Monday, July 19, 2010

A Belated Return to ALA '10

This is a belated wrap-up of ALA--I had posted very briefly about it here, and the other BRGs have also posted about it as well (including Grace's wonderful multi-part series), but here's my overview of the conference.

I took an early early train Saturday morning to D.C. to arrive in time for my booth duty at noon. Booth duty is when one is assigned to be at the booth to help answer questions and introduce our books to librarians and others perusing our books. We also have author and illustrator signings throughout the conference, and we're needed to do various tasks, including selling books, writing names on Post-its for people who want their books personalized, opening the books to the right page for the authors, and so on. Caldecott Medal winner for Lion and the Mouse Jerry Pinkney was in great demand--in fact, he signed every day of the conference!
One of my favorite things about booth duty is that you never know who's going to stop by to say hi. Authors Katie Davis and Barry Lyga stopped by (separately):

and Katie interviewed me for this little video. Cool, huh?

We also help arrange and display advance reading copies for people to take away, like this almost-gone swirl of The Candymakers by Wendy Mass, and this still-tall tower of Sean Beaudoin's You Killed Wesley Payne.

Author Cornelia Funke also had a signing of her upcoming book Reckless right as I was leaving.
Then I was off to meet Grace for a tea in honor of Ambassador of Children's Literature Katherine Patterson. I didn't actually get to meet her, unfortunately, but she gave a few words of thanks, and it was an honor just to be in her presence.
Saturday night was a free night, and Grace and I had planned a dinner with the Blue Rose Girls and a few friends. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone took a picture of the whole table! But here is Grace and Elaine at the restaurant Busboys & Poets:
(Grace is pointing to the word "poets" to refer to Elaine)

I ordered shrimp and grits! Yummmmmm.
Then it was back at the hotel, where Libby, Grace, and I helped each other decide what we would wear at the banquet the next night. (Well, Grace had decided by then, but Libby and I had several options to choose from.)

Sunday morning started with a signing for Grace at the booth. But first, we played around in the booth:

After Grace's signing (she signed Ling & Ting and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon), we were off to the restaurant for our lunch with the Newbery Committee. Before the lunch we had fun with the wall decorations:
It was a thank-you lunch, and it was wonderful to meet the committee and be able to thank them all in person for their selection of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon as one of the Newbery Honor books. Our publisher gave me a lovely introduction, and I turned around and introduced Grace, and then Grace said a few words that made us all smile...and then cry.

And then it was the big night! The Newbery-Caldecott Banquet. We all got dressed up, enjoyed a few snacks and cocktails in a private room, and then headed off to our table:
Here's a video of Grace accepting her award!

As so many people commented to her later, they loved how joyful she was. She was almost dancing onto the stage!

Here's Grace and Alex with her Honor:
After the dinner, we were whisked away to the receiving line where people lined up to congratulate and say hi to all of the winners and honorees.
(I have no clue what I'm saying here! I must have been delirious.)

Then, Grace gave a little interview on the red carpet where she told the story of her dress:
(She made me do an interview first, which I hope never ends up shown anywhere, because I was so exhausted by that point, I had no clue what I was saying!)

Then the fairytale night was over. I made it to bed by 1:30 am, and needed to wake up bright and early for a 7:00 breakfast the next morning.

We had a breakfast in honor of the upcoming picture book Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier. We had several pieces of the absolutely breathtaking original art on display:
Laban and Bryan both spoke for a few minutes, and then sat with attendees to talk about how the book had come together. Here's Laban holding court:
Then it was off to the convention center for a signing.
Right after Laban and Bryan's signing was Chris Barton's signing of Shark vs. Train. I donned a Shark hat (yes, I'm biased--but of course I'm Team Shark. Remember our trailer?)
Here's Connie with a few new fans:
Chris and I had lunch after his two signings (he signed his Sibert Honor winning book The Day-Glo Brothers at the Charlesbridge booth immediately following our signing), and then I escaped back to my hotel for a quick power nap before the Printz Awards that evening.

Unlike at the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet, at the Printz Ceremony, the honorees all give speeches as well. This was my first time attending this ceremony, and I soaked it all in (and also live-tweeted the event). Of course, the grand finale was the Gold Medal winner herself, the amazing Libba Bray, author of Going Bovine (who, as you may know, I have the honor of working with on a new series launching in 2012, The Diviners):
Libba was funny ("I'd like to thank the makers of Spanx"), personal, touching, and inspiring ("There is a place where the most amazing parallel universes exist. It's called the library."). Awesome.

After the awards, we mingled and enjoyed cocktails and dessert. Here, Libba is greeted by two Newbery Award winners. First, Linda Sue Park:
And then Libba and Rebecca Stead share a laugh:
Because I was feeling energized from my power nap, I decided to stay for the impromptu after-party at a hotel bar for more drinks and snacks:
The last event of the conference was the Coretta Scott King Book Award Breakfast. Again, I was up bright and early after a late night--but it was worth it. It was a joyful, festive atmosphere complete with singing. And you know how I love to sing! For a great wrap-up of the breakfast, check out honoree for Mare's War, Tanita Davis's blog here.

Charles R. Smith won the Illustrator award for his photographs in My People. It was the first time the award has been given for photographs:

Here's author award winner Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal) in her cowboy hat:

And with that, ALA was over. It was busy, exhilarating, fun, exhausting, and overall, just wonderful. Of all of the conferences I attend, I have to say that ALA is my favorite. What can I say, I love librarians! Even though they make terrible pets.*
*art from Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.


PragmaticMom said...

What a fun trip! Lucky you to meet so many authors!

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World
I blog on children's lit, education and parenting.

Wendie O said...

Aren't those 7 am breakfasts exhausting? Luckily I only had one of those. I'm amazed you had the energy for two.
Tami's Tea for Katherine was amazing!
Loved your booth.

Robin Mellom said...

Wow! Epic wrap-up!!! Such an amazing night for you and Grace, I'm sure. :-)

And you look flipping smashing in that maroon dress!