|Yes, I really only took pictures of the things that interested|
me at the RISD art museum. Namely, textiles (and a few
ceramics and some Impressionists)
Anyways, I left early Thursday morning for a complicated travel scheme of driving, bus, and plane, then arrived Thursday afternoon and was kindly picked up by Charlotte and met up with various old Cybils friends. I also sat down and went through the guide to Providence and the conference (yes, normally I would have done this way in advance, but remember how I said everything went wombat-up? Yeah. I shoved some stuff in a bag the night before and asked my neighbor to watch my plants and that was as much preparation as I did.)
Keynote with LeUyen Pham
Yes, I enjoyed this keynote - Pham is amazing, funny, reflective, and just interesting. She talked about her own experiences as a child and a reader, how her Vietnamese heritage affected her, and her interactions with librarians and teachers. She also talked about her viewpoints changed and how that was reflected in her art.
Anita Sanchez (Itch, Rotten, Leaflets three, let it be)
Richard Ho (Red Rover book on Mars coming out next fall)
Jason Viola (Science Comics: Polar Bears)
Sara Levine (Bone by Bone, Tooth by Tooth, Fossil by fossil, Flower talk)
Heidi Fiedler (Know-nonsense guides, editor)
Paula Willey (moderator)
Lots of insight into the process of nonfiction picture books, ideas for programming etc.
This was really good, very practical. I wrote up a lot of detailed notes I'm giving to my staff who do instagram, primarily for our teens, to hopefully bump our teen circulation.
Not just the Newbery
As the presenters noted, there isn't a comprehensive list of children's literature awards - it's just too wide a field. However, if you're interested in awards affiliated with ALA try this list (participation varies from volunteering to running for election, but almost all require membership in ALA and physical attendance at several conferences. Ergo, expensive.) State awards are here, and I have an abbreviated list of the awards I use most often here.
Marketing picture books
Traci Sorell (We are grateful)
Michelle Cusolito (Flying deep)
Sarah Lynne Reul (Breaking news, and some lift-the-flap books that I might look at)
Jeanette Bradley (Love Mama - hadn't seen this before, very cute penguin book)
Christy Mihaly (Hey Hey Hay - I snapped that up the minute I saw it last year!)
This was really directed more at authors, talking about how to market your books and navigate your first year as a debut author, but I thought it might have some great ideas for marketing picture books and I did get some excellent suggestions for displays and promoting picture books. I also appreciated that Michelle Cusolito pointed out that you can't just walk into a library or bookstore and expect them to start promoting your work - you have to build relationships before hand. To be brutally honest, when somebody walks in and says "I've written a children's book" my first instinct is to run and hide, and assume it's probably crap. On the other hand, I have two patrons that I've known for many years, who are regular library patrons, read extensively in the children's area, and are interested in writing children's books. I'm happy to chat with them and will certainly promote their books if they get to that stage because I know they can take criticism and are working at their craft. Plus, I really, really want that cute picture book with photos...
LGBTQ positive picture books
Megan Dowd Lambert (Real sisters pretend)
Andrea Loney (Bunnybear)
Christian Trimmer (Teddy's favorite toy, Snow pony, also an editor)
Jeanette Bradley (moderator)
The basic idea of this was that now that GLBTQ families are more mainstream, there need to be more mainstream picture books. There were a number of good examples of titles and discussion of what needs to be seen going forward. One thing that interested me was that this panel really typified the divide I've seen between urban/rural areas and different parts of the country. The mainstream acceptance that many of the people on this panel have seen/experienced is certainly not my experience in my small, midwestern town. Although it is more accepting in some ways (I've never had a challenge for a book with LGBTQ content and we have a small Pride fair in the summer) it's certainly not mainstream and absolutely not reflected in the attitudes of the average patron or staff. But I didn't want to harsh their buzz so I didn't bring this up. Also, Andrea Loney has absolutely awesome style (I got to talk to her later, not about literature but about hair...) and she looked fabulous every time I saw her at the conference.
Keynote with Varian Johnson
This focused mainly on being a writer and working through the difficulties anyone in a challenging profession faces.
Debbi Michiko Florence (Jasmine Toguchi and has a new series coming this summer)
Kara Lareau (Infamous Ratsos)
Megan Frazer Blakemore (middle grade but has a chapter book series coming)
David A. Kelly (Baseball park mysteries and MVP)
Jarrett Lerner (moderator and author of EngiNerds)
This was a panel I was really looking forward to. It was very interesting to hear how the different authors approached their chapter book series and I feel I have been remiss in not reading more Megan Frazer Blakemore and also I bet she is a really awesome school librarian! Hearing the different approaches was helpful in narrowing down how and why I'm choosing chapter books, a pretty big selection area for me.
What makes a good comic/graphic novel
Alex Graudins (science comics the brain)
Laura M. Jimenez (academic)
Admittedly, at this point I was just automatically attending anything with LeUyen Pham, she was just that good. There were some great points made about how kids read visually as opposed to textually, some good talking points I can use to talk to teachers and parents who are reluctant for their kids to read graphic novels, and then some really interesting views on how to read graphic novels more deeply - I think that will be a major talking point as well.
Book Blogger Salon
A bunch of bloggers hung out and chatted. The basic takeaway was that blogging is primarily a resource or home base to point people back to - if you want the social aspect of it, people are on instagram or twitter. I refuse to tweet, I just can't add that, so I accept that my blogs will gradually fade into the obscurity from whence they came, but since I have always written them as a resource, first for myself and then for other librarians, I'm ok with them not being a social media point.
Reaching Readers part I
Anika Denise (Planting stories most recently, also she has one coming out with Ruth Cummins)
Debbie Kovacs (editor)
Barbara Fisch (publicist - Blueslip Media)
Josh Funk (How to code a sandcastle)
Lee Wind (moderator and author)
This part of the session focused on reaching readers from the viewpoint of authors, publishers, and editors. I still think that all booktalks should be done by librarians. Editors just aren't good at them! Not if they're trying to grab kids' attention anyways.
Reaching Readers part II
Sam Musher (school librarian)
Melissa Fox (bookstore)
Karen Yingling (school librarian)
This was a panel I was really looking forward to and I was disappointed that Cindy Rodriguez, of Latinx in Kid Lit, was unable to be there. However, one cannot be disappointed when faced with the indefatigable Ms. Yingling and her riotous energy. I strongly suspect her of getting up before everyone else to run several miles and read a couple books. Lots of great suggestions on promoting books to readers, finding the right books, and some great discussions about diverse books and their readers.
The Frightful Fantastic
Tui T. Sutherland (Wings of Fire, editor of Warriors)
Antoine Revoy (a new graphic novel called Animus)
David Neilsen (Dr. Fell and the playground of doom)
S. R. Toliver (academic)
Paula Willey (moderator - she's a librarian and writes a blog about horror)
This was the panel that all my book club kids will be agog to hear about! So, yes kids, that was really Tui Sutherland, she was very funny and friendly, and I got two books signed for summer reading prizes. Otherwise, there was a really interesting take on "horror" or just scary elements in books and how the authors view them. It was especially interesting to see the different ways they view their audience, with some thinking of scary stories as a "safe" place for kids while others, who work with kids who have no safe place, see them as a way to work out what the kids are dealing with in everyday life. Also, to my young readers, Tui Sutherland said she was never going to kill off Kinkajou and there is a new book coming out this summer and the next graphic adaptation next fall.
And that was it! It was a pretty intense two days of sessions and there were also a lot of authors there who weren't on panels. A couple I chatted with or wanted to but missed were
Rebecca Caprara (Magic of Melwick Orchard and she has a middle grade novel in verse coming)
Anna Meriano (Love sugar magic - I wanted to go to her panel, but Ami went so I got her notes)
Barbara Dee (I missed out on telling her that the kids love her books!)
I had a few hours on Sunday so I walked around a little of Providence with Ami and then went to the RISD art museum with Barbara. Then taxi, plane, bus, car, and finally home! Now I have the week of spring break off and I am spring cleaning...