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Essentially, a journal about books written for children and young adults about World War II.
1. KidLitCon 2012

The 6th annual KidLitCon was held on September 28 and 29, 2012, but it was the first time I have been able to attend so I was super excited, especially since it was held in my favorite place - New York City and in my favorite library - the research branch of the NYPL.  What could be better?  At KidLitCon, bloggers from all over the country gather to talk about all kinds of issues relating to blogging and kitlit.  It is both social and information, and a great way to meet people you sometimes only know in cyberspace.

Here is some of what I did during KidLitCon:

On Friday, September 28th, there were visits to publishers.  In the morning, I, along with some of my fellow bloggers, went to the offices of Holiday House, where we were graciously welcomed by Hayley Gonnason and some of the talented people who work there.  First, we were shown some of the incredible artwork done by different illustrators over the years and then we were told about some of the exciting new books coming out in 2013.  This was followed by a visit from the husband and wife team of Betsey and Ted Lewin.  Both have new and wonderful books due out in 2013, too.

In the afternoon, I was off to HarperCollins wth more of my fellow bloggers.  There, we were welcomed by Mollie Thomas and several of their terrific editors.  HarperCollins gave us a really in-depth survey of all the different books coming out in Winter 2012 and Spring 2013.  And, may I say, there are some pretty exciting books to look forward to reading.

(Grace and baby -
 csrtsey of Sondra Elkund
at Sonderbooks)
At both publishing houses, we were given a bag of books and galleys, which should keep us busy reading and blogging for a while.  In fact, their were so many that I decided to hop on a bus home before going off to dinner at IchiUmi, a very nice Japanese restaurant.  At dinner, we had the pleasure of hearing Grace Lin telling us about her new book Starry River of the Sky as well as how she came to embrace her Chinese heritage and culture.  Lin, like so many first generation kids in this country (myself included), wanted to be American and rejected all her parents efforts to introduce and educate her about things Chinese.  It wasn't until she was in Italy studying art, that she suddenly realized that while she had been so intent on becoming an artist in the European tradition, her true art self was really to be found in her Chinese past.  And so she began to study Chinese art and started writing wonderful books for young readers that reflected her Chinese art self.  Grace was there with her husband and her really cute baby girl.

On Saturday morning, I arrived at the library around 9:30 and was welcomed by my two favorite NYC lions, Patience and Fortitude.  But just beyond them, hanging out on the steps waiting for the library to open and KidLitCon2012 to officially, begin were a bunch of bloggers.  There, I ran into some old friends (that's Pam of MotherReader holding up a book) and met some new bloggers.

(Picture curtsey of Sondra Elkund at Sonderbooks)
Eventually we made our way down to the auditorium, and I mean down.  The library used to be the reservoir for NYC and as you go downstairs, you can see part of the wall from it that was preserved when the libary was built.  After some opening remarks, we were off to our varying sessions.  My first one was called Community-Building On and Off the Blog: Secrets, Tips, and Cautionary Tales, moderated by Sheela Chari, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Michelle Schusterman.  They covered lots of helpful ways to attract readers and keep them coming back and they have posted a recap of what was said on their blog From the Mixed-Up Files...of Middle Grade Authors.

My second session of the morning was with Greg Pincus and was called Avoiding the Echo Chamber: Bringing the World of Children's Literature to the World.  Greg, whom I was so happy to finally meet, talked about finding your niche in kidlit blogging, so that you stand out from others.  And he has also posted a recap of his talk on his blog The Happy Accident (Greg also blogs about his thoughts, ramblings and original poetry at GottaBook).

We broke for lunch for an hour and I walked over the Pret-a-Mange for a sandwich and ran into Donna Miskind, an artist and blogger whom I had just met earlier.   After lunch and conversation about what is fine art, we headed back for a panel discussion on How Nice is too Nice? Critical Reviewing and "Niceness."  This was moderated by Jennnifer Hubert Swan (Reading Rants), and presenters were Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production), Liz Burns (A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy), Monica Edinger (Educating Alice), Marjorie Ingall (Tablet Magazine), Sheila Barry (Groundwood Books), and Maureen Johnson (author).  Niceness is an important topic for bloggers in view of some of the things which have occurred lately, such as one blogger being threatened by an author for less than stellar review.  And each of the presenters had excellent, well thought out ideas on this topic.  Perhaps Liz Burns summed it up best when she said you can be negative without being nasty.  Luckily, there is a detailed recap written by Mahnaz Bar, which you can read at the School Library Journal.

My final session of the day was The Benefits of Blogging with Diane Estrella.  This was also an information-packed session, and we were given a very useful handout, which Diane has posted along with a great recap on her blog, That's What I'm Here For.

The last event of the day was the keynote speaker who happened to be YA author Maureen Johnson.  Well, it was really the anti-keynote.  Maureen brought along her friend, YA author Robin Wassermann  (yup, you know her, she wrote The Book of Blood and Shadow).  So the keynote was really a conversation with them and the audience.  And it was fun and funny and the best keynote I have ever heard.
But golly gee, it is hard to give a recap of this "speech" because I was so caught up in enjoying it so much that I didn't take any notes, but luckily, Maureen Johnson posted her really informative outline for the speech on her Twitter feed (Betsy Bird apparently also found it).

AND, lucky us, we were all give a copy of Maureen's latest book, The Name of the Star.

All in all, it was a wonderful KidLitCon and I can see why people might want to travel far and wide to attend it.  And I would like to extend a really big thank you to the organizers Betsy Bird, Monica Edinger and Liz Burns, who all did such a fantastic job of making it all work so well.  And thanks to the NYPL for letting us use the library's facilities for free.

And one last thing:  the most frequently heard comment on Friday and Saturday - "I wish it were in New York every year."

One more last thing. if you happen to be in NYC, Betsy runs a Children's Literary Salon once a month at the NYPL  The next one will be on Saturday, October 20th at 3:00 PM and the topic will be Bullying in Books for Youth.  I have always enjoyed going to the Children's Literary Salon whenever I can.

13 Comments on KidLitCon 2012, last added: 10/11/2012
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