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KidLitCon Seattle: The MotherReader Experience

At the Hotel Monaco in Seattle, you can request a goldfish for your room. Um, ours died the first night.

See, that’s the kind of lead-off you can use when you let everyone else write their KidLitCon Seattle wrap-ups before you. While they talk about the takeaway theme of “relationship,” the incredible, informative sessions, and the amazing keynote address of Scott Westerfeld, I can cover the subtle, personal experience. Which was better, the scones or the brownies? (Too close to call.) Were the pens provided by the hotel adequately “clicky”? (They were.) How many slices of carved turkey can one stack on a small slider bun? (Four.)

Then there’s the goldfish thing. I was so excited when my roommate, Liz, told me that we could get a goldfish for our room. How cool, right? She turned in before me on that first Thursday night because I was helping conference organizers extraordinaire Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker-Robinson get presenter giftees ready. (See, Colleen? I told you envelope stuffing would be involved!) When I got back to the room, I realized that our fish was swimming in an odd sidestroke unusual to a fish. I knew that guy was a goner, but not knowing any fish rescue techniques I went to bed. Liz and I woke up to find him floating on top of his tank, and both of us had to pull back on a bit of... glee. Not because we hate pets, but because it was funnier that the fish died.

And this is why I go to KidLitCon. I mean, not to kill goldfish, but to be with my people. The friends I rarely see, but who look at life and humor and books with the same feeling. Not always the same opinions, but with a rare meeting of the minds that I find few other places in real life. In fact, as I was making my way to the hotel after a long, annoying, exhausting day of travel I was swearing to myself that I would NEVER cross-country again. I went straight to the KidLitCon Operation Center (otherwise known as Colleen and Jackie’s room), and that oath disappeared from my brain as I hugged Colleen, Jackie, Liz, Jen, and AnneKelly handed me a glass of wine. And I was home.

Well, except that at home, I don’t pay seventeen dollars for three scallops. (WTF?) But was very grateful to my dinner companions for sharing their extras in their more normally priced and generous meals. With team spirit, we headed downstairs to the conference room to set up for the next day. Which seemed like the same day in my mind, given my jet-lagged lack of sleep and the sameness of the morning where the same collective headed off to a hardy breakfast at a diner around the corner that I scoped out for the group. I’ve never appreciated a seven-dollar omelet more. After the meal, Jen, Anne, Liz and I walked around Pike’s Market while Liz and I fine-tuned our presentation. Meaning that Liz worried that we didn’t have enough to fill the time, while I laughed at the idea that Liz and I — either of whom talk for an hour about The Giving Tree — would have any chance of dead air in our presentation.

Small break back at the hotel, and then we were on with our panel Bloggers and Writers and Pubs! Oh My! with our very special guests, Kirby Larson (Newbery Honor winner) and Zoe Luderitz (Little, Brown marketer). I feel like I’ve blanked on much of what we talked about, but have decided to piece that together in a separate post anyway. I was pleased with my introduction to the topic, which went back to the early days of the kidlitosphere, when a group of us talked about this new dynamic of reviewers, librarians, authors, editors, parents, et al. talking about books and if this coziness made us less objective reviewers. We didn’t come to any consensus then, but in a way I did come to my own conviction: If the possibility of less objectivity comes with this vibrant, unique and special community we call the KidLitosphere... I’ll take it.

And you know what? Four years later, I was saying that to a roomful of people who were there because we embraced that risk. There we were — reviewers, librarians, authors, editors, parents, et al. — continuing that discussion of how we could all work together with understanding, respect, and integrity. Some of us had traveled thousands of miles to be part of that conversation, and online we keep talking, adapting, and refining those relationships.

Among our community, we find real friends. Later we may laugh with those friends about the goldfish that died in our care. And we get another goldfish. Her name is Natalie, and I believe that she is doing just fine.

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13 comments:

Kirby Larson said...

Pam, Natalie says to tell you she's just fine. But I am missing all the energy and stimulation of that crazy smart KidLitCon crew!

Jen Robinson said...

Pam, you can share my dinner any time. This recap post is very you, in the best possible way. I think you summed up what's wonderful about KidLitCon, and this community. Happy to be one of your people ;-)

Melissa said...

Well, I kind of feel ripped off; we didn't get a goldfish in OUR room. Then again, we also didn't get to take the snazzy elevator to the 10th or 11th floor. Oh, how I wanted to ride on that elevator. (It's the small things.) :-)

Colleen said...

That poor fish! But yes, you are right, it was waaaaay funnier that the fish died. (I'm sure I'm going to hell for that....)

Michelle said...

I'm beyond jealous of the fabulousness but looking forward to hopefully attending next year when it's back on the East coast!

Sondy said...

I love your unique look at the conference! And what you have to say. It's such a great community to be part of!

Jodie said...

Sorry to hear about the goldfish :-( but what a funny blog :-) Thanks!

Kelly J. said...

Again, may I say, my worries about the fish came to light because people belittled them?

And wine any time. We polished it off pretty well.

It was great to finally meet you!

Charlotte said...

For those of us who have lost beloved fish (Oh Black Spot! How prettily you waved your fins at me!) it's hard to laugh...

(Actually, although Black Spot was, in fact, the smartest and most personality-endowed goldfish I ever owned, and I did mourn his pasing, I've gotten over it)

I wish I could have been there!

Alex said...

Alas, I wish I had been there, it all sounds like so much fun.
But I was happy to hear next year's KidLitCon will be in NYC.

Deb A. Marshall said...

Love how you shared your time there! Up close and personal....makes me want to go even more. Thanks for sharing!

Liz B said...

Charlotte, the first, doomed fish came with no name. The second, surviving fish came with a name.

I am convinced that has something to do with Fish going belly up, and with Nicole still happily swimming.

Anne Levy said...

I didn't request a fish because I was so hungry, I probably would've eaten it. Next year, I do KidLit Con while NOT dieting so I can scarf down actual food and wine. Especially wine. So good seeing you! We'll do this next year, for sure.