy from Fuse, and another woman who is just starting to blog. Plus the people from Feiwel and Friends, who were gracious and interesting.
Our event ended up overlapping with another event that followed, and I was able to finally meet Monica Edinger in person (though I didn't get a photo). I also got to chat briefly with Laurie Halse Anderson (she ducked in the picture - she is way taller than me, but very gracious about it).
Here are Betsy's shoes, my shoes, and Laurie's shoes. Can you guess which is which? We were charmed by the contrast. You can't really tell, but the red ones are heels, and the one on the left is funky high-tops.
And finally (for that party), this is Laura and me with Barack. He does love a party. We left with nice gift bags from Feiwel and Friends, and several of us went to dinner at a local pizza place (where the service was somewhat lacking, but the food was good). We were joined there by Jim Averbeck, who I hadn't met before, and another blogger that I sadly didn't get to talk to. It was nice just being able to sit in one place and chat for a while. Thanks to Susan for organizing!!
Sunday I started the day by attending the YALSA Coffee Klatch, a chance to meet some of the Best Books for Young Adult authors. They had us sit at tables, and the authors moved from table to table, spending about five minutes each. I sat with Gina from PBS Parents, and it was great to meet her in person. The authors who came to our table included Terry Trueman, Dana Reinhardt, Eleanor Ramrath Garner, Stephanie Hemphill, A. M. Jenkins, David Levithan, Jay Asher, and Meghan Sayres, and Adrian Fogelin. There wasn't really enough time to talk with them, but it was still fun to get a face to face snapshot. The photo above is a group shot of all of the participating authors.
After the breakfast I did manage to snag a quick meeting with Susan Beth Pfeffer. I'm constantly raving about Life As We Knew It and the dead & the gone, and I love Sue's blog, so it was a treat to finally meet her in person. She had a very impressive manicure, too. You can see Sue's entertaining post about the conference here.
After that Gina and I walked the exhibit hall for a while, attended the Random House Fall Preview, and then sat outside and chatted about children's book blog ideas for the PBS Parents website (I'm sure to be talking about that more down the road). Then Gina had to go, and I went back to the exhibit hall, and by random luck, managed to stumble across various books and signings.
This is me with Dana Reinhardt and Wendy Lamb, at Dana's signing. How cool is that? That Sunday afternoon walk around the exhibits was also when I managed to snag a copy of the much-coveted Inkdeath, largely by being in the right place at the right time.
It was a treat attending the event with Susan - we talked and talked, and people-watched, and were moved by both Brian Selznick and Laura Amy Schlitz's acceptance speeches. I was too enthralled to take notes, but they both gave fabulous, if very different, speeches. Brian did this slide show in the style of The Invention of Hugo Cabret about winning the Caldecott Award, and it was amazing. He wore a snazzy sparkly shirt that I really wish I had photographed (I think Susan will have a picture to put up of that). Laura stood up there without a podium, as though she was talking to a bunch of kids, and told us stories, from the heart. As Susan pointed out, each speech was in the style of the book that won, and you could not help but be happy for everyone involved.
And that's it. Monday I drove home, exhausted, and in pain from lugging around so many books. I did manage to get my suitcase into the trunk, but it was a very near thing.
These are finished titles, mostly signed, mostly purchased from the publishers, except for a couple from Feiwel and Friends and Kane/Miller, and a copy of Ender's Game that they gave us at the Edwards Award lunch.
Mheir looked at these piles and asked if this would provide me with at least a week of reading material. But I think it's more like six months worth, if I don't read anything else (which, of course, I will, so this is probably a year's worth of reading material). But I doubt I'll be at a conference like this, with my own car to fill up with books, any time soon. And so I justify my gluttony.
And that's it. If anyone has read this far ... I'm impressed. Hope to see you at the Kidlitosphere conference in September.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.