I can’t wait for the webcasts to be up from the National Book Festival, because that’s where you’ll see MY DAUGHTER reading/acting Today I Will Fly with MO WILLEMS and his daughter TRIXIE! I know!!! It’s like a Mo-fan dream come true. Even better really, because as a parent, I enjoy the successes and high points of my children even more than my own. It makes my heart burst. It’s why I kept pushing her amazing singing performance, because it gave me such joy I wanted to share it.
But back to Mo. I went to the National Book Festival with both of my daughters, along with a friend and her teen daughter. We started off with the author signings which were packed. The teens wanted to go to Jeff Kinney, but his line was already closed off fifteen minutes before his signing time had started. They decided to try for Rick Riordan, whose line was also huge, but was still open at least. The fifth grader had no interest, but wanted to wait in the Mo Willems line. I was actually the one who was ready to bag it, because the line was long and it didn’t look like we’d get to the front in time. I reminded her that we had seen him in January and that we’d see his reading session, but she really wanted to wait. And so we did.
We were among the last people to get our book signed. Mo did recognize me with my nickname, “Blogger!” Erin and I each got an Elephant and Piggie book signed, and said we’d see him at his reading later. With a few people behind us and Mo’s handler waiting to the side, it wasn’t the time for deep conversation or even a photo.
Fast-forward to the reading an hour later. Actually, not much happened, so here it is: The teens almost got their books signed by Rick Riordan, but he had to leave just before he got to them. So they decided to go directly to the teen tent so they could definitely see his reading at 3:15. The fifth grader and I caught Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi at the very tail end of their signing, and then went to their reading at the children’s tent. They were engaging presenters and kept the audience laughing.
Okay, so now we’re at the Mo Willems reading time and I see him on stage with his helper. They’re looking around the audience and I figure that they probably need a few kids to give drawing ideas or flip pages or hold a book or something. I tell my daughter that Mo’s looking around, and when he looks her way she waves at him. He waves her up. Wow! She goes to the stage, he talks to her for a bit, she agrees to something, and stands off to the back of the stage.
Mo starts his reading talking about the mom who says that her son wants to be a writer when he grows up. Mo replies, to all of us, “Your child is already a writer. He wants to get published.” Because children are natural writers and illustrators. Then Mo reads The Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed to the crowd. Then he talks about how he means for his books to be played, not just read. So he is going to share Today I Will Fly with him as Gerald the Elephant and my Erin as Piggie! OMG! Trixie played the barking dog and Dawn played the bird. But my daughter my daughter was Piggie! She’s an actress and (quite fittingly this time) a ham anyway, so she did a great reading in front of like two hundred people with no fear and no holding back. It was so exciting!
I ran to the back as soon as she was done to give her a hug and tell her what a fantastic job she had done. I talked to Dawn a bit, said hi to Trixie, and caught Mo for a quick picture before he was off to his next event. I’m not even sure if I thanked him for giving Erin that wonderful opportunity, so if not (or again), THANK YOU, MO!
That seems like enough National Book Festival for today, so tomorrow I’ll share information from the Megan McDonald, Jeff Kinney, and Judy Blume sessions. Plus I’ll have a report from TeenReader on Rick Riordan and the elusive Jeff Kinney autograph.