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My standards are pretty low when it comes to conferences. Essentially if ursine consumption does not occur, I consider the day a success. Fortunately there are other ways of defining success, and though I was the organizer and therefore not wholly without my own prejudices, everything went well. Amazingly, surprisingly, some might say shockingly, well.
In truth, my personal insanity began on Friday. Monica Edinger of Educating Alice went above and beyond the call of duty by pretty much single-handedly organizing a preconference wherein interested attendees could go to the publisher previews we New Yorkers are normally privy to. Under her sure hand Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Harper Collins, Little, Brown, Macmillan, and Holiday House all conducted previews for the lucky attendees. That left the dinner that night. Traditionally (and this is only the 6th conference so traditions are sort of flexible on this point) there is a big dinner for the attendees. Normally, when the conference is held at a hotel, this dinner is a standard hotel dinner after the con has occurred. This time around we decided to make it a Friday dinner in the swank Japanese buffet restaurant IchiUmi. Then Little, Brown and Co. gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Would I like a special guest? Someone like Grace Lin, one of the very few award winning authors out there who actually blogs? Um. . . . yes, please? The kicker is that she and her family came up for the SOLE REASON of speaking at our dinner. Not only that, Little, Brown sponsored everyone’s dessert. Them’s class. All I had to do was make sure there was an AV set-up.
Fun Fact: If you want to have an event with an AV set-up ALWAYS choose a location that has a private room that doubles as a karaoke spot. Seriously, it’s the way to go. The staff will know how to connect the laptop and make the microphones work. The more you know.
Ms. Lin arrived with husband, world’s most adorable baby, agent, editor, and marketing guru in tow. How good was she? Darling, I had STAFF members of the restaurant coming up to me afterwards desperate to buy her book Starry River of the Sky (which Bank Street Bookstore was kind enough to offer for sale). The manager of the restaurant herself informed me that she wanted the name of that book and author and that if I ever wanted to do another event there they’d be happy to help me out. So we made friends. We also had a good room of folks who enjoyed the company and the food, which consisted of more edibles than I’ve ever been privy to in my entire life. Buffets RULE!
That was Friday. It was, all told, the pregame before the finals that would be the conference itself.
Now when you are organizing an event that will ultimately allow some 175 people to enter your doors, tough decisions need to be made. Actually only one really tough decision is up to you: Do you feed them? And when you have made your conference free the answer is a resounding “Nope”. I wasn’t going to feed anyone. Not even cheap bagels. Not even tiny bottles of cold, clear water. So would they hate me for it? We’d see . . .
The doors opened to everyone at 10 but I was in the building by 7:30 a.m. to get everything set-up on time. Volunteers who should be praised nigh unto the high hills were present and accounted for. Programs were available (anyone who wants a PDF of the program may contact me and I’ll pass it along). Swag was spread out, notebooks stacked, pens available. Here were the awesome Chronicle bags they sent along:
Gorgeous. And Mark Steensland was seven kinds of clever when he offered free notebooks that also happened to have his middle grade novel Behind the Bookcase on their covers.
We also set up an area for promotion:
And another area for people to trade galleys they’d received. This cart was full, then looked like this, then was empty 3 seconds later. I put out a second galley cart for the folks just to make them happy. I mean, they loved these books!
Finally, every single computer in the six rooms that would be hosting the conference was set-up and prepped. That’s right, folks. I had to make sure the AV would work without a hitch in SIX friggin’ library rooms.
Small downside to being a mammoth marble structure – you are a mammoth marble structure. Say what you will about the main branch of NYPL, it is impressive. Massive and impressive. And sad to say, sometimes incredibly difficult to navigate. I had managed to get rooms on three different floors, one on the opposite side of the library in a hard-to-get-to location. That means much of my time was spent herding attendees from one area to another. Sure, they had maps in their programs, but trust me when I say that when you are standing on the second floor of a building that threatens to overwhelm you with its grandeur, teensy tiny maps don’t quite cut it.
One final problem: Here we had a blogger conference but the very auditorium, which would remain our base of operations, hadn’t any cell phone reception! As Rocco Staino tweeted so eloquently, “I will be tweeting from #KidLitCon today that is If the walls of @NYPL will let me. The building is grand but also a #Bombshelter.” Fortunately, it did have Wi-Fi and folks would definitely use it. You can tell when you go online and see all the comments under our hashtag #kidlitcon12.
At any rate, I am pleased to report that at 10:30 on the nose everything began. Our 175 attendees looked more like 150 which, let us face it, ain’t no small potatoes. I had spent the better part of the previous day arranging everyone’s schedules and printing them out for them. I was therefore eager to set them on my way. So I gave an opening speech that delved a tiny bit on our history and scope. Truth be told, they weren’t there to see me so I cut myself short, explained to them how the day was going to go, and then shooed them off to their various locations.
From 11:00-11:45 there were four parallel sessions:
#1 – In the Children’s Center on the friggin’ other end of the library (two full city blocks away) was Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds) presenting the talk Who’s In Charge? The description of the event described it as a presentation that, “will help anyone who is using social media for professional reasons to take charge and manage it in an effective way. Participants will learn to create a strategic plan by answering the questions what, where, when, and how, and learn about technology tools that can reduce the amount of time and effort needed for social media management.”
Sheila was in a room that had to do battle with the sounds of the Children’s Center across the wall, which she did admirably and very well. She had no mic but commanded her audience. Folks were quite pleased with the results.
#2 – In the South Court Classrooms A & B (which are easy to get to since they were directly above the auditorium) was the very Goddess of YA herself, Teri S. Lesesne. Her talk was Don’t be a Twitt! Building a PLN Using Social Networks. Said her description, “Twitter and FaceBook and Pinterest and other social networks can be the place to begin developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). How do we begin? What are the steps in bringing disparate people and sites into a cohesive whole? These and other questions will be tackled during the session.” I sat in on Teri for a little while because I was beginning to get a bit tired and she was well and in her element. I wish I’d seen more.
#3 – The lucky people presenting in the South Court Auditorium didn’t even have to move after the opening words. Sheela Chari, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Michelle Schusterman (From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors) had an ambitious program called Community-Building On and Off the Blog: Secrets, Tips, and Cautionary Tales. Essentially the three shared their success stories and cautionary tales for building and sustaining communities, based on what has worked on their blog for the past two years, including book, Skype and other giveaways, special interviews and industry spotlights, news bars, twitter chats, and real-life meet-ups. It was the Skype element that was a killer since they attempted to use it in the aforementioned bomb shelter that is the auditorium and were duly thwarted. Fortunately they were well prepared for this eventuality and sallied on, undeterred.
#4 – Finally, the scariest room of all. Room 207. Not scary for the presenters so much (though it might have been a bit daunting to find) but scary for me. This was a room straight out of a James Bond villain’s lair. I had to make the AV work and it was hugely intimidating. Therefore I would like to give copious thanks to Marcia Lerner. While I left her in that room earlier that morning, she managed to single-handedly figure out how to make all the screens and computers work using my half-assed scribbled notes. By the time Janna Morishima, Dorothy O’Brien and Alex Simmons came in to present their panel discussion Reviewing Comics and Graphic Novels for Kids (which was a HUGE hit) everything was humming along like a dream. The three experts covered all the big GN questions like, “Can they be reviewed by the same criteria as traditional novels or collections? How should a reviewer treat ongoing storylines? How important are the visual elements, and how can one fairly compare graphic vs. traditional versions of the same book?” According to my spies in the field, it was an unqualified success.
Then, from 12:00 – 12:45 you guessed it. More simultaneous panels!
#1 – The aforementioned saving-Betsy’s-butt speaker Marcia Lerner of The Diamond in the Window and her talk Inspiring Reader Response. In essence it was a presentation that aimed to give bloggers tools to strengthen conversation with their readers. One of our more popular sessions, I had to work double time to get everyone to Ms. Lerner’s room on time.
#2 – Meanwhile, back down in the South Court Auditorium we had Kelly Jensen & Nova Ren Suma (STACKED / Distraction 99) and their talk Getting Series-ous: How Blog Series Can Engage, Inspire, and Grow Your Audience. I was keen on this one since the description said that it was about developing a successful blog series and hopes to inspire others to explore series posts as a means of widening their own blog content. Said they, “The experiences of an author and a blogger will provide insight from two different sides of the kidlit blogosphere while also showcasing how authors and bloggers can work with and benefit one another through a blog series.” A smart pairing.
#3 – In Classrooms A & B Jess Ferro (Alice in Baker Street) proved to have one of the few programs I had to turn people away from, so popular it was. In Oh, You Mean the Caterpillar Guy?: Viewing Illustration as High Art and Using Visual Literacy Methods to Enhance Our Evaluation of It, Jess discussed “ways in which we can help view illustration in children’s books as high art.” Such a good idea for a talk.
#4 – Finally, in the Children’s Center where he’d have room to speak at length, Greg Pincus (GottaBook) was one of the few bloggers I reached out to and actually asked to speak at KidLitCon. He was my ringer. I’ve seen Greg do his talks before and he’s always worth watching. I was particularly taken with his discussion topic, Avoiding the Echo Chamber: Bringing the World of Children’s Literature to the World. As he said in the talk’s description, “All of us in the blogosphere (and in the business of children’s books, whether as author or illustrator or as publisher or reviewer) can work to spread the joy of children’s literature wider.” Great feedback on this talk.
At lunchtime, which happened from 1-2, I discovered that the ‘wichcraft sandwich area of the library had chocolate cupcakes. I have NEVER seen a ‘wichcraft with chocolate cupcakes before. Needless to say, that was lunch.
When everyone reconvened at 2:15 I had planned that we make everyone attend the obligatory talk How Nice is Too Nice?: Critical Book Reviewing in the Age of Twitter. It was held in the South Court Auditorium and most glorious of all, I didn’t have to moderate it. I spoke on it, but I didn’t moderate. That honor fell to pro-moderator Jennifer Hubert-Swan (Reading Rants and another ringer) who perfectly bounced the conversation between author Maureen Johnson, myself, Liz Burns (A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy), Monica Edinger (Educating Alice), Sheila Barry (from Groundwood Books), and Marjorie Ingall (Tablet Magazine, amongst other cool things).
The conversation was hopping but I’ll rely on the attendees to say precisely why (I heard tappity tapping during our talk so someone somewhere was typing it up). Suffice to say, there were some really good points made about who reviews are for, inappropriate times authors (or their families) would contact a blog reviewer, our role, the state of blog reviewing today, and how awesome bookshelves of doom is (shout outs were made to The Book Smugglers, Pink Me, and a couple other blogs unafraid to critique fairly). It was a huge amount of fun. I wish I sat in on panels more often. We could have gone on for hours.
Then the last sessions began from 3:30 – 4:15:
#1 Also in the South Court Auditorium we had Karen Halpenny, VP of Women in Children’s Media, with what turned out to be the most highly attended session in the conference, if you don’t count the ones where there wasn’t any competition. Her topic was The Changing Relationship Between Reader and Writer and to help her with this topic she brought in the authors Gayle Forman, Michael Northrop, Alyssa Sheinmel, and Adele Griffin. It was just a really good second part to the panel discussion that had come before.
#2 – Meanwhile in Room 207 presenter and author/illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg (Mermaids on Parade) handled our up-and-coming author/illustrators with THUMBS UP! PLUMP UP YOUR PLATFORM and MAXIMIZE YOUR MARKETING. The gist was to help folks, “Become your own best publicity director (even if you already have one).” It’s always good to cater to the author/illustrators that show up for KidLitCon and have something for them too.
#3 – Finally, in Room 219 presenter Diane Estrella (That’s What I’m Here For…) packed the room with her hugely attended The Benefits of Blogging. With this description it was perfect for many of our newbie attendees: “Whether you are a long time blogger or thinking about dipping your toe into the blogosphere for the first time, this presentation will provide advice for ways to get started along with how to grow the site you already have.”
Finally, the day ended with our Keynote Speech. I know that in a lot of conferences you begin with the Keynote but it seemed to me necessary to reward the folks who had stayed the whole day. Plus, you can kind of guarantee folks staying that way. The speech was to be delivered by the illustrious YA author Maureen Johnson. Deciding on her was a no-brainer. I’d seen her give a talk at a Book Expo blogger con a few years ago (a con that maddeningly kept referring to itself as “the first” book blogger convention, consarn it). She was witty, urbane, and it was clear as crystal that she’d fit the bill. So I hired her and Penguin, her publisher, went above and beyond the call of duty sending every attendee a paperback edition of The Name of the Star. Wow!
I stole that photo from Maureen’s Twitter feed. This one too. She tweeted that these were her notes for her program:
You understand now why I tapped her to be my speaker, yes?
Before she went on, Maureen pulled me aside. She had a crazy notion. What if her keynote was less podium talky talk and more of a conversation? Say, with fellow YA author Robin Wasserman whom she had called half an hour ago and was on her way? Suits me. Part of the reason I like KidLitCon so much is that we’re an infinitely flexible group. You want to do a conversation with a kind of devil’s advocate of a friend on a stage? Dude, go for it. So it was that Ms. Wasserman and Ms. Johnson took some seats and discussed not just blogging and reviewing but the publishing industry itself. There was a lot of backing and forthing with the audience as well. Sadly, I had to keep her time limited, and even then I gave her an extra 15 minutes when I saw how well it was going.
Due to the fact that when the library closes it CLOSES, we had our final remarks, I told everyone where to find KidLit Drink Night afterwards (one of my favorite locations for the event, The Houndstooth) and that was that!
Once I have gathered my thoughts and my brain cells into one spot, I will update the Kidlitosphere Central page to reflect all the attendees and their blogs (I’ve already started). If you blogged about the day send me the link and I’ll add it to the page.
Big thanks to everyone who attended, everyone who helped, and just everyone in general.
I know that some of you have been holding off on registering for KidLitCon 2012, the annual meeting of children’s and YA bloggers which is open to anyone (blogger or not) with an interest in the changing sphere of book discussions, online and off. Though the Saturday conference (held on September 29th in the main branch of New York Public Library) is indeed free free free, perhaps you were waiting to hear what programs would be available at that time.
Well the wait is over!
For those of you who have signed up for the precon, information on the schedule for that day is waiting on the number of people who will be signing up. Once we have a rough approximation in hand we will email you your directions for the day.
The real conference, however, will be held on Saturday. On that day you will be privy to a wide range of experienced speakers covering topics pertaining to the field of children’s and YA literature. That morning you will enter the library when it opens at 10:00 and proceed to the South Court Auditorium. Volunteers will be posted at both entrances of the library to direct you to the auditorium. There we will have our registration tables set up.
Once the opening remarks have been made attendees will be able to sit in one of several sessions throughout the day. So that we are able to meet everyone’s needs we ask that once you have registered you fill out this form, indicating your preferences one to four, with your top choice being #1. We will work to make sure that everyone attends as many preferred sessions as possible. We ask that you be aware that due to space issues some rooms will be able to accommodate more attendees than others.
The schedule for the day is as follows:
10:00 – Registration (outside South Court Auditorium)
10:30 – Opening Remarks (South Court Auditorium)
11:00-11:45 Parallel Sessions #1 (four choices!)
Location: Children’s Center
Presenter: Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds)
Title: Who’s In Charge?
Description: Having a social media presence has become an essential fact of life for many in the Kidlit space. Authors, bloggers, and publishers use social media for marketing, engaging with fans, and communicating with peers. Librarians use it to keep up with industry information & book news, and to communicate with patrons. But managing a professional social media presence can quickly become an overwhelming time suck, leading to burnout. This presentation will help anyone who is using social media for professional reasons to take charge and manage it in an effective way. Participants will learn to create a strategic plan by answering the questions what, where, when, and how, and learn about technology tools that can reduce the amount of time and effort needed for social media management.
Location:Classrooms A & B
Presenter:Teri S. Lesesne (The Goddess of YA)
Title: Don’t be a Twitt! Building a PLN Using Social Networks
Description: Twitter and FaceBook and Pinterest and other social networks can be the place to begin developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). How do we begin? What are the steps in bringing disparate people and sites into a cohesive whole? These and other questions will be tackled during the session.
Location: South Court Auditorium
Presenters: Sheela Chari, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Michelle Schusterman (From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors)
Title: Community-Building On and Off the Blog: Secrets, Tips, and Cautionary Tales
Description: In cyberspace, as in real life, community is everything. Members from the popular middle grade blog, From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors, will share their success stories and cautionary tales for building and sustaining communities, based on what has worked on their blog for the past two years, including book, Skype and other giveaways, special interviews and industry spotlights, news bars, twitter chats, and real-life meet-ups. They will also discuss strategies to grow your community, with an eye to diversity, and create the right environment for sharing information, spreading ideas, and forging friendships beyond the blog. Audience participants should prepare for a lively discussion, a few rounds of KidLit Jeopardy (there will be prizes!), and most of all, to have some fun!
Location: Room 207
Presenter(s): Daniela Bone / TBA
Title: Reviewing Comics and Graphic Novels for Kids
Description: Graphic novels and comics have become established forms of kidlit. No longer the “guilty pleasures” among books, they are now considered valuable in education, literacy, and fostering a love of reading. This panel will help reviewers approach the variety of comics collections and graphic novels published each year (including graphic novel versions of existing titles) by addressing questions such as: Can they be reviewed by the same criteria as traditional novels or collections? How should a reviewer treat ongoing storylines? How important are the visual elements, and how can one fairly compare graphic vs. traditional versions of the same book?
Location: Children’s Center
Presenter: Marcia Lerner (The Diamond in the Window)
Title: Inspiring Reader Response
Description: A presentation that aims to give bloggers tools to strengthen conversation with their readers. One of the great things about blogging is that it facilitates immediate response. The rewards of blogging come from a wide variety of readers—librarians, teachers, and parents—who offer their wisdom and expertise on a regular basis. Yet one of the frustrating things about blogging is that sometimes readers don’t respond, and it can end up feeling like you’re writing into a void. The most common recommendations for getting readers to comment are to use giveaways or to end posts with a question. In this talk Ms. Lerner discusses how to create emotional connections with posts and platforms that explicitly value readers’ input. Attendees of this program will be encouraged to offer their own responses beforehand on what has and has not worked for their sites.
Location: South Court Auditorium
Presenters: Kelly Jensen & Nova Ren Suma (STACKED / Distraction 99)
Title: Getting Series-ous: How Blog Series Can Engage, Inspire, and Grow Your Audience
Description: This program will discuss what goes into developing a successful blog series and hopes to inspire others to explore series posts as a means of widening their own blog content. The experiences of an author and a blogger will provide insight from two different sides of the kidlit blogosphere while also showcasing how authors and bloggers can work with and benefit one another through a blog series.
Location: Classrooms A & B
Presenter: Jess Ferro (Alice in Baker Street)
Title: Oh, You Mean the Caterpillar Guy?: Viewing Illustration as High Art and Using Visual Literacy Methods to Enhance Our Evaluation of It
Description: A presentation that discusses ways in which we can help view illustration in children’s books as high art, especially in reference to the work being done by institutions like the Eric Carle Museum and its curator Nick Clark. By thinking of illustration as “real art”, we can use methods from the visual literacy ideas of education, specifically the Whole Book Approach and Visual Thinking Strategies, to better evaluate and talk about picture books as bloggers and lovers of children’s books. Possible video appearances from illustration-based bloggers will briefly discuss how they approach the evaluation of illustration and their insights into the art of the picture book.
Location: Room 207
Presenter: Greg Pincus (GottaBook)
Title: Avoiding the Echo Chamber: Bringing the World of Children’s Literature to the World
Description: Children’s literature bloggers find each other online… and speak to each other online. We meet offline, too. Nothing wrong with that. However, our connected world can become an echo chamber. All of us in the blogosphere (and in the business of children’s books, whether as author or illustrator or as publisher or reviewer) can work to spread the joy of children’s literature wider. Or put another way… if there are 100 million people on Twitter, we don’t need to talk to the 5,000 who already will buy books. We need to reach the parents, aunts, and uncles. And we can do this with a bit of social media know-how… and with a strategic vision that makes it more likely.
1:00 – 2:00 – Attendees will break for lunch (not provided)
2:15 – 3:00 – Plenary Session on Critical Reviewing and “Niceness” (South Court Auditorium) (Speakers TBA)
Location: South Court Auditorium
Presenter: Karen Halpenny, VP of Women in Children’s Media
Title: The Changing Relationship Between Reader and Writer
Description: A discussion about the changing role of the reader and writer in the age of social media. This talk will examine the lives of authors in a world where their audience are capable of having a much more direct connection to them…and vice versa. Topics will include feedback (quicker and sometimes much harsher), ways in which public vs private life is more difficult to determine, and new marketing paradigms based on author personalities. This talk will cover social media tools including (but not limited to) YouTube videos, Facebook, Twitter, live appearances, etc. A panel will consist of about three authors (TBA), a marketing person and a moderator with a primary focus on tween/YA books.
Presenter: Melanie Hope Greenberg (Mermaid on Parade)
Title: THUMBS UP! PLUMP UP YOUR PLATFORM and MAXIMIZE YOUR MARKETING
Description: This workshop addresses the necessity of creatives to fine tune their marketing skills on all fronts: analog, digital and social networking. Become your own best publicity director (even if you already have one). Learn the points of access to reach out and let the world know about your published book. Online marketing will be covered with a special focus on Social Network Etiquette.
Location: Room 219
Presenter: Diane Estrella (That’s What I’m Here For…)
Title: The Benefits of Blogging
Description: Whether you are a long time blogger or thinking about dipping your toe into the blogosphere for the first time, this presentation will provide advice for ways to get started along with how to grow the site you already have.
4:30 – 5:15 Plenary Session: Keynote Speech (South Court Auditorium) delivered by the illustrious YA author Maureen Johnson! Ms. Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include SUITE SCARLETT, SCARLETT FEVER, GIRL AT SEA, 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES, and THE KEY TO THE GOLDEN FIREBIRD. She lives in New York City, but travels to the UK regularly to soak up the drizzle and watch English TV. And as luck would have it, she will be in town to speak to us at the end of the con.
5:15 – Closing Remarks (South Court Auditorium)
5:30 – Kidlit Drink Night! Location TBA.
Please note that some locations may change before the day of the conference itself.
So what are you waiting for? The time to register is nigh! And for those of you interested in the preconference and dinner the night before, more information on that will be coming soon.
In the same vein as last year’s con we are expanding the conference into two days with a special “pre-conference” on Friday. Friday events will include special visits to the publishers of New York City with blogger previews of their upcoming seasons. Publishers will be assigned on a random basis to all attendees. The final list of publishers is currently being hammered out.
Registration will max out at 175 attendees.
Before September 21st:
$35 Pre-Conference without dinner
$100 Saturday Conference
$55 Pre-Conference with dinner
$50 Friday dinner (extra diner or only)
Please note that there will be no Saturday dinner. However, we are working on a Kidlit Drink Night here in town for that very evening. Information to come.
The last day to register is September 21st.
The Pre-con: Includes a dinner.
Conference Day: Lunch.
If space is still available, onsite registration will be possible for $80. Pre-con price remains the same.
Attendees looking to share hotels with other attendees may indicate this fact on the registration page. We will attempt to link you with someone who may also wish to share a room. You may find a list of Midtown Manhattan Hotels here.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is located between 40th and 42nd Street, directly facing 5th Avenue. A map and directions to the library can be found here.
If you’ve been to holiday Kid Lit Drink Nights in the past, you know about the wonderful donation program that our illustrious predecessors put into place. We’ll be collecting children’s books to donate to local charities, so please, if you can, bring a new or gently used children’s book to our gathering and help to make a child’s holiday season a little brighter and a little booky-er.
We’re so looking forward to seeing you all and to celebrating a fantastic year. As always, please pass this message along to any interested friends or colleagues. The more the merrier, especially at this time of year!
Or shall we say, Kidlit Drink Night 2.0? Because, you see, the event is now in brand new hands. There’s a new sheriff in town, folks. And by “sheriff” I mean “multiple talented individuals” and by “in town” I mean “running Kidlit Drink Night”. Yes sir, Cheryl Klein and I are backing away slowly then running hell-for-leather to the high hills leaving others to plan, organize, and generally inhabit Kidlit Drink Night. That doesn’t mean we won’t be around, of course! Just that we won’t be organizing.
Now here are the deets:
When: Tuesday, September 20 Starting: 6:30 p.m. Where: Sweet & Vicious, at the corner of Spring & Elizabeth Streets in Soho
And who has the chutzpah to make these nights even better than they were before? Observe:
Faye Bi works at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Christina McTighe is the School and Library Marketing Assistant for Penguin Young Readers Group.
Mackenzie Reide is the author of The Adventurers of Troll Creek, a new adventure series for 8 to 12 year olds.
Heather Scott is the Assistant Merchandising Director for Scholastic Book Clubs (and she credits Kidlit Drink Night with helping her make the connections that led to the job!)
A big thank you to them for going the extra mile and taking the reins from our hands. And how great that we’re returning to Sweet & Vicious once again. Oh outdoor patio, I’ve missed you so.
Remember that Kidlit Drink Nights are for anyone interested in children’s literature who would like to discuss it in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. RSVPs not required. And who knows? Maybe a certain baby will appear at a certain bar one of these days. Patios make it all okay, right?
Maybe half a year ago I mentioned that Ms. Lucy Knisley had created a cartoon poster for the first four Harry Potter books. Now with the final Potter movie coming out, the posters are at long last complete. They follow the plots of the books, not the films, but the look of the characters can be amusingly cinematic at times. And for the record, if I were a tattoo-minded dame, I would adore getting this image of Luna Lovegood and her pop.
But that’s not really my top news story of the day. How could it be? No the top news story is that it is once again time for the Summer Blog Blast Tour. Twice a year a cadre of bloggers for child and teen books gather together to interview some of the luminaries in the field. Chasing Ray has the round-up, so seek ‘em out and read ‘em up. I know I will.
When I lived in London for a time (it was like a little Intro to New York) I would periodically buy the newest issue of Time Out London and find interesting places to visit. One day the mag highlighted a toy museum. It was called The Museum of Childhood and it was fascinating. I was too intimidated to take any pictures, though, so I sort of forgot that I even went. Years have passed and I see that author/illustrator David Lucas has also been to that same museum and he has written about it in the post What do TOYS Think of Us? Stick around for the moment when he starts talking about panpsychism. Looking at all those ragamuffin bits of much loved cloth and felt reminds me of my library’s own original Winnie-the-Pooh. He is, after all, of the British persuasion.
Yay, Sunday Brunch! Over at Collecting Children’s Books my partner in writing crime (we’re doing a Candlewick book with Jules from 7-Imp) has a delightful post that is well worth your time. My favorite parts include the childhood of a future Brat Packer, a reason why Erin E. Moulton’s Flutter is unique, and a vote for “The Year’s Creepiest YA Novel.” Hooked yet?
Marci, this is for you. Remember how we were trying to figure out how one would go about creating Quidditch croquet? Well . . .
All right! Cheryl and I have done the math, figured out the logic, carried the two, all that jazz. The end result is that we have FINALLY come up with a reasonable Kidlit Drink Night time and location in conjunction with BEA this year. But there’s a catch . . .
This time around we will be instituting a $5 cover charge this Kidlit Drink Night to benefit the organization Reading is Fundamental. Recently you may have heard that on March 2nd President Obama signed a bill that eliminated funding for RIF. RIF is the nation’s largest organization “providing free books and literacy resources to prepare and motivate children to read” and this devastating cut means that they need our support. So be sure to bring out a fiver to support our RIF friends before they become our RIP friends.
Oh. And there is one other little matter. Due to the fact that I am scheduled to be giving birth in mid-June this may be my (drumroll please) LAST Kidlit Drink Night in quite some time. Have no fear, Cheryl and I are lining up potential replacements. But to make this a good one, I’m going to need to see you there.
What: BEA Kidlit Drink Night When: Thursday, May 26, 6-whenever p.m. Where:Stitch Bar & Lounge, in the balcony
247 W. 37th St.between 7th & 8th How Much: $5 cover charge to benefit RIF: http://www.rif.org
The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. Of where the heck Victoria Stapleton go her shoes and ships and sealing wax, of castles and of kings. And when the next Kidlit Drink Night will be held (and whether pigs have wings). For now we’ll limit ourselves to just the Kidlit Drink Night question, and lucky us, we’re going to continue the tradition of holding one at the beginning of the Midwinter SCBWI meeting in New York City. Alas, my partner in crime (and the woman who seriously does ALL the legwork and planning for these events) Cheryl Klein will not be in attendance this year. Please inform Kindling Words that they need to stop hosting their events at the same times as the NYC SCBWI event. Or maybe it’s the other way around . . .
Always assuming you folks are interested, here are the details as they stand. And, as per usual, you are ALL welcome to attend!
Where:The Wheeltapper Pub, 141 East 44th Street (near Lexington Avenue). Specifically, the backroom.
When: Friday, January 28th, 9 p.m.-ish
Who: You. And your friends. And your friends’ friends. Really, we’d just love to have you. The more the merrier (just so long as you don’t mind talking children’s literature). We can all grouse together about the ALA Media Awards too, y’know. And if you like you can touch the baby bump for good luck. It’s a well-established fact that blogger baby bumps of Birds are by far the luckiest in the biz. True story.
Ah. Tis that bonny time of the year when like-minded people (or, in some cases, like-occupationed people) gather together in pubs to sip alcoholic drinks and discuss the state of children’s literature today. Yes, it’s Kidlit Drink Night yet again, and this month Cheryl and I are hanging our hat on an old standby that many of us love. Get ready for a beer list that’ll put to shame any other place you’ve been in town. We’re going to The Ginger Man!
What: Kidlit Drink Night – A monthly gathering of children’s literary enthusiasts where any and all are welcome.
Where:The Ginger Man, 11 East 36th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison. We’ll either be in the back or in the front. Just look for folks with glasses.
Next weekend, the circus is coming to town! By which, of course, I mean the ALA annual conference.
I'll be hanging out at the YALSA booth from 12-1, so stop by and say hi!
But! Even more exciting! Later that afternoon, I'm going to head over the DC library for a book launch and bhangra party with Mitali Perkins. Let her know if you want to come, too. I'm going to go and then meet up for drinks at Capital City Brewing with other kidlit bloggers! MotherReader is organizing this jaunt, so check out her blog for details!
I don't like noise or crowds, and I'm basically a shy person. So when I arrived at the Landmark Tavern for my first Kidlit Drink Night, I was dismayed to see crowds of people jammed into a tiny strip in front of the bar. But, knowing that most of those people were kidlit people, and thus good folks, I took a deep breath and plunged in. I'm glad that I stayed, because I had a great time and met so many interesting people that I can't possibly remember them all.
Sisters Grimm author Michael Buckley was there, and I told him how much we enjoyed the new book and how thrilled my son and I were that the Empire State Building had been lit up in purple the previous day. (If you've read the latest Sisters Grimm book, you'll understand the significance of that). Harry Potter editor Cheryl Klein introduced herself to me, "Hi, I'm Cheryl Klein, an editor at Arthur A. Levine Books..." which seemed very modest considering that I knew who she was as soon as she said her name.
Other fabulous people I talked to, in no particular order, included:
Carrie Jones, author of Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, who was the sweetest and nicest person. I'm sad that I'll probably never read her book, because high school books just aren't my thing. (I had enough of high school the first time around and have no desire to relive it). But I hope her book makes the challenge list so it'll get lots of attention and teens will read it to find out what they're being prevented from reading. I'm just kidding, of course, but I do hope her book gets lots of attention, because she deserves it.
I know there are many people that I'm forgetting, so if you talked to me and I left you out, please leave a comment!
I was trying to figure out how exactly to write up my recent visit to Book Expo '07 (motto: Grow uncomfortably close to your fellow man in a humongous space). Should I recap all the pretty pretty books I brought home? I could but then you wouldn't hear about all the cool books I wanted but passed up because I already had access to them. So instead I'll talk today about what it's like to visit a Book Expo Convention... thing. This was my first one, y'know.
First off, what's the difference between Book Expo and an ALA Conference? Sounds like a riddle of the raven/writing desk variety, doesn't it? But that was the question that popped into my head as I neared the ludicrously out-of-the-way Jacob Javits Convention Center located in beautiful Lower West Manhattan. I've done ALA twice, which is enough to make me think myself an old hand. Plus I'd attended Comic Con at this same center not a month before. To my mind I was just going to waltz in there, locate books, and waltz out.
Flaw to My Plan #1: Waltzing in is not possible. You must dodge, before you even enter, numerous people handing out flyers and ads for products you do not want before you're 50 feet from the door. Some of these people are on Segways, which makes them look like some kind of advanced legless robot. Or deeply uncool. One of the two.
After you dodge the people screaming, "Free books on the Web!" you are inside the convention center. Now the last time I was there it was full of comic book geeks and people dressed up in costumes. That didn't change much on this round. I saw a Jack Sparrow and a Borat within the first two minutes I was inside. Another thing that hadn't changed? The temperature. Jacob Javits was acting like the lovely little greenhouse it was. I saw unfortunate Information Desk volunteers literally falling to sleep as gentle sunbeams lulled them into a sense of false complacency. Fortunately, I was prepared. In the past the Javits has apparently been cold, but not knowing this I packed light. Score thus far - Javits: 0, Fuse #8: 1.
I lost my hometown advantage in attempting to find the Registration Desk, however. To my mind, Javits somehow managed to grown an extra floor or two since I'd last visited. I spent most of the day running up and down stairs and escalators, never quite figuring out what belonged where. Still, once I had my handy dandy map and plastic nameholder thingy, I was good to go.
I've heard a fellow librarian say that they don't much care for Book Expo because the publishers are so clearly trying to woo booksellers rather than librarians. I never really had a sense of that. Bloomsbury, FSG, and Clarion were all super sweet to me, making it very difficult to limit my book intake. When you walk into a convention saying, "I will only take a couple of books" you are deluding yourself. Even if you have stacks and stacks and stacks of the puppies piled on your desk at home *cough* it's hard to say no to the nice editor carrying the shiny middle reader about time travel.
I'd like to offer an apology to Clarion, by the way. You see, at one point in my travels I happened to stumble upon the Little, Brown & Co. booth as they filled their table with cookies (shown here:).
Well, I'm not made of stone. I doggone ate those delicious cookies I did. Oh, Little Brown. Why do you increase my calorie intake so?
After eating a delicious cookie, however, I was thirsty. And this being New York (America's answer to Europe) and not Portland, Oregon, there was not a drinking fountain to be seen. So what did I do? I asked Clarion if I could have one of their water bottles. The water bottles clearly meant, I later realized, for the poor starving/thirst-ridden editors unable to leave the boiling hot convention center all day. I felt bad. However, the water was very good and no one in the booth even blinked when I asked. Still. Bad form on my part.
Thing I Am Most Proud Of: I found the Roaring Brook Press booth early on and managed to get some delightful First Second ARCs, making up for my failure in Seattle earlier this year.
In my travels I discovered a lower level where even more booths were located. The convention organizers had cleverly sequestered all book signings to this floor, and it was there that I was able to find Kids Can Press, Scholastic, and Kane/Miller. My sole regret was that I couldn't find hide nor hair of Simply Read Books. They're one of my favorite independent publishers, cranking out gorgeous little creations each and every year. They weren't on my map though so I can only assume they didn't come out. Alas.
The book signings looked like fun. In this kind of situation you get a free book and have its author sign it for you. At the end of the hall is just a line of authors. Some do better than others, of course. I felt badly for the new teen author whose publisher kept working the lines trying to get her some new fans with a, "Do you like fantasy? Do you like fantasy?" While there, I ran into Monica Edinger and Joan Kindig and we waited for Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith to sign their new book Cowboy & Octopus. Then it turns out that Joan was the woman I replaced on the Newbery last year. We had a nice "woah" moment there.
In my travels I also ran into Paul Acampora, Richie Partington, Karen Breen, and John Mason. I saw Jerry Pinkney staring vacantly into space. I had Adam Rex sign his True Meaning of Smekday and got the second copy Christopher Paul Curtis has ever signed of his new book Elijah of Buxton. I met lots of other people too but my memory is freaky. While having lunch in a little oasis Candlewick set up (next to Carolyn Mackler) someone used the phrase "ALA aphasia". It's the sensation you receive (usually at ALA Conferences) when you meet someone that you know you've met before but you can't quite place where. I suffer from a lot of ALA aphasia. I'm not proud of it. It just happens.
By the way, Candlewick has just started putting their catalogs on CD-ROM. I think this may well be an idea that strays into brilliance. Who else is tired of the thick piles of paper catalogs gumming up your workplace? I know I am. Plus a CD-ROM could have interviews, behind the scenes stuff, and a host of cool extras.
At one point we ran into author Maryrose Wood who had a door prize from that Young Adult Literature Prom a month or so ago. You may remember it from John Green's quickie recap. Well here's the prize she got:
Yes. She really was carrying Knuffle Bunny, Too in there. But we did arrange it a little for this shot.
My secret plan is to find a way to adapt my body into the perfect Book Expo shape. Evolution begins with me. This secret plan requires that my shoulders grow enough muscles to easily carry several bags worth of ARCs without serious consequences to my central nervous system. However, knowing my luck I think I'm more likely to grow hips as wide as bookcases and just carry my wares that way. About this time Monica and I were weighed down with bags upon bags. Here you may see the aforementioned Mr. Jon Scieszka shocked at the amount of them.
I'd blame the blurriness of the shot on how fast it was moving, but you probably wouldn't believe me. With reason. Instead, we eventually found a cab to take us back into Columbialand and I changed right quick so as to turn around and go back to the same area for the Kidlit Drink Night. I took the train almost all the way there but because I was wearing painful shoes I thought that maybe I could hop a quick cab the rest of the way. During rush hour. On a Friday.
Fun Fact: Don't ever do that. Ever. Ever ever ever.
I made it eventually and zee party? She was hopping. Thanks to the good people at Kane/Miller I remembered to wear a blue dress and all kinds of folks were milling about. I saw Matt Phelan & wife, Michael Buckley & wife, Greg Fishbone & no wife (though one might well have been floating about), various Longstockings, Margo Rabb, Tim Bush, a nice microbiologist and a bunch o' bloggers. I finally got to meet our own Sheila, Liz B, and perhaps even Adrienne. I'm leaving people out, so please forgive me. The room, she was a little eensy weensy bit packed. I should have rented out the back area, but someone already had it. Lackaday.
After that it was off to The Copacabana. A place of airbrushed pink fronds, thick carpets, and female waiters (not men) wearing Cat in the Hat hats. Bloomsbury was kind enough to place right smack dab between Shannon Hale and Katie Grant for the duration which was all kinds of awesome. They made for great seatmates. And I'd tell you about their new books, but then I'd have to kill you. During the course of their conversation I learned that Grand Rapids, Michigan is a difficult place to find a restaurant in if you're from out of town. Also, Ms. Hale knows many of the verses from I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo, and Ms. Grant's family history is fascinating (it involves two skulls and a single body in a tomb).
The real highlight of the evening were the winners of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award. The winner in the picture book category was James Howe and Marie-Louise Gay for the remarkable Houndsley and Catina. I only recently discovered this book on my own when a young girl asked for it on the Reference Desk. It's a gem of a book. One that somehow got completely passed over on many of the 2006 Best Book Lists. I may have to break my ban on reviewing previous years on this blog just to give this title the attention it so sorely deserves.
Howe, for his part, was a delight. He mentioned that he felt "uncharacteristically nervous" that evening. And he quoted Catina who, in the midst of her desire to write a book, says without hesitation that, "My book will win prizes!" And so it has. Most touchingly, Howe mentioned that his partner Art "is my Houndsley". Once you've read the book you'll appreciate that statement. When Gay went up to speak someone at my table mentioned that they'd been admiring her outfit long before they knew who she was. Gay turned out to be a wonderful speaker as well. She spoke of how, when reading the manuscript, it went a long time without mentioning that Catina was a cat and Houndsley was a dog. Her speech was a lovely encapsulation of what it's like for the illustrator when a manuscript arrives on their doorstep.
You may recall that the winner of the chapter book read aloud portion went to Watt Key for Alabama Moon. A person gets a certain mental image of a writer when they read them. I'd seen Mr. Key as a 55 or so man of little hair and ample stomach. Instead this young man with a soft Alabama accent took to the stage and spoke of his initial wonder on coming to New York. He mentioned that he had no idea that his book would be published for children, how much he really want to sign something anything when he first came to the city, and his desire for shiny gold stickers to put on his book. He charmed the entire room from the minute he stepped on that stage. If you happen to get the chance, I highly urge you to bring Watt Key to your school or library. The man knows how to give a speech.
Marcus Zusak was one of the later speakers. It took us a while to figure out, but every table had about ten copies of The Book Thief on them. And every copy was signed with a different dedication (per table, I mean). So... ow. Poor, Mr. Zusak. I'm sure his hand must be throbbing by now. He mentioned at one point that, "Writing is like climbing a mountain and there's sanity at the top." That was nice. And he was followed up by the Fancy Nancy ladies who had a running Powerpoint of little girl fans dressed to the nines behind them.
So that was that then. On Saturday I did some more hearty partying, but that will wait for another day. I can't imagine what the poor publishers and authors must be feeling right now. At least I didn't have to get up early all week-end. Foof.
No Video Sunday today, m'loves. And a special hug and kiss to Anne Schwartz who asked whether I wrote posts this long every day. Bless your heart, m'darling. I only wish I could do so.
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Though I seriously doubt that anyone in the NYC vicinity is going to be checking blogs today, please remember to stop by the Landmark Tavern tonight at 5:00. I'll be in a dress and everything. Come by.
By executive decision, I hereby declare the following:
We shall meet at the Landmark Tavern located at 626 11th Ave. (@ 46th St.) this Friday at 5:00. The place is seven blocks north of the convention center, which shouldn't be too terrible a walk. Then, at 7:00 or so, those folks who are attending the ABC 7:30 dinner can take off and the rest of youse can stay.
Here's how Landmark is described:
This bar might as well be in New Jersey it’s so far west. But its history alone is worth a visit. The first beer, costing a nickel, was poured during the Johnson Administration (that’s Andrew, not LBJ), and rumor has it the tavern is haunted by an Irish girl and a Confederate soldier. During prohibition, Landmark was closed for 30 minutes, or the time it took to move the barrels of whiskey upstairs. The bar, carved from a single mahogany tree, is original, as are the floor tiles and stamped tin ceiling. Even the men’s bathroom with swinging saloon doors has a kind of old world charm. If that isn’t enough of a walk down memory lane for you, you’re better off at the Intrepid. The rest of us who like our history in the form of stories told by bartenders will stay put and enjoy a Magner’s Irish cider and an Anglo-Irish dinner menu that suits the surroundings perfectly.
So those of you inclined to have a meal will have the option of doing so too! Hopefully the volume will be less than it was during the drink night at Bar 9 back during the SCBWI Conference.
Piece by piece we're putting this thing together. I received word recently that the mysterious ABC dinner (no idea) is occurring on Friday, June 1st at 7:30. The following suggestion was then sent to me:
. . . I was wondering about trying to find a place near the Javits and the Copacabana (does Desi's ghost play there?:) where the ABC dinner is and then making it for 5 (right after the exhibits close for the day). Then those going to the ABC dinner could drop by (as the silent auction and reception is 5:00-7:15 and then dinner itself begins at 7:30) and it might work better for others not going to the dinner (but perhaps most do, I have no clue), but are not staying in the area or not night owls (admittedly, like me:).
Sounds good to me. That would give those people inclined to attend the dinner a chance to mingle beforehand. Those who were not going could either continue to hang out or simply fade into the mist. As it were.
We've established time and date. All we need now is a place. A location near the Javits and the Copacabana. Now due to the fact that the Javits is situated in a part of the city I enter only when the lure of attending a building made entirely out of the lenses of sunglasses cannot be resisted any longer, I don't know of any cool restaurants or bars. I thought that maybe the Javits Center might offer a list of nice local bars. Not so much.
Other places look more promising. There's Zanzibar (you might want to turn down the volume on this one). It looks nice but probably will be loud. They've their own DJ, after all. If you've any other suggestions of good places in the area, do let me know. I'll do a thorough check for any and possibilities this week.
Some of y'all are coming to NYC for Book Expo this year, yes no? Perhaps you should want to be with the mingling mingling? Perhaps a little of the old rubbing the elbows with others in the field, no yes?
Indeed. As such, let us gather together and drink large quantities of alcoholic beverages so as to assist in the process of "chatting", as they say. The day will have to be Friday, June 1st. Saturday is too darn kooky, by my count. Plus all the publishers appear to be battling it out with one another on Saturday night for your love. No, no Friday will do just fine.
The place and time? TBA, loverlies. Just pencil the drink night in first and we'll get to the whole "Where?" and "Will it be close to the convention center?" questions later.
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I really wanted to give you the full scoop on the kidlit drink night and my whole New York City experience, but I don’t think it’s going to be today. I’m very sorry, but I’m soooo tired. I got back about 6:00 p.m. last night. My mother, brother, and baby niece were in north Jersey for a visit with relatives while I was in New York City, so I rode home with them. They stayed over last night and were here this morning. I visited with them and got ready for my Girl Scout troop’s meeting. Then I had the meeting and now it’s 4:00 and I’m pooped.
I’ll tell you this: I had a great time. A really great time. I promise I’ll tell my story tomorrow (looks like it might be a snow day!), but for now get the scoop from Fuse#8, Galleycat, and Blue Rose Girls. Alvina was particularly nice, introducing me to everyone including David Diaz. The Caldecott winner. I didn’t know he was a Caldecott winner. Or what he did at all, for that matter. Oh, and I’m in one of the pictures on her site. Recognize the shirt?
If you check back tonight, I may have a Very Special Post related to the newest Edge of the Forest edition. You won’t want to miss it.
I wondered why my stats rose incrementally yesterday.
One Mr. Ron Hogan of Galleycat was nice enough to attend last Friday's Kidlit Drink Night. His was undoubtedly the highest profile blog there so it was nice to see he took the time. His piece wraps up the evening nicely too, though I was amused to see that the title made it seem like it was SCBWI's party.
No photos of me from Mr. Hogan were forthcoming (not a bad thing) so Alvina Ling's picture of me on her Blue Rose Girls post more than made up for the lack. Look how pointy my chin is! I could have a chin-off* with Reese Witherspoon at this rate.
Barbara Johansen's Cats and Jammers ALSO had a lovely photo-laden posting. Lovely pics and a good shot of the outside of the bar (something I never thought to get). Thanks to everyone who took some pics.
*Chin-off: Wherein two contestants sharpen their chins so as to partake in scads of balloon popping.
Sorry I made you wait. By now you may have read a few posts about Who Was There. This is my experience, in tiresome detail, of a very cool kidlit drink night.
Arriving at Bar 9, I made my way to the back room, and met Betsy or Fuse#8 right away. She was wearing her “I Am Kiki Strike” T-shirt as promised, and we exchanged our so-glad-to-meet-you-at-lasts. We chatted briefly and went up to the bar. I released her to host her party, and ordered a chicken sandwich. Hey I said tiresome detail, and I meant it, people.
Ordering at the bar at the same time was the only other person I had planned to meet at the drink night. Tim Bush, illustrator and gentleman, had offered me practical assistance for my visit to the Big City, and had agreed to make sure I made it home safely to my friend’s apartment. But we hadn’t met in person either. Well, he was very nice and fun to talk to. We talked for a while at the front of the bar instead of returning to the party already in progress. After fortifying myself with a chicken sandwich, one beer consumed, one beer in my hand, and some good conversation, I was ready to mingle.
When I walked into the back room, I realized that everyone was already in little clusters of people that they knew. I did the best thing I could: scurried to the quietest, least populated corner of the room. Now, who would have guessed what a wise decision this would be. Because it seemed that I met many people in my quiet corner. People who were dropping off their coats on the couches. People who were using the well-lit area to reapply lipstick. People who needed elbow room for a few minutes.
I quickly met all of the Longstockings. Actually, one was missing as it is Longstocking policy to always have one member not in attendence in case the bar is attacked. Or maybe that’s Congress and the State of the Union Address. Anyway, I spoke with Lisa Graff, who gave me a copy of her book. Important, given that I will interview her on Saturday. I talked with Caroline Hickey, who will send her book shortly. And I talked with Jenny Han, whose book, Shug, I read, loved, and praised. We talked for a while about her book and her thoughts in writing it. She’s working on something for younger readers now, and I made her pinky swear to get me a copy.
In my quiet corner, I met Ron from Galleycat, and we talked about blogging for fun and profit. I met J.L. Bell from Oz and Ends, and we talked about blogging, writing in general, Newbery awards, and world peace. Though I may be wrong about the world peace one. He was a very interesting guy, very nice, and also quite attached to our corner.
Alvina from the Blue Rose Girls (A picture of Alvina, J.L. and me is on her site) made it back our way, bringing along Barbara Johansen Newman, who deserves particular mention for being one person who was specifically looking to meet me during the evening. So bless you, BJN. (A picture of me and Alvina is on her site.) Then some class of 2k7er’s entered my territory, which meant business cards for everyone. Huzzah! Yi Shun Lai told us about her book featuring a man-eating cabbage called, I believe, Cole’s Law.
Then, another kismet encounter in the quiet corner. A woman walked up holding a book and this book was the one book in the whole Bloomsbury catalog that I was interested in reviewing. I told her as much, she gave me the book (or I wrestled it out of her hands), and sketched me in her notebook. We talked, along with J.L. Bell, about illustrations in middle-grade books. The author’s name is Ruth McNally Barshaw, and I’m sure I’ll be writing about her book, Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel, soon.
Time for a bathroom break and another beer (only three so far don’t judge me). On the way back to the room, I ran into Betsy. We talked a bit, and she introduced me to Laini Taylor. She and her husband have the most beautiful art on their business cards. She has written a novel that Betsy just raved about, and I hope I’ll get to see it myself someday.
The back room had cleared out some now, and I just inserted myself in a conversation with two women. One was 2k7er Rebecca Stead, and we shared some kid stories and some laughs. One was Michelle Knudson, who’s the author of Library Lion, plus also the editor of the Junie B. Jones books. I LOVE Junie B. Jones. We talked about J.B.J. for a while, and I believe she said she would forward my J.B.J. article to Barbara Park. And I believe that was before I gave her my wallet.
With the party winding down about 11:00 p.m., and the host leaving (we had made plans to talk the next day), I was ready to head out. Seeing my new friend Tim on the far side of the couch engaged in conversation, I climbed behind Barry Goldblatt (at the time it seemed less rude then walking in front of him, but in retrospect may have been more rude) and sat between him and Tim. And found myself sitting across from Linda Sue Park.
Well, I wasn’t going home now. I was glad to meet her, and she reads my blog (yeah, baby!), so of course I like her. She was very nice and very charming. She’s putting out a book of poetry soon, which we talked about, in between the times that Barry Goldblatt was telling her which 2006 books were total crap (apparently many popular YA titles).
When she got up to leave, I did too. I was able to collect the promotion card from Tracie Zimmer for her new book Reaching for Sun. I mention her card because it was actually a packet of daisy seeds, which may be the cutest thing ever. In going to close out my tab, the wonderful Blue Rose Girl Alvina introduced me to David Diaz. Whom I did not know as a Caldecott-winning illustrator. But he did not seem the least bit offended by my ignorance, and was very charming. And a little hot, by the way.
Okay, now I was ready to leave, and Tim and I had a real chatfest as he escorted me across town to the door of my friend’s apartment. It was closing in on 1:00 a.m. by the time I got home. I had two ARCs, a number of business cards, and (at least) one new friend. Not bad for one night. Not bad at all.
Loudly. Did I mention that it was loud? It was loud.
Here's J.L. Bell's honest recap of how a typical conversation at Bar 9 tends to go:
Nice woman: Hi, Jo#¢§, I'm ¶¥†ƒth º∞££¢w8ell™£ Bar∂ßåaw. Me: Hello,...Ellen? I’m happy to meet you. Nice woman: ≠∆¬∆µç≈ §∞∂å∑i§÷¶leßªm and I ¶ªå™∑@rstwhi^7 }O∂å‰ÍÅÔ∆∆ on ¥$∞7‡6=•. Me: Ha ha! I mean, I’m so sorry. I mean, really?
It's the most wonderful time of the year. That time when we can meet and mingle in Soho and feel all purdy n' fine. It's Kidlit Drink Night again, and it's gonna be on Tuesday, April 17th around... oh say.... 6:30ish. I'll remind you when we start to move closer to the date in question but I'm hoping for a fine fabulous turnout. Let's see some hustle, Quakers.
Thanks to Stefan for the picture. He just took it of his own cocktail glass. Remarkable, non?
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DATE: Tuesday, May 8th TIME: 6:30 LOCATION: We'll be meeting, as per usual, at Sweet & Vicious. If the weather's nice we'll be able to use that lovely garden they have out back. WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT?: Oh. Well, if you've never been to one of these, it's basically just anyone in the NYC area who's interested in hanging out and talking about children's books. Typical events of this nature begin in the bar, move to the rice pudding bistro down the street (just as weird as it sounds, I'm afraid), with a stop at a pizza place for a slice or two. It's lovely. Do come by. Do.
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Tomorrow night at 6:30 is the next official Kidlit Drink Night (should I change it to "Nite" or would that be too awful?). It'll be at Sweet & Vicious and I would love to see anyone who happens to be around there. Come have a drink and chat with New York's resident authors, editors, librarians, and teachers. If it's warm we'll even have a back patio to stand on. Can't beat it, people.
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WARNING: Descriptions of food are contained in this article. If you have a personal distaste with the image of librarians partaking of delicious desserts, I suggest that you skip the following.
Yesterday I decided to wear a skirt to work. This is a momentous decision to make, particularly when coupled with the fact that skirts cannot be typically worn with Sketchers. They can, but it looks a tad peculiar and the whole point of wearing a skirt was to avoid the odd-look. Not that it isn't my preferred look 9 times out of 10. Anyway.
I had a chance to have lunch with the good people of Roaring Brook Press alongside their Aussie author Gregory Rogers (of The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard fame). It was just lovely. I had a steak with a side of .... okay. I'm not sure what they were. They could have been fries but they were the same mass and thickness as particularly thin angel hair pasta. I can't find a Google image. What's more, no one around me entirely certain how to eat them. Do you do it individually, one teeny tiny fry at a time? Do you chomp them with a fork? Do you mix them with the meat and attempt to down them in one fell swoop? Most mysterious. For dessert I had, oh man. I had this chocolate cake filled with ooey gooey warm chocolate sauce that spilled out when I cut into it. Espresso ice cream on the side with raspberries and a kind of toffee base underneath. My seatmate, in contrast, had a chocolate "hamburger". Which is to say, it had a cookie center, oddly impenetrable "bun" cookie top (the quotations marks in the menu amused us considerably), pistachio ice cream formed into a pickle shape (this is all true), and a side of what could have been cranberries that were probably supposed to be "ketchup". Dessert chefs, according to my boss, are all into the "dessert hamburger". You have been warned.
Mr. Rogers, for his part, was quite charming. Neal Porter, who I had never met, was nice as well. And Simon Boughton had no idea who I was. Some of you will understand why I am relieved about this.
The Fall 2007 catalog was handed out and I spotted some tasty items. Sarah Varon created Cat and Chicken last year. It was a book that I liked okay, but I had issues with the storyline. It almost felt as if it would work better as a proper graphic novel rather than a picture book. Fast forward to 2007 and lo and behold we have Robot Dreams. Just your typical lonely dog creating a robot for a friend and then hanging out. It's a children's graphic novel (enter flashing lights here) so be on the lookout for it. They're also putting out a graphic novel about Laika. You know. "Earth's first space traveler". Correct me if I'm wrong here, but didn't Laika die? She died in space, right? We'll see how all that plays out in the book. I'm interested but wary. But best of all? Town Boy is coming! It's coming, it's coming, it's coming!!! Can't wait! Those of you who were lucky enough to read Kampung Boy will understand this excitement. I was kind of intrigued by the Don Brown book The Train Jumper. Cool concept. Not sure why no one's thought of it before.
So that was lunch. Still wearing heels (but switching out my glasses for contacts) I proceeded after work to Sweet & Vicious. Good crowd? Great crowd. Started out slow but by 7:00 we were seriously hopping. I won't name everyone there (as I've an embarrassing inability to remember names) but I'll try to post some pics later this week.
People mingled nicely. I'm a terrible hostess (can't remember names, tends to squat down in a single spot and not move for long periods of time, etc.) but thankfully I wasn't really needed. Heck, I couldn't not shown up at all and it would've been swell. Cheryl Klein (who I suspect was responsible for 85% of the attendees) was there as well and stunning as ever. Topics were discussed. For example, I believe that at one point Chad Beckerman's name came up. He is the former Hot Man of Children's Literature with the cool new book designer blog (Check out his recent list of other design bloggers, by the way).
Then Laura Lutz and her Fabulous Four came in. Queens librarians. I've always had a nice smattering of editors, agents, illustrators, and publicity folks at these things but on the teacher and librarian end we've tended to come up a little short. No longer. Now, people, I've known Manhattan librarians. I've known Brooklyn librarians. I've known Bronx and even Staten Island librarians (with their enviably high Summer Reading stats), but I've never really hung out with any from Queens. Boy howdy, they are electric. Laura L., Laura P., Lori, Gillian, and Sarah were all spit and fire and stories about being bitten on the neck by toddlers and the fact that Conan O'Brien is an Olivia fan. Needless to say, they left me exhausted. After drinks we got pizza and after pizza everyone tromped off to get some delicious high end rice pudding while I lamely stumbled home to sleep in my warm cozy bed. Heck, I was even in my own borough (which was more than they were). How supremely wimpy.
All in all, very nice. Very fun. But why believe me? Here are the facts as such.
# of Males in Attendance: 2 (this is actually quite high) Outdoor Temperature: 60 degrees or so # of Agents: 2 # of Cards I Received: 2 Librarians: 6(?) Total Number of Attendees: Dunno. Could have been 30. 30 sounds right, right? Let's say 30. Hot Shoes of Children's Literature: Don't remember her name, but there was a pair of black leather boots on one of the Queens librarians (memory foggy) that probably took the cake. At my next party, digital cameras will come into play.