I spent the past few days at the International Reading Association Convention in San Antonio, and after some travel troubles on the way there, it was a wonderful weekend full of great book-talk with amazing teachers and librarians.
I spoke on two panels – a fun Saturday session about mysteries with fellow author April Henry, and a Sunday morning workshop on research in nonfiction, biographies, and fiction. Here’s the SlideShare link for my mysteries presentation. Here’s the link for the research in fiction presentation.
And here’s a photo of our research panel!
From left to right: Mike Wolfe from the History Channel show American Pickers and the co-author of KID PICKERS; Georgia Bragg, author of HOW THEY CROAKED; tireless educator and fantastic facilitator Donna Knoell; Steve Sheinkin, author of BOMB; me; and Andrea Davis Pinkney, author of SIT-IN: HOW FOUR FRIENDS STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN.
Saturday night, I attended a truly lovely dinner with the amazing Scholastic Book Clubs team. We were seated outside, and the restaurant passed out blankets when it got a little chilly. I wasn’t all that cold, but I accepted one anyway. How often do you get offered a blanket when you’re out to eat?
I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with the Book Clubs people on a number of occasions now, and you simply won’t find a group of people who love reading, books, and kids more. I love being around people who are passionate about what they do. And they know how to laugh, too. Here I am with Liz Kokot, who works with Book Clubs…
I met Liz at last year’s Scholastic Book Clubs IRA dinner and was so happy to talk books with her again over our key lime pie.
I also got to sit next to Frances Graham, who directs national fundraising for Book Trust, an amazing organization that provides books for kids from low-income families.
Book Trust kids get to make their own selections from Scholastic Book Club flyers each month — something I remember doing as an elementary school student. I still remember the way the magic marker would bleed through the pages when I circled the books I liked, so it makes me smile to think of so many more students having that opportunity.
The IRA Convention Center itself was a whirlwind of activity. While I failed in my attempts to track down MARTY MCGUIRE illustrator Brian Floca in the exhibit hall, I did find some Nerdy Book Club friends…including Colby Sharp…
…and Erica Perl, who only had time for a quick wave because she was signing WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU O.J. at the Follett booth and had a line seven million miles long. Seriously. I’m lucky she looked up to pose.
Other friends attended the conference vicariously, through their new and upcoming books. I can’t seem to stop myself from bouncing a little when I spot one of those, and inevitably, I get funny looks from the people running the publisher booths. I always point and say, “My friend wrote that book!” and then they understand. Here’s Linda Urban’s new book, THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING, on the banner at HMH…
…and Erin Dionne’s upcoming mystery, MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING.
Erin and I share an affinity for mysteries and art, and both of our upcoming mysteries have ties to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist, so we occasionally geek out over news stories like this one.
And of course, I signed copies of my own books at the convention, too. Scholastic had the new book in my Silver Jaguar Society Mysteries, HIDE AND SEEK. Quite a few teachers came by the Walker/Bloomsbury booth and told me they were sharing EYE OF THE STORM with the science teachers in their schools, which made me a very happy author. I also signed advance copies of my upcoming thriller WAKE UP MISSING (Sept. ’13) and the first copies of my August picture book, SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH. It’s always exciting – and a little scary, too – seeing copies of those brand new books disappear into tote bags and taken back to hotel rooms. The dwindling piles are such a visual reminder that a book that was just my story for so long belongs to readers now.
Many thanks to everyone who made IRA 2013 such a magical weekend – the organizers, the publishers who invited me to sign and worked out the details when my travel plans went astray (I’m looking at you, Emily Heddleson!), and most of all, the teachers and librarians working so hard to keep sharing stories with young readers.