ALA Chicago – Day Three

I really meant to blog every night, but last night, after a full day on the exhibit floor, a trip up the Sears Tower, and then the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet, all I could do last night was climb the stairs to our room, take off my pointy shoes (how do some of you wear those every day?), and fall into bed after an amazing, amazing day.

It started with a moment I’ve been waiting for 28 years.

I met Judy Blume. JUDY BLUME!!!!!! Her signing was right before mine, so my daughter and I were the first ones in line. She and Beverly Cleary were my first favorite authors, and I remember reading FUDGE and ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET in the beanbag chair in my closet wondering what Judy Blume must be like. She is beautiful and delightful and kind, and I just about cried when I met her. Her books made me want to be an author, so having the opportunity to tell her so and say thank you was something I will never forget.

Then it was time for me to sign advance copies of THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z at the Walker/Bloomsbury Booth. My husband and kids acted as loyal members of the paparazzi and took lots of photographs.

Here’s the whole Bloomsbury/Walker crew!


Bloomsbury Editorial Director Michelle Nagler, me, Walker Publisher Emily Easton, School & Library Outreach Goddesses Katie Fee & Beth Eller

Thanks so much to everyone at Walker/Bloomsbury and to all the librarians and all my LJ friends who stopped by to say hello. It was great meeting so many people who work with kids & books every day, and seeing friends like , , , , , ,

made me feel so much more relaxed.

After my signing, we walked the exhibit floor for a while. Everywhere I looked, there were people whose work I’ve admired for years.


Pam Munoz Ryan signing with Brian Selznick

After we mailed a box of books home (they have a Post Office right there in the exhibits hall!), we headed out for some sightseeing.

The Sears Tower has a new attraction — the Airwalk, where you can step out onto a glass platform that hangs out over the edge of the skyscraper. The bottom is glass, too, so it feels like you’re just hovering there, 103 stories up.

By late afternoon, it was time to head to the Book Cart Drill Team Championships, which were as entertaining as Betsy Bird promised me they’d be. Here’s the team from Des Moines in action.

Then it was off to the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet, which was held downtown at the Sheraton, too far from the convention center to walk. Due to a bizarre series of events which included some poor planning on my part and hour-long waits for shuttle buses, I ended up paying $10 for a ride to the banquet in this.

The driver  (I’m convinced he was sent by the literary gods to keep me from missing my first ALA banquet) appeared in the convention center lobby offering rides to those of us stranded at the back of the cab line, so ten of us made quick friends with one another and piled into the limo.

At the hotel, I found Betsy Bird (Fuse #8) who had offered to let me join her table when we met at my writers’ retreat a few weeks ago. How fabulous is her outfit?!

She shared some of her literary tattoos. I ended up with Marla Frazee’s A COUPLE OF BOYS HAVE THE BEST WEEK EVER on my left arm.

The banquet itself was unforgettable. The winners’ speeches moved and inspired me. I’d try to recap, but I know I wouldn’t do them justice, so you should probably just listen when they’re shared online.

  also did a great writeup of Neil Gaiman’s speech on her blog.

After the banquet, you could stand in a receiving line to congratulate everyone.

At one point, someone ducked in front of Betsy to talk to Neil Gaiman, and I thought, "Hey! That guy’s cutting the line!" …until I saw that it was Sherman Alexie. Sherman Alexie can cut in front of me any day.

Today, we’re headed back to the exhibit hall for the morning. Then I’m meeting a friend for lunch & aiming for a two-museum afternoon before we head home tomorrow.

33 Replies on “ALA Chicago – Day Three

  1. Kate, thanks for the really great pictures (and thank your family paparazzi!) I nearly cried at the one of you and Judy Blume — it must have been just shock that kept you from tears. I loved seeing Betsy all dressed up.

    Have fun today, and I hope the Field Museum is on your list. You have got to say hello to Sue, the t-rex!

  2. Kate, I am LITERALLY sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Now they’re spilling onto my PJs.
    What a beautiful experience to be there. Thank you so much for sharing. All of it. Truly.
    xoxo,
    Kimberley
    PS. The pic of you standing on the glass made me gasp!

  3. Kate, may there be other rides in a *limo* to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet in your future–without you having to pay. ;>

    dian curtis regan

  4. What a cool experience! I’m so thrilled for you that you got to meet Judy Blume. Very exciting! It was great to meet you at your signing as well. My mom and I got so lost on the freeway, but we were admitted to the exhibit hall and ran right to your booth before you finished signing. I’m really looking forward to reading GIANNA Z. It sounds like so much fun! Hope you have fun today, and safe travels tomorrow!

  5. Wow–there’s so much awesomeness going on, it’s hard to know what to comment on! :>)

    I hope you gave Judy a copy of your book! (Sarah Dessen has a picture with her on her blog, too.)

    You were brave to step onto the Airwalk. I don’t handle heights well…

  6. Thanks for the day 3 update! Sounds like you had a wonderful time! And def meeting Judy is awesome! She spoke at our SCBWI conference a few years back. She is so cool and stylish and of course, she IS Jusy Blume:)!

  7. teen blogs

    I loved the pictures from CGO, especially you with Judy Blume–one of my all-time favorites, too. I have a question. I’ve just gotten an agent who will represent my edgy YA set in a domestic violence shelter which includes dating violence. I want to lurk and then hopefully join a teen blog re: domestic and/or dating violence/problems. Do you know of any? Thanks very much. phawriter@comcast.net.

  8. Re: teen blogs

    First of all, congratulations on signing with your agent. I don’t know of any blogs like the one you describe, but you might want to touch base with your local Stop Domestic Violence program or women’s shelter, and I bet the folks there could connect you with some resources. Best of luck with your book!