2010 Printz Awards

The final day of ALA Annual Conference — June 28, 2010 — was an exhausting frenzy of acquiring books!

I did go to some sessions:  One on Research and Statistics that I found interesting because of the practical use of math involved — but more applicable to academic librarians than it would be to me.

I also went to the ALSC  Poetry Blast, which was simply fun — hearing poets for children read and recite their own work.

I did catch several book signings.  One of the ones I was most excited about was M. T. Anderson.  I have been convinced he is brilliant ever since I read Feed, was further confirmed in that opinion when I heard his 2007 Printz Honor speech, and was absolutely convinced when I read Octavian Nothing.

I got to chat with him for a bit, and he had some insightful things to say about cuts to libraries.  I’m only a bigger fan now.  Here I am posing with him:

It was the last day of the exhibits, so prices on books got lower and lower until they were free.  I made three trips back to my car!  It was hot, so that was probably not smart — I was completely wiped out that night.  But it was a situation where I was simply incapable of resisting.

Here’s my son amazed at my loot the next day:

If I remember right, I came home from the four days with 124 books, 27 of which were signed by the author!  Very cool!  Here’s a closer look at the titles:

The day finished off with the Printz Awards.  I found a seat right behind Diana Peterfreund, author of Ascendant, and Ally Carter.  John Green’s in the row ahead of them:

The speeches were inspiring.  I love that at the Printz Awards, all the Honor recipients also have to give a speech.  They do a fine job!  We heard speeches by Adam Rapp, Deborah Heiligman, Rick Yancey, John Barnes, and finally the Award winner, Libba Bray.

Libba is full of overflowing exuberance!

A couple of good quotes from her speech:

“There is a place where amazing parallel universes do exist.  It’s called the Library.”

Laughter is defiance, but also acceptance.

“Every time you read a book, it’s a strike against ignorance… unless you’re reading Sarah Palin.”

(Sorry for those who don’t like that last quote.  I loved it, myself.)

During the reception afterward, I got to congratulate most of the winners.

Here I am with Libba Bray:

Here is an Honor winner, Rick Yancey:

And another Honor winner, John Barnes:

Finally, here I am with John Green:

After that, alas! my camera batteries completely died.  But I had great conversations with more authors whom I am  in awe of like Nancy Werlin, Rebecca Stead, Libba Bray, Laurie Halse Anderson, Linda Sue Park, Diana Peterfreund, Ally Carter, John Green, MT Anderson, and more whom I’m afraid I’m forgetting because I didn’t get their picture.

As I mentioned above, I’m convinced that MT Anderson is brilliant.  Several of us librarians were standing around him talking to him, and I think John Green got kind of jealous.  He’s used to being the center of crazy fans!  Though we were more than happy to talk to him, too.  Of course, the last time I went to the Printz Awards, in 2007, I heard both of them speak and was very impressed.

I went home from ALA completely exhausted.  What with three trips to the car loaded down with all the books I could carry in the blazing heat, and not managing to find a place to buy dinner — so only having cake — I woke up in the middle of the night and almost fainted.  I suspected dehydration, but maybe it was just overexcitement from a truly fabulous and memorable and inspiring weekend.

When I went to ALA, I had just spent my first week not working at the library, after being RIF’d.  So I was feeling very sad and discouraged — but ALA picked me right back up.  It confirmed that, in my heart, I AM a Librarian, no matter what job I currently hold.

I also felt, more than ever, that I’m part of a fantastic community of children’s librarians and writers and readers and bloggers.  They are my people, and it’s getting where I actually know a lot of them.  And that feels great!

Sunday Schmoozing

Well, I wanted to blog all about ALA — and now it’s been a couple of months.  However, I really do want to relive it and post all the pictures with authors I admire.

Sunday after the YA Author Coffee Klatch, I was in a mood for author signings!  I went to several and got signatures but not pictures, but did get a few pictures with authors whose books I’d already read and enjoyed:

Here I am with Jessica Day George:

Here’s the review I’d recently written of her latest book, Princess of Glass.  I was happy to get a signed copy!

Another author I met was Tom Angleberger, author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.

One session I did want to be sure to go to was to hear Will Shortz speak.  Yes, he’s a big famous puzzle guy now, but I remember doing his puzzles in Dell Magazines when I was a little girl.  (Sure enough!  When they talked about his bio, he worked for Dell Magazines in the 70s.)

I thoroughly enjoyed his talk.  He told some secrets about making puzzles, and ended off with a competition between the two sides of the room.  (My side won!  Woo-hoo!)  I had some signings I wanted to get to and didn’t want to wait in the long line after that, and he was signing crossword books, not logic puzzles or the types of puzzles I prefer, so I went back down to the exhibits.  But here he is signing books:

Back at the exhibits, I almost ran into Mo Willems and Jon Scieszka.  I couldn’t stay away from that!  I did some serious lurking and picture snapping.  I got to tell Jon Scieszka that I have more brothers than he does.  (Hey, you think of whatever you can say.)  And I told Mo Willems that I was wearing his Elephant and Piggie design t-shirt yesterday.  (Oh well.  He said he would have signed it.)  Oh, and I talked to Casey, Jon Scieszka’s daughter.  She was very nice, and I’m going to watch for her graphic novel coming out soon.

Here are the pictures I took while lurking:

Mo’s on the left, Jon’s on the right, and Casey’s wearing purple.

I always say that Jon has the smile and laugh of a mischievous little boy.  His daughter agrees that he never grew up.

I think they were discussing the Book Cart Drill Team Championships that afternoon, which they would host.  I saw them host it three years ago, and was very very sorry to miss it this time — but I was scheduled to go home and get the shawl I accidentally left at home, but while I was at it take a little nap and change clothes for the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet.

On the way back to the car, I stopped at a Bookmobile that had been set up with a project to record hundreds of people’s voices reading The Wizard of Oz.  It was a lot of fun — I’ve read the book aloud to both my boys and loved it as a child myself.

Imagine my delight, though, when the person who walked into the booth after me was Grace Lin, scheduled to receive her Newbery Honor Award that very night!  For the book Where the Mountain Meets the MoonI was so excited to meet her, the person reading ahead of me had to do a couple extra takes because I was too noisy.  But when the production is finished, I’m reading the page right before Grace Lin!

Here I am with her, thrilled to meet her:

And here she is reading her page from The Wizard of Oz:

So, like I said, I’m disappointed it’s taking me so long to post about ALA, but now I’m up to the highlight of the whole weekend.  My next post will be about the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet.

YA Author Coffee Klatch

I’m taking a long time to write about ALA because life is interfering.

I got RIF’d from my job as a Youth Services Librarian, but I was fortunate enough that the county found me a job as part of the RIF process.  I’m a Management Analyst for the Office for Children, Provider Services.  I’ll be managing data, but I will probably also get to talk to providers about Early Literacy and how the libraries can help them serve the children under their care.

I’m a little bit annoyed that my new job is at the same paygrade as the Librarian position.  It does not require a Master’s degree, like the Librarian position did.  It doesn’t supervise anyone.  It doesn’t deal with the public.  It’s much less stress and much better hours.  The catch, of course, is that I feel a tremendous calling as a children’s librarian — ALA confirmed that strongly.

It turns out that the county sets the pay grade based on what the surrounding counties pay the same position.  So it’s not that this county undervalues librarians — it’s that librarians are undervalued as a profession.  However, it is enough to get by on, as long as I’m still getting child support, and my Dad is helping me pay my student loans.  But the nice part of keeping paychecks coming is that I can pay rent.  Yay!

And in the meantime, I’ve been applying for corporate and school librarian positions, and now have an interview for a Youth Services Manager position in a neighboring county!  So we’ll see…  Maybe I can get back to being a children’s librarian.

And I love meeting authors!  That’s what the YA Author Coffee Klatch is all about.

I admit that Sunday morning, I had a lot of trouble getting out of bed.  I had very much wanted to go to the first hour of the session “Children’s and YA Book Blogs: Enhancing Library Services.”  But alas!  Trying to get there by 8:00 only meant that I was there on time for the 9:00 YA Author Coffee Klatch, which I’d bought a ticket for.

The worst thing was that they didn’t even bring coffee to the tables — you had to stand in line.  I wasn’t early enough to want to risk not meeting an author for the sake of coffee.

Basically, we had an extra seat at each table, and we had 6 authors spend 10 minutes with us.  It wasn’t time to really talk to them — they talked about their books.  But it was cool to meet them, and they talked me into reading some of their books.  Here are the authors I met that morning:

Carrie Jones was tremendously nice and did talk me into getting a signed copy of her book later.

James Kennedy was a lot of fun.  His book sounds quite bizarre — the perfect thing to give my son for his 16th birthday.  I decided then and there to be sure to go to the author’s book signing and purchase a copy.  I thoroughly enjoyed James Kennedy’s sense of humor, and am looking forward to reading the book myself.

Next, we met Simone Elkeles.  I later saw her book signing and bought a copy of her latest book.

Next was Holly Black.  I already had her latest book, White Cat, in one of the piles in my bedroom.  After she talked about the book, I planned to put it on the top of the pile.  Sure enough, since then I have read it, and it’s intriguing and fabulous.  Holly talked about how in that world, people can curse you by touching your skin with their hand.  So everyone wears gloves, and seeing bare hands feels far too intimate.  Fascinating!  My review is coming soon.

Here’s Richard Smith, pitching The Marbury Lens.  He made it sound fascinating, but a little on the scary side for me.

This is the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson, who just keeps winning awards.  She pitched Wintergirls, telling us some background behind it, and also the upcoming sequel to Chains.

Deborah Heiligman had one of the most interesting stories-behind-the-book to tell.  She was a religious studies major, and her husband had written an award-winning book about evolution.  Charles and Emma is the story of Charles Darwin’s marriage to a deeply religious woman, and how their partnership made both of them better people.  Deborah Heiligman convinced me to be sure to pick up a signed copy later.



Then came Carol Lynch Williams, pitching her new book, Glimpse.  I have heard good things about her earlier book, Chosen, and was convinced to give her books a try.

Finally, our table was visited by Kekla Magoon, another author whose book, The Rock and the River, I’ve heard great things about.  That’s the only problem with ALA:  My list of books I really want to read gets so much longer!

After the authors had visited tables, all the authors (there were lots more) posed for a group shot:

I was thrilled to meet some of them, like Rebecca Stead (!) in the milling around afterward.

All in all, it was a great time to meet people who have done it — they have gotten published!  And they are nice people, who enjoy talking about their work.  I wanted to read books by all of them!

First Full Day of ALA 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010, I woke up bright and early and excited to go to ALA.  I drove in — funny thing, but there’s no traffic early on a Saturday — and had no trouble and even made it to the 8:00 session! 

Saturday was a day of lots of great sessions of learning and inspiration.  First up, at 8:00, I went to a session called “Listen Up!  Using Audiobooks to Motivate Boys to Become Readers” featuring a panel that included the illustrious Ambassador Emeritus of Children’s Literature, the hilarious Jon Scieszka, He Who Laughs Like a Little Boy Getting into Trouble.

Jon and the rest of the panel talked about how audiobooks can help reluctant readers (particularly boys) see themselves as readers.   They talked about all the great things that happen when children listen to audiobooks.  Jon is adding a new part to his Guys Read website called Guys Listen.  It has some great resources.  If I become an elementary school librarian, or even if I go back to being a public librarian, I want to come back to this site and this information to convince parents and teachers how great audiobooks can be for kids. 

Oh, they also showed the hilarious clip which you’ll find on the Guys Listen site that promotes Jon’s new Guys Read collection of funny stories.  The clip is of the writers of the funny stories all telling parts of a joke.  I want that book!

After that session, I tried to get to the session called Move Over Dick and Jane: Reconsidering Books for Beginning Readers, about how beginning readers are changing.  However, in that room, there were no seats left, and I learned three years ago that it’s no fun to go to an ALA session and sit on the floor.

So instead, I went to hear Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Kidd Taylor talk about collaborating together on their book Traveling With Pomegranates.  It was wonderful!  I’ve recently been reading several meditative books by Sue Monk Kidd, so it was a thrill to meet her.

Some things she said that I liked:

Memoir is about backward understanding.

It’s always a reach for wholeness when you write memoir.

Memoir can create wholeness in the reader as well.  [That says it for me.  When I join an author on her journey seeking wholeness, it indeed helps me find it myself.]

To write memoir, you need an authentic willingness to be known, a unilateral disarming.

Aging is about the process of letting go of what is leaving anyway and letting something new grow.

After their talk, I got in line, and the publisher gave everyone a free copy of Traveling with Pomegranates, which both authors signed.  I was completely inspired and uplifted by the time I walked away.

Next on my schedule was the Margaret Edwards Award Luncheon, honoring Jim Murphy for his lifetime achievement in the field of literature for young people.  Jim Murphy writes amazingly immediate nonfiction for children.  There was a copy of one of his books on our chairs.  I got to sit next to blogger Liz Burns, and Fairfax County Librarian Shannon Seglin was nearby, sitting at the School Library Journal table.

After a yummy lunch, Jim Murphy spoke about his process of writing and getting at primary sources, and his innate curiosity that fuels his great books.  He had some nice stories of serendipitously discovering material that later became the meat of his classic books.

After lunch, I went to a session called, “Everyone’s a Critic: The Future of Book Reviewing.”  The panel included the founder of GoodReads, a New York Times Book Critic, and a blogger and librarian, moderated by a reviewer from Booklist.

The session was interesting and fun to listen to.  All the panelists agreed that there is room for everyone, that the different review sources have different purposes.  They did point out that one of the strong points of professional book reviewers is that they are excellent essayists.  Their reviews are good reading, whether you want to read the book or not.

Next, I rushed down to the exhibits and got two books signed by Diana Peterfreund.  I met her back in October at the Kidlitosphere Conference, a few days after I had written a review raving about Rampant.  One of the Advance Reader Copies I was the very most excited to get was her sequel, Ascendant.  It’s not out until October, and now I don’t have to wait!  I also bought my own personal copy of Rampant for her to sign since I liked it so much. Killer unicorns rule!

And right next to Diana, who should be signing but Sarah Blake, the author of the excellent book sitting on my bedside table at the time, about three-quarters done, The Postmistress.  While I was there, I got a signed copy.  Very cool!

After that, I went to “Science Fiction and Fantasy: Informing the Present by Imagining the Future.”  This wasn’t so much a panel discussion as it was five distinguished authors speaking on that topic.  They were good!

Here are some things I particularly liked that they said:

Dom Testa  (He’s on the far right behind a fan.)

The visionaries provoke us into thinking.  Their greatest contributions are their ideas.

Science Fiction can be the driving force behind good things, not just defense against bad things.

Jane Lindskold (on the far right at the table — the rest proceed across to the left.)

Give kids something a little different: Imagination is key in any endeavor.

Libraries are the best place for the combination of knowledge and imagination to happen.

Cory Doctorow

Science Fiction writers are always really writing about the present.

Writers also inspire the future.

Science Fiction allows people to vividly imagine the future consequences of their decisions today.

Science Fiction today is an inherently activist literature.

Cherie Priest

Science Fiction and Fantasy is talking about us right now — especially Steampunk.

“Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown.”

With Steampunk, you get to go back and change the rules that bound you.

In Steampunk, if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right.

It looks to the future by looking to the past.

Brandon Sanderson

Our culture has a fetish for the “real.”

SF and Fantasy write about real things “with dragons” or “in space.”

Fantasy writers are talking about NOW.

When people are more important than ideas, that brings people together and does great things for our world.


Alas!  The only thing I didn’t like about that session was that even though I got there before they started, I did not get one of the bags of books the publishers were passing out, to get signed after the talk.  They definitely got me wanting to read their work.  (Brandon Sanderson is the only one of them whose work I have read — and I did get a signed copy of his second Alcatraz book that morning.)

After so much inspiration, I finished the day off by going to the Opening General Session with Toni Morrison speaking.  Good stuff!

I didn’t stay for evening programs, because I was hoping to get plenty of sleep and get there bright and early the next morning for the bloggers’ session.  Unfortunately, I got to posting pictures on Facebook and was way too excited to sleep.  The next day was the pinnacle of the conference…

ALA Annual Conference 2010

It’s been more than a week since ALA finished, and I had a wonderful time.  Time to report!

I’d had four days at my new job as a Management Analyst for the Office for Children, Provider Services.  It’s a nice job, very peaceful, but it’s not a librarian position.

Going to ALA Annual Conference this year was a no-brainer, since I wouldn’t have to pay for travel (except parking) or a hotel.  And it ended up being a peak experience.  Three years ago, ALA Annual was in DC and I went and was inspired.  But that time, I didn’t see a soul I knew.  This time, every day I saw librarians I’d worked with, bloggers I’d met, and authors whose books I’d reviewed.  I felt like part of the great big wonderful Kidlit community, and it felt good.  I did realize that I am a Librarian by calling, not just by job.

The first night, the main thing going on was the opening of the Exhibits.  I happily filled my bag with free books.  And then I looked up and saw an author I admire, whose newest book was sitting on my bedside stand, a few chapters in:  John Green.

I didn’t come up with anything especially clever to say, but I managed to ask if I could get a picture with him and with his co-author (of that book on my bedside stand) David Levithan:

(David’s on the left, John’s on the right.)

I also went to see the Peachtree book and found my friend and Writing Sister Kristin Wolden Nitz’s new book Suspect prominently displayed.  It will be out in the Fall, and they were giving away Advance Reader Copies.

I finished up the night at the SCBWI sponsored KidLit Drink Night.  Right away, I met Karen Cushman!  Author of The Midwife’s Apprentice and Catherine, Called Birdy, among other great books.

I met lots more authors, some published and some unpublished (like me), and many whom I knew from the DC KidLit Book Club.  I was hoping to meet Betsy Bird of the Fuse #8 Blog, but unfortunately she was in the Emergency Room with a sprained ankle.  I did meet my friend Kristin’s agent and lots of other fascinating people. 

Then I lugged my books home on the Metro and resolved to drive for the rest of the conference.  It was a nice beginning!  Already I’d gotten lots of cool books, met wonderful people, and schmoozed with authors and bloggers and agents and librarians.  And that was in only a few hours.  There were three more long days to come!

In Memory of Madeleine L’Engle

I was saddened to read, a few moments ago, that Madeleine L’Engle has died, at the age of 88.

I’m not sad for her.  I’m sure she’s gone on to a glorious adventure in heaven.  I’m selfishly sad that there will be no more wonderful books coming from her pen.  And sad that I never got to meet her–someone who has affected my life deeply with her wonderful words.

Children’s Writers

I’ve decided that people who write for children and young adults are an extremely intelligent bunch.

I’m reading my new issue of The Horn Book Magazine, and this month it’s got many short essays by children’s writers on gender issues.  I’m struck afresh by how brilliant these people are.

There was an interview with Jon Scieszka.  The man is wonderfully funny, and his books are full of boyish pranks (no surprise to learn he’s from a family of all boys).  But how amazingly insightful he is as well.  Part of why I love reading Horn Book Magazine is that big issues are dealt with in a thought-provoking, powerful way.

Then I realize it’s not the first time I’ve heard wisdom from children’s writers.  Susan Patron’s Newbery Acceptance Speech.  David Wiesner’s Caldecott Acceptance Speech.  Okay, every single author I heard speak at ALA–and for the Printz Awards, even the Honor winners had to speak.  Then there’s John and Hank Green’s Brotherhood 2.0 site–full of tremendously clever, tremendously funny, nerdy humor.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people who can express profound truths through fiction also turn out to be deep thinkers.