Blogging from NCTE: Day One 1/2

Our NCTE publisher dinner at Philadelphia’s Le Castagne was one of those nights a starry-eyed author never forgets. Friendly, book-loving people from NCTE, the International Reading Association, and Anderson’s Bookshop joined us at a big table behind a curtain, so we had our own little dining room. Since Jenny Moss and I were the guest authors, our school & library publicists broughts copies of our books for everyone that we signed after dinner.

Meet the fabulous Katie Fee (left) and Beth Eller (right), who work tirelessly at events like NCTE to get books into teachers’ hands. They are amazing.

When Beth were telling me about this dinner, she said, "I think we have you sitting next to Linda Rief. She’s an English teacher who –"

"I’m having dinner with Linda Rief?!"

I knew who she was. Linda is a rock star, as far as I am concerned. She writes teacher resource books that have helped to shape my teaching, and she co-founded NCTE’s journal for middle school teachers. She’s been one of my role models since I started teaching 14 years ago. She is also kind and smart and funny, and I loved visiting with her about our teaching/writing experiences.

I also got to sit by Bridget Hilferty from the International Reading Association, who told me about all the work being done on the IRA’s ReadWriteThink website, an amazing teacher resource. Watch for the newly redesigned website in December!

And I sat across from Becky Anderson Wilkins of Anderson’s Bookstore, who is being honored with an Intellectual Freedom award at NCTE this morning for her work promoting First Amendment Rights. She helped defend Sherman Alexie in the midst of a challenge to THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN and is one of my new heroes.

It was an amazing evening, talking books with people who love them so much. And the food was beautiful and delicious (I wanted to take pictures but restrained myself because it was a really nice restaurant, and snapping photos of the gnocci and Dover sole probably would have been a no-no.) But trust me, it was lovely.

Today, I’m off to breakfast and then a signing at Bloomsbury/Walker from 9:30-10:30, followed by a full day of author activities before my flight home late tonight. I may have to leave some of my clothes behind to fit all the ARCs I picked up yesterday. A girl has to have priorities, right?

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