Last weekend I attended ALA. (The American Library Association) Because my day job is that of a children's librarian, I try to get to as many of these national meetings as possible. And now that I have books published, I have two reasons to attend. This year the Midwinter session was held in Philadelphia -- the city of my birth.
The 8-year old often goes to conventions with me, but this year she decided that attending a friend's birthday party was more important -- so I was childless, for once.
I got there Saturday afternoon, in time to sit in on part of the meeting of the Notable Children's Books Committee and to see part of the exhibits. The Notable Children's Books discussion seemed to be heavy with picture books this year with few non-fiction or graphic novels considered.
Sunday I got to see the rest of the exhibits and more committee meetings. The exhibits are fascinating places to see the new books being offered by publishers, to learn more about library technology, and to get books signed by authors. Speaking of which, my own signing was scheduled for 3 - 5 pm that day.
I attended part of the Random House Librarian Spring book Review, but the absolutely best part of the day was the BBYA-Teen session. This happens every midwinter. Local teenagers volunteer to read from the list of potential Best Books for YA. Then, on Sunday afternoon, they speak up at this meeting and tell the committee (and the hundreds of librarians and people from the publishing world) exactly what they think about these books. It was extremely well organized this year. The committee chair would announce that discussion would begin for page one of the list and the kids who had thoughts about some of those books would line up behind two mikes and spend a minute each giving reasons why this book should be included on the final list -- or not. They were articulate and had excellent reasons. ("unrealistic" being one of the harshest criticisms)
I can't wait until the 8-year old is old enough to participate in a BBYA teen discussion during some Washington, DC or Philadelphia midwinter ALA.
Remember where I said that I was signing my new book, The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun? Late Sunday afternoon.
The exhibits had been mobbed with people earlier in the day, before BBYA began meeting. Then hundreds left the exhibit area for the BBYA. Hundreds more left to hear a speech by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- famous basketball player and author of 7 books. Which meant, from 3-5pm, very few people passed by the booth where I was signing. Although I only signed one book, I did manage to hand out over 30 pencils with the name of my book on it.
This summer, after the June ALA is over, I plan to hold a contest about the Halloween book on this blog. Anyone who sends me the correct answer will get copies of my books.
On Monday, I attended the Youth Media Awards Press Conference. A most exciting event. It's so neat to be in the room when these are announced. I was jumping up and down in my seat when several of my online writer friends won honors there. And it turns out that the winner of the Newbery is a school librarian at Park School in Baltimore! Wow!