I traveled to Maine for the Maine State Libraries Reading Round Up this week. One thing that made the trip special was the lovely bed & breakfast where I stayed, Maple Hill Farms. When I checked in, I decided to take a walk and asked the innkeeper about the animals in the farm yard.
“Is it okay if I say hi to the llamas? Are they friendly?”
“Oh, very much so!” he assured me. “They love people. Go right up to the fence, and they’ll come running over to say hello. They’ll want to sniff you, and they usually give kisses, too.”
So I went up to the fence and talked with the llamas a little. I said hello. I asked how their day had been going. They did not come running over to meet and greet and sniff and kiss me. They did this:
I am still not sure if the llamas simply didn’t like me, or if this was a joke the innkeeper plays and he likes to look out the window and laugh at people being snubbed by the llamas.
The warmth of the teachers and librarians at the conference more than made up for the lack of llama love, though. The Reading Round Up is a great event with hundreds of public and school librarians and teachers — book people, through and through. This was the room where I gave my keynote talk…
I started my speech with a story that only true book people could understand. We have a LOT of bookshelves at our house, but somehow, they are always overflowing, so books are also stacked on all of our living room tables, the fireplace, and often the floor. From time to time, I have to honor my husband’s pleas to clear out a few of them, so I weed out a bag of titles for the library book sale. The trouble is…I also love to purchase books at the library sale, and the week before the Maine conference, I found one of those Best American Poetry of 2001 books for fifty cents. (That is less than a penny a poem. How do you say no to that?) I bought the book and brought it with me to read before bed.
When I opened it and started reading, I recognized one of the poems, and my face lit up the way it does when I see a beloved old friend at the store. “Oh, it’s you! “Snow Day” by Billy Collins…how have you been?” I turned a few more pages and thought, “Wow! I know this poem, too! And this one! And this one…and…” Then I closed the book, took a closer look, and found “Messner” written on the inside cover. I bought back my own donated book from the library sale.
Stop laughing… I swear it called out to me from the shelf. It must have missed me.
The book people in the Reading Round Up audience understood perfectly, of course, and I loved talking books with everyone after my talk. Here I am with some members of the conference committee…
…and with some members of the Maine Student Book Award Committee.
My Scholastic mystery CAPTURE THE FLAG is one of their titles for kids to vote on next year in the 2013-14 Maine Student Book Awards. My books have been on a number of these state lists, but it’s not often that I get to meet the people who choose the books to say thank you, so this was a treat.
Many thanks, Maine teachers and librarians, for making me a part of your Reading Round Up this year! I loved spending the day with you, and your readers are so very lucky to have you.