What can I say that hasn't already been written about the 1st Annual Kidlit Conference? I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful folks. If I was surprised by anything at all, it was just how nice, outgoing, and friendly everyone was. Yes, even the self-described introverts had something to say and offer. I wish I had time to talk more extensively with some bloggers, but our time together was too short. Here are some of the things I saw and heard this weekend.
My plane was a few hours late on Friday night. By the time I arrived, most folks were in bed or out for ice cream. I headed to the bar and joined a small group of authors. Gwenda and Michol talked about writing and the MFA program at Vermont College that they are both enrolled in. Funny, funny Ellen Klages told a story about once seeing a trailer full of zebras on the New York State thruway. (Wouldn't THAT make an interesting story?!) Greg shared a few tantalizing scraps of information about the book he's working on (you know, just enough to make me want to know much more).
I woke Saturday morning to the chorus of It's a Hard Knock Life from the Annie Musical, followed immediately by a rap song. Go figure! I know that rap samples all kinds of music, but this was new to me. So, you've all guessed by now that I don't listen to rap, but I had to at least look up the song. It's Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) by Jay-Z.
The best quote of the conference goes to Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy. In one session (was it the Cybils panel?) she mentioned a friend once told her that "The plural of anecdote is not evidence." Brilliant. I constantly hear from education naysayers who use data points of 2 or 3 to make a case for wholesale change in our educational system. I plan to use this line as often as possible.
From 4-5 on Saturday afternoon our meeting room was slightly rearranged for a Meet the Author event. Esme Raji Codell had the brilliant idea to supply us all with posters for the authors to sign. Here's mine.
Every author was gracious and happy to talk about his/her latest project. I was especially thrilled to speak to a few authors who are or were teachers. I also chatted with Matthew Cordell, the illustrator of The Moon is La Luna, a cute book of poems in English and Spanish. He gave me a copy to add to my teaching library. Very cool.
Dinner was nice, followed by a raffle and prizes, a walk to Starbucks for coffee (not for me, I drank hot chocolate), and back to the lobby for conversation. Sunday morning included breakfast at IHOP and a wait in the lobby for the shuttle to the airport. While hanging out with the lucky folks who went to brunch at Esme's place (I'm sooooo disappointed I missed it), the lovely Laini Taylor gave me one of her pieces of art. It is gracing my bookshelf at home, but may soon join my Jane Austen action figure at work. Here's what her beautiful piece looks like.
All in all, I had an incredibly good time. I also learned that artistic and literary folks wear the best t-shirts! I was thrilled to talk teaching with Mary Lee, books with Camille, Cybils with Eisha, writing and SCBWI with Sara, anything and everything with Greg, academia with Kelly, and so many others that I'm going to feel bad for not naming them and/or leaving them out. For sure the couple who wins the Energizer bunny award is Mark and Andrea, who kept going, and going, and going. If you don't believe me, just take a look at their pictures.
I must thank Robin Brande here for dreaming big and crazy and then having the courage to see it through for all of us. If it weren't for all the hard work she put into this, it never would have gone so well. Thanks Robin for making this dream a reality for everyone!
Next year this shindig will be in Portland, OR. I hope to be there, and will look forward to renewing and making new acquaintances. Let's just hope all those Boston fans (man there were a lot them) won't be angry with me when my beloved Indians knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs! Until next year . . .