After a weekend of meeting librarians and authors, reminiscing about favorite libraries and geeking out over new books, the BookPage crew returned from the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans on Monday night. I snagged way too many review copies for my carry-on suitcase (seriously: I had to check on the way home), but as we all know: Too many books is a good problem to have.
Here are my favorite moments from the conference:
BookPage had a booth, and countless librarians and library patrons dropped by to say hello and tell us why they look forward to receiving BookPage at the first of every month. My favorite was the librarian who told us, jokingly, that she wants to ban one patron from reading BookPage because of the sheer number of holds at he places after reading a new issue. (By the way, if you’re a librarian and you don’t receive BookPage, read about how you can sign up for a free two-month subscription.)
We had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Angleberger—author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back—at the Abrams booth. Not only was Tom a funny and enthusiastic author/illustrator, but he also created an Origami Yoda for us on camera . . . and staged an Origami Yoda vs. Darth Paper fight for us. Can’t beat that.
In honor of the publication of Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers, Scholastic held a huge party for Dav Pilkey. Red capes were provided and bartenders whipped up “tinkle-tinis.” Pilkey showed a video about his process, in which he explained that he incorporates misspellings and mistakes into his work because he wants kids to know it’s okay to not be "good" at the whole drawing and writing thing—as long as you’re doing it for fun.
Lauren Myracle, author of Shine, the TTYL books, the Luv Ya Bunches books and more, told us about how ashamed she was the first time she popped up on the most frequently-challenged books list—but now she sees it as a point of pride. (You go, girl!)
BookPage hosted a table at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet, and we gave away seats to librarians. The people at our table were a fascinating bunch—they had worked everywhere from a school library, a public library, a community college library to a prison library. We all had a lovely evening, and the one word that first comes to mind to describe speeches by Erin E. Stead, Claire Vanderpool and Tomie dePaola was “heartfelt.” I don’t think an eye was dry after Erin’s speech (A Sick Day for Amos McGee was her first children’s book), and Claire brought the house down with jokes like: “People asked me if winning the Newbery was like having a baby. I said: Winning the Newbery was like having a baby . . . if you didn’t know you were pregnant.”
We interviewed a grand total of 14 authors at ALA—including Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler, Maureen Johnson, Francisco X. Stork, Maggie Stiefvater and more (stay tuned for videos). At the end of every interview, we asked each author to tell us a favorite library memory, and some of the answers almost made me tear up. Although we had a wonderful time rubbing shoulders with authors and indulging in a beignet or two, we never forgot what the conference was all about: libraries. I don’t think there was an author there who didn’t, in some way, credit his or her success to a librarian.
Did you make it to ALA this year? What was your favorite part?