Georgia Children’s Lit. Conference 2017

The book award winner this year was Natalie Lloyd for A Snicker of Magic and the picturebook winner was David Biedrzycki (ba-Dree-key) for Breaking News: Bear Alert!

The first session was Natalie Lloyd giving a talk on “Finding Narnia: From Midnight Gulch to Middle Earth (and back again!)” She talked about giving talks at schools and being knocked out that much of the stuff she loved reading growing up is still popular. Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Dahl, Babysitters Club, Goosebumps, Oz and more. She was delightful. I love when authors are super fans. Her favorite “squee!” moment was when she found out Gilbert Ford would be doing her covers.

The first breakout session I attended was for Annette Laing, historian, historical novelist and frequent school presenter. She is super engaging and discussed how really engaging history through historical fiction is more important than ever in this time of “alternative facts.” “You can get more history into kids with fiction than any other way.” She discussed the importance of this kind of work for helping develop empathy. And she has a wonderful Scottish accent!

The next big author to speak was Kelly Bingham, “It Takes a Village.” What she means by that is that it takes a village of helpers to get books published. She had help from other authors, discouragement from a terrible editor and inspiration from a great editor. She worked for Disney as a storyboarder for many films. She said that the most valuable thing she learned was that you’ll probably end up revising out up to 90% of your original draft and that’s probably a good thing. I only knew her from her amazingly fun Moose picture books and had no idea about her YA books. She wrote a YA novel in verse about a surfer girl who gets an arm bit off by a shark. Then a real live surfer girl got her arm bit off by a shark, so she put this manuscript she’d been working on for years into a drawer. Later, another author convinced her to show it to his editor. She showed it to one other first and he was completely discouraging and unprofessional. Later, she showed it to the editor the other author mentioned and it’s been published and won a bunch of praise and awards and she has realized how terrible that first guy was. I would have invited him to every award ceremony if it had been me.

The Moose books came from reading to her little boy and loving meta-fiction like There’s a Monster at the End of this Book and him wanting a better ABC book than he was finding at the library at the time. She said it on;y too eight year for her to sell Z is for Moose and she knows it’s Paul O. Zelinsky’s illustrations that really make the book.

Duncan Tonatiuh and David Biedrzycki spoke on Saturday. I attended both of those but Duncan’s artwork is amazing and kind of speaks for itself and I’ll have much more to say about David in the next post.

Next years winners are Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio and Christian Robinson and Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar.

ALA Midwinter Report

This will be a short report because something came up I will be blogging about later which prevented me from attending for more than one day.

The ALA summer and “midwinter” conferences are always huge and always in a different big city. Not being one to travel much, I’ve been waiting many years for one of them to come back to Atlanta. It was exciting to be there and I learned quite a bit but if you are not WAY into the youth media awards (Newbery, Caldecott, etc.) on Monday then it’s probably not worth it for you. But that awards ceremony is something to see. Or so I hear. I couldn’t make that this time.

I did, however, get to “walk the floor” and see some cool stuff. More than half of the huge exhibition hall was technology stuff. Not that interesting for me as a school librarian. Most of that was for people at my county level who decide on things for the whole district (or public or university libraries, that kind of thing). But the Library of Congress area sure was cool.

The other side was all the publisher stuff and that’s what drew me in. Tons of upcoming books, Advance Reader Copies, reps to tell you about them and even some authors and illustrators dropping in to sign books.

I got to meet Nathan Hale of the Hazardous Tales series! I even got some signed books from him and got super librarian Andy Plemmons to get a photo of us to show my students.

I got to take pictures of books on display and share them with authors who couldn’t make it. Sage Blackwood and David Lubar are two I follow on social media that appreciated seeing their books being promoted.

I got to meet Library Goddess Ms. Yingling! She lives in a small town in Ohio very similar to the one I did. We both became school librarians. We both have eerily similar dogs. But her blog is about a thousand times more awesome. She reads EVERYTHING she might or has bought for her library and reviews most of it on her blog or on Goodreads.

I got to see, but not talk to, amazing book editor Nancy Paulsen. She’s one of the best.

I felt a bit guilty not being able to participate in the Women’s March so I bought a tshirt from the wonderful Harry Potter Alliance for my daughter that says, “Hex the Patriarchy!” One of my favorite things I say that day was a very big, burly security guard wearing a pink pussy hat knitted for the march.

I spent most of the time in the Book Buzz theater listening to publisher reps go over their upcoming titles for the spring and summer and highlighting some of their favorites. As always, there is some amazing stuff coming out!

I may post about some of those titles soon. I chatted with Ms. Yingling about blogging (she does it constantly, I do it…periodically). She said it’d be nice to have someone blogging about all the upcoming titles to look out for. I don’t think I can be the one to do that consistently, but I can do it for this and will try to keep up with at least what I and my students and staff are looking forward to as I look ahead for my consideration lists.

I also got some great ARCs I hope to review soon (as soon as I get them back from My Lovely Bride and my daughter).

I won’t go over the winners here. There are plenty of places for that and like I said, I had to miss that event. But I can tell you that there was a buzz about John Lewis coming and his March books. The third volume won FOUR awards. Before all of this hoo ha came up in the news recently, my book club had already slated us to read the first volume to discuss in…March of course. My girls got me the boxed set of all three for Christmas. I’m waiting to read them but will try to soon so maybe my daughter can read them as well and join us for the discussion in March. Would love to hear her take.

I’ve read on Twitter that at one of the airports, as John Lewis walked down the concourses there where what was described as “rolling standing ovations” for the great man. And he didn’t even have to pay anyone to do that!

GA Children’s Book Award Conference 2015

I attended the GCBA Conference last week but have been too busy catching up to post on it before today.

The authors and illustrators featured were Mike Artell, Shonto Begay, Clare Vanderpool, Shannon Nees, and Jennifer Sattler. I’ll only be sharing some notes on Vanderpool and Sattler.

Clare Vanderpool won the Newbery Award for Moon Over Manifest and her most recent book is Navigating Early. My daughter is in 6th grade and has to read books in different genres for her Language Arts class.  For her “adventure” pick we chose Navigating Early so I had just read that which was cool.  I actually cheated a little because I arrived to the main hall where she was speaking early.  She was there setting up her slide show and reviewing her notes.  I went up, introduced myself and got her to sign a copy of Moon Over Manifest to my daughter and chatted a bit.  So I avoided the huge signing line later.  She gave a fun and intelligent talk.  The next book she’s working on will take place in the American South.

Jennifer Sattler was there to receive the Georgia Children’s Picture Book Award for her book Sylvie and give a talk.  It’s a meaningful award since the students actually choose the book.  She was a fun speaker who started off by saying she was probably the only one who didn’t dream of being an author or illustrator as a child.  She wanted to be a dentist! But a high school class got her into art.  She ended up a painting and drawing professor but when she had kids and they began reading together she realized there were two important sides of herself: the painter and the goofball.  Inspired by books like Olivia and I Lost My Bear she got into writing and painting children’s books.  This allows her to satisfy both sides of her personality and more than ten books.

This is may favorite conference every year and every year someone is surprised to hear I pay for it out of my own pocket. But I think it’s important to keep up with children’s literature, to hang out with other teachers and librarians as well as academics and hear what’s going on in their classrooms and libraries.  Sometimes I get something out of the breakout sessions and sometimes I don’t but I always get something out of the talks given by all the amazing children’s authors and illustrators and all the educators I meet over the weekend.  Plus it’s fun to be there when they announce all the new picture book and chapter book nominees!