105 Ways to Give a Book

The National Book Festival: The Payoff

After meeting Mo and his family, the girls and I returned to the children’s tent, where the Kadir Nelson session was already in progress. If you are unfamiliar with his name, you may know his work as an illustrator of books such as Just the Two of Us, Please, Puppy, Please and most recently Moses. Along with being a incredible artist, he also a certified Hot Man of Children’s Literature.

Given that I love his work and he is... well, hot, I should have been in rapt attention through his session. But through the whole thing, I couldn’t stop thinking about how totally wild it was that I should run into Mo. I mean, what are the chances? So, unfortunately, I missed most of what Kadir Nelson said. And since his new book wasn’t at my library today, I can’t review that for you either. And I can’t include a picture given that I STILL DIDN’T HAVE BATTERIES IN MY CAMERA!

When the session ended, my crankiness kicked in. I had not heard from Bill yet, and was ready to bag the whole thing. I called my husband to say as much, but he had finally found parking and was bringing batteries TWO HOURS after dropping us off. With Kadir Nelson talking to fans at the tent, there was still a chance to get a Hot Man’s picture on this page.

“How far away are you?” I asked.

“Maybe five minutes’ walk,” he replied.

“What if you run?” I threw back.

And run he did, because he is that wonderful. And because he knew from my tone that I was on my last nerve. But as he made his scampering way across the grounds of the Smithsonian Castle, I saw something that made Kadir Nelson fade away. It couldn’t be, and yet it was.

Mo and family stopped in conversation outside the children’s tent. No freakin’ way.

As my breathless husband arrived, batteries held out like a baton in the Olympics relay, I pointed out the amazing second appearance of my favorite children’s author/illustrator. And, as if on cue, my seven-year-old took off in his direction to say hi to his daughter.

“Do you have a question for me?” he politely asked my daughter — who I can only imagine was staring up at him with a Cheshire-cat grin.

“I think she’s stalling so I could meet you.” said my husband, who introduced himself.

I was a minute behind this lovely scene, having been loading my camera — FINALLY — with new batteries.

We all talked for a few minutes. His wife told a great story about how Mo has gotten very popular in the neighborhood. So popular in fact, that one day she was out walking the dog and heard a little boy tell his mom, “Look! That’s Mo Willems’s dog.” But it was clear that his daughter was worn out and ready to go back to the hotel for a little break... but not before I could get a picture.

MotherReader and MoMy only decent picture of the festival. In fact, either I somehow left the camera on after the festival or the sheer power of Mo’s... Mo-ness killed my batteries, because when I went to use the camera that night at my high school reunion... yup, dead batteries. Unbelievable.


Anonymous said...

I've been following your story. Pretty funny. Mo's a cutie.


Kelly said...

Can't see the photo for some reason, but I keep meaning to drop by all week and say I've loved your reports!!

Bkbuds said...

Fantastic story, great pic! Well worth the effort.