I was able to get to the signings of Avi, Gregory MacGuire, Jack Prelutsky, Nancy Perl, Eric Kimmel, Laura Schlitz, and Jeff Kinney. The only one I really had to wait for was Jack Prelutsky, and he was very friendly and funny about signing the book “You’re a winner!” for the 48 HBC. Other notables were Avi, who was a little bit cranky about doing the same thing, and Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, who was very sweet and gracious. I may be biased though, in that at least he knew my blog. I bought his book for my daughter, but he’s committed to a donation for next year’s contest and I will remember that.First let me note that I didn’t remember that after all. But there’s more to the Jeff Kinney story that I never told, because at the time it sounded so sad. Now it’s kinda funny.
It’s June 2007 and I’ve been trudging through the exhibition hall looking at the publisher displays, picking up ARCs, and getting a few books signed. It’s terribly fun, but also exhausting. I claim a place along the wall to sit for minute and sort out my plunder. Directly in front of me is a nice-looking man, with a huge stack of books and not one autograph seeker. I recognize the book because Fuse#8 raved about it, and I paid attention since we often have the same taste. At this point, I don’t need more to carry home, but I feel so bad for the poor guy sitting there, that I go up anyway to buy a book for my daughter. Jeff Kinney has been sitting there long enough to draw a decent little doodle in the book he signs for me. We talk about Fuse#8’s review, blogging, and the 48 Hour Book Challenge. He says he reads my blog, which I’m not sure I believe, but I give him niceness credits for saying so in any case. I could have probably used that to get a free book, but it doesn’t seem right to even try. And he’s just so nice. I wish him luck on his book, gather my belongings, and continue on my way. I see him again as I finish that side of the exhibit hall still with no one in line. Poor guy.
So now here he is, on his third book with more than 11 million “Wimpy Kid” books in print. The movie a freakin’ movie is getting together. And less than two years ago, I could have pulled up a chair and chatted with him at his empty book-signing table for the better part of an hour.
I could share this story now as a way to highlight the success of a nice, deserving guy. I could share this story as a way to remind other children’s authors that their break could be just around the corner. But I’m sharing this story to make sure that Jeff Kinney doesn’t renege on his offer to contribute an original illustration for the year’s 48 Hour Book Challenge. Or at least give me my ten bucks back.