In the Land of The Mouse

Writing this from The Anaheim Hilton. On a warm evening in Southern California. This is a strange land and I still feel a total stranger. The reason for me to be here? The many exciting things happening at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference. Among these exciting things:

The 2009 Children’s Notable Books Committee has met for the past three days, discussing the merits and concerns of 59 books for children from the Spring 2008 offering. I am so pleased to be on this committee, with ten other thoughtful readers and critics who really understand books and especially books for children. Here is the list of the books in excel form that we discussed from the ALSC Web Site.

The interesting and often illuminating conversations: with authors, illustrators, editors, critics and other librarians: Candace Fleming, Orson Scott Card, John Green, Peter Sis, Eric Rohmann, Linda Sue Park, Dinah Stevenson, Laura Godwin, Brenda Bowen, Anne Scwartz, Vicky Smith, Nina Lindsay, Monica Edinger, Jonathan Hunt, Elise DeGuiseppi, Martha Walke, Eliza Dresang, and many many others.

Of course, there was the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet to celebrate this year’s award winners and honorees. Anyone who attended this year’s Banquet would probably agree with me that the two speeches were magical, all done without the help of Mouse Ears or a Fairy’s Wand. Here’s a detailed blog entry by Wendie Old about the evening. Thanks to Tim Jones, Marketing Director at Henry Holt, I was seated with the coolest people in children’s publishing: poets Nikki Giovanni and Anita Hope Smith, author/illustrator Laurie Keller, author Mary E. Pearson, publisher and author Laura Godwin, and editor Christy Ottaviano (who now has her own imprint!)

Some other personal highlights:

  • I want to publicly congratulate on a job so brilliantly done by Karen Breen and Nina Lindsay, chairs of Caldecott and Newbery Committees in their introduction of each title. It was a pleasure to listen to their descriptions of the books. And both of them looked so beautiful on stage, too!
  • Brian’s “starry shirt” and silver boots were “the talk of the banquet hall!” I had the chance to capture both in pictures.
  • It was wonderful to hear Eeyore’s Books for Children mentioned by Brian. He worked there. I did, as well: Brian on the West Side store and I on the East Side. (And he wasn’t exaggerating when describing the somewhat demanding and difficult patron, either.)

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