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.