105 Ways to Give a Book

ALA Experience: Part III

When we last left our heroine, she was headed to the Convention Center bathroom to let a black silk top (finally, a chance to wear it), Prada shoes (bought on eBay!) and a feathered fascinator (yeah, a new word for me too) make her fancy for the big night...

I headed to the hotel in conversation with Jenny Schwartzberg and with a book-fiiled suitcase taking up my legroom in the cramped shuttle. After checking the hefty bag, I was ready to make the rounds at cocktail hour. I quickly ran into Jennie, who challenged my fascinator with her most awesome one. That alone would have forced us together for the rest of the evening. We found many other kidlitosphere folk and many impressive authors and illustrators as the party got started. As we got closer to the magic hour, we hovered close to the entrance to the banquet room. Apparently, when the ropes came down there would be a running of the librarians that we needed to join if we wanted a prime seat.
It was our preparation that put us in a good place to snag a table with fellow morning presenters Travis and Liz, plus bonus fellow blogger Adrienne. I took pictures of them, but I was using my daughter’s camera, with apparently all the wrong settings. Sorry. But I do have one — or can lift one — of Grace Lin’s buddies from The Blue Rose Girls — Anna Alter, Alvina Ling, Elaine Magliaro, Libby Koponen, and Meghan McCarthy. I should have sat down and actually visited, but I was in mom mode, making sure that everyone had a seat.

Susan Kusel had helpfully arranged a huge table buyout, so we were guaranteed good company all around. A table over from mine included Tanita Davis — I mean, Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Tanita Davis — and her husband David, who had a awesome camera, by the way. Many of the poetry crew sat there, including Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly Fineman (pictured), Laura Salas, and Tricia Stohr-Hunt, with occasional visitor Joyce Sidman. I mean, Caldecott Honor Award winner Joyce Sidman.

I believe it was this cheerful group who alerted me to an improbable alignment, when the table in front of me — yes, even the seat in front of me — was occupied by one Mo Willems. Unbelievable, but true.

He was very gracious in his greeting, and was only mildly annoyed when I almost blinded him with my stupid camera flash settings. He doodled at times during the presentation, and I know this because he was in my eyeline during the whole speech thing.

You see, my view of the stage was this:

But if I looked to the JumboTron screen, I saw this:

Which means I pretty much couldn’t help but be looking toward Mo the entire time that people were talking. Oh, and I had tried to be so good this conference in repairing my stalker image. I hadn’t gone to his signings, I didn’t go to the book cart drill that he was emceeing. But yet, here he was so close that I could have flicked butter pats at him all night. Not that I did. That totally wasn’t me.

There were indeed speeches from Caldecott winner Jerry Pinkney and Newbery winner Rebecca Stead. The speeches were contained on the CDs on our table, and we had a lovely program designed in the theme of The Lion & the Mouse. Given our long kidlitosphere connection with Grace Lin, our tables were particularly enthusiastic about her chance to accept the Newbery Honor award. (Read her lovely version.)

There was a receiving line at the conclusion of the banquet, but since I had said something to all of the winners at some point during the weekend, I decided to hang around and socialize. Besides, those open bottles of wine left on the publishers’ tables weren’t going to drink themselves. (Kidding! maybe...) I was able to say a quick hello to Holly Black, Jon Scieszka, and Tobin Anderson. I found myself in a conversation with Charles R. Smith, the photographer for My People, after saying, approximately, “Who are you?” Because I’m subtle like that.

At that point my chariot was about to turn into a pumpkin, meaning that Metro stops running at midnight, so it was time to go. As will happen, it took longer to get out and all than we thought, and Jennie was soooo kind to drive me to my car at the King Street station. (I owe you a scone at the next book club meeting!)

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Category: 2 comments


David T. Macknet said...

Oh, how I wish I'd been looking at the camera in that picture. ;)

Anna Alter said...

Your feathered fascinator was fabulous! Great to meet you in person at last :)