105 Ways to Give a Book

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Say you are at a book signing by famous children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola. Do you...
  1. get your books signed, tell him that you admire his work, and have your picture taken together?
  2. plug your blog shamelessly and write your phone number on his arm with a black sharpie?
  3. tell him of a vague connection you have to him and then ask him to read your manuscript?
While you think that over, let me back up. On Saturday of my New York City trip, I went to Books of Wonder at the suggestion of my friend Tim. I ended up there earlier than I had planned, but actually, in a cosmic way, just in time. As it turns out Tomie dePaola was reading from his new book Why?: A 26 Fairmont Avenue Book and signing books. I was so early — by chance — that I was number nine for the book signing. I picked out two books, and wandered around for a while.

Books of Wonder is a great store with art, rare books, and many signed books on the shelves. I picked up Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? signed by seven of the fourteen illustrators (including Mo) for the regular retail price. Very cool.

Mr. dePaola read a little from his book and took a few questions. Then it was time for the book signing. Back to my starting questions. What did I do? The answer is “a.” Though writing my digits on his arm would have been funny, in a “call security” kind of way. But the woman right in front of me choose “c,” which pissed me off. First, because even I — mistress of the brazen — know that it’s inappropriate to ask an author to look at your manuscript, especially at a book signing! Second, with her talking to him and his directing her to SCBWI, she totally bogarted my time with him! The bookstore assistant handed my books over while he and the woman were still talking, so he signed my books and was done with me before I could even open my mouth. Oh, and then the woman in her flustered state took my signed book, so I used the thirty seconds I had left to say, “Hey, that’s my book!” The word “dumb-ass” was left implied, as there were children present.

I did get my picture taken with the man, since the store had offered. I got to say, approximately,
“IreallyloveyourworkandIalwayshave Iamachildrenslibrarianandabookbloggerand IwassogladthatIhappenedtobeheretoday,”
before the music played me off.

Afterwards I went to tour Donnell Library with a Very Special Tour Guide. I saw Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, an original Newbery medal, and rare books. Betsy seems like her blog, if that makes sense to you. She had thrown me off by saying that she’s shy around famous authors, but I didn’t see much shy about her. Not that I’m a famous author, mind you, but she didn’t seem like the shy type. After the tour, Betsy and I chatted over beers (but each one was only five ounces in a sample set we shared) about blogging for fun and profit, the frustrations of the Newbery committee (including the frustrations of not being able to talk much about the Newbery committee), the great showing at kidlit drink night, and ALA in Washington, DC (my neighbor to the north). I think with the help of the lovely Liz at Tea Cozy (and I might want to tell her this), we’ll try to get something together for kidlit bloggers. Or bloggers and authors. Or both — still working on it. Anyone interested?

I’ve extended the deadline for submitting to the Carnival of Children’s Literature if you do so by email (at the end of my blogroll). If you use the Carnival site, it will forward on to the next host automatically, and she has enough to do without worrying about your wayward posts. You have Friday and Saturday to send something, and then I’m closing the door on this puppy.


Kelly Fineman said...

I met Tomie at an SCBWI conference in NYC in 2005. When I first saw him, I flipped out and my friends thought I was a spaz -- I was all "Oh my God, that's Tomie De Paola" (with attendant hand-fluttering and stammering).

The next day, I walked up to him and introduced myself and told him that seeing him had been a "rock star moment" for me, and he was kind and sweet (and flattered), and I had pictures taken with him too.

I heart Tomie.

Jone said...

I can only hope to have the privelge of meeting him one day. His books rock. Strega Nona hails from my husband's part of Italy (well, actually his grandparents)

Magpie said...

I hope you got a snack at City Bakery, which is across the street from Books of Wonder!

gail said...

Regarding the dumb-ass: Cringe! Was everyone around you staring with their mouths open?

I didn't actually meet Tomie, but years ago I attended a conference held in honor of his donating his papers to the University of Connecticut. It was all Tomie, all day. At one point before everything got underway he walked by me. He was so close, I could have reached out and given him a shove.

Which would have been far more acceptable than asking him to read my manuscript.

Kaz said...

Tomie's "Wuggie Norple" is one of my all time faves! I'm so jealous you got to meet, I mean be in the same room as, him. !

MotherReader said...

Gail, with these two lines...

"He was so close, I could have reached out and given him a shove.

Which would have been far more acceptable than asking him to read my manuscript."

You've showed your comic sylying that makes Happy Kid! so fantastic.