Monday, July 14, 2008

Belated ALA wrap-up

Well, I'm back from my two-week hiatus. It would feel amiss if I didn't give a wrap-up of ALA, even though it now feels very very long ago. But here goes.

I arrived Friday June 27th at the Disneyland Paradise Pier hotel--it was completely Disneyfied, from the Goofy in the lobby... to the Mickey Mouse ears on the shampoo. The view from my window was of the Californian Adventure. Fun!
One of the first things I did upon arrival was to check in with Victoria, our amazing library marketing manager, to make sure that the art we mailed for Wabi Sabi and Sergio Makes a Splash was safe and intact. It was (whew!).

Then on to dinner with an exhausted Lisa Wheeler and daughter (they had travel trouble on the way). It was great to catch up. Lisa's Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum (illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith) is still one of my all-time faves--I still give it out as a gift, and it's wonderful to hear the kids repeat the text, and ultimately memorize the words.

Saturday morning Tony Abbott signed copies of The Postcard at the booth. It was great how many people had loved Firegirl and excited about his new novel.

Then it was on to our Fiction Lunch. I mentioned this in my wrap-up from last year's ALA--The format was similar to that of our library previews, where we invite various special librarian guests, but instead of editors rotating tables, we have three authors rotate. Tony Abbott started us off by reading from The Postcard, then we ate our very beautiful salad.
Then the authors rotated table and Wendy Mass stood up to read from Every Soul a Star (coming this Fall). Then we ate our lovely entree. And finally, the authors rotated a third time and Paul Feig (of Freaks and Geeks fame) read from his upcoming novel Ignatious McFarland: Frequenaut!
Saturday afternoon I touched base with Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci to go over next Spring's YA short story collection Geektastic--we put all of the stories and interstitial comics in order, which was fun but challenging. I've never worked on a short story collection before, and putting the stories in order is a bit like making a mix tape.

Saturday evening we had a relaxing family dinner (meaning just Little, Brown employees and authors/illustrators, no special librarian guests), and then had a fun night at Disneyland. I hadn't originally planned on going to Disneyland--as a teen living in Southern California, I went to Disneyland way too much and in fact had a fairly negative impression of it--the lines! But I went with my group, and had a great time. Because we went at night, the lines weren't too long. And although I tried the new Indiana Jones ride that hadn't been open when I was a kid, I still thought that Space Mountain was the best ride. Of course, it had been a while, so I had forgotten where they take a picture of us and thus the result was perhaps one of the most unflattering pictures of me ever taken. But it's also funny, and so I'm posting it here. This is a picture of the picture, so I apologize for the quality.
On Sunday we had our Picture Book Lunch, which was pretty much the same as the Fiction Lunch, but with illustrators instead of authors. One of the best parts of this event is the original art that we are able to display. Here we have Ed Young's art for Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein:
Michael Emberley's art for Mail Harry to the Moon by Robie Harris:
And Edel Rodriguez's art for Sergio Makes a Splash:
Here is Ed Young giving a very touching talk about the illustration process for Wabi Sabi. We had final copies of the book air shipped from the printer in China, and I must say, the books are so beautiful, they make me want to cry. This book has truly been a labor of love for everyone involved. I'll be talking more about this book closer to its publication date.
Edel and I had to rush out of the lunch to head back to the conference center for his book signing. He drew a funny little penguin on each and every book, and afterwards showed me how to do it. Here's one of my efforts. Not bad, eh?
Sunday night was the Newbery/Caldecott banquet. I attended for the first time last year and loved it. I love the festive feeling in the air, the beautiful dresses, the anticipation of the speeches, the great company, and the food (well, the entree was disappointing this year, but the salad and the dessert was lovely). We sat fairly far away from the speakers, so I don't have any good pictures, but here is Brian Selznick accepting the Caldecott from committee chair Karen Breen. He wore a sparkly shirt that he apparently had studded himself. Crazy fun!
His speech was amazing. It included a fantastic video of illustrations in the style of The Invention of Hugo Cabret depicting how he got the news of the award. And his speech was touching (he choked up a few times) and funny. Many of us wondered how Laura Amy Schlitz would be able to follow it. Well, we needn't have worried. Here is Laura accepting the Newbery from chairperson Nina Lindsay (who, incidentally, I had sat next to at last year's banquet) for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!.
Laura didn't stand at the podium for her speech. Instead, she stood on the edge of the stage and just talked to us. Well, more than talked, she performed. She used no notes, and didn't stumble once. She immediately captivated the audience, and we stayed with her during the whole speech. Unbelievable.

The next day, I had breakfast with a West Coast agent I had never met in person--we dined at my hotel's buffet, which perhaps wasn't the best idea, as we kept being interrupted by characters such as Lilo and Stitch and Pluto, but it was fun. I didn't take any pictures, though. Too bad!

Wendy Mass had been invited to be the key note speaker at the American Association of School Librarians awards luncheon. She had been nervous about her speech all weekend, but it was perfect. Funny and heartfelt. She even had a prop--she had laminated all of her rejection letters from publishers and she asked for volunteers to unroll them down the room. None from me!
And that, pretty much, was that. It was a busy, whirlwind conference. One highlight, I must say, was having several people, upon seeing my name tag, introduce themselves to me as readers of this blog! So, hello--you know who you are!

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