I had a fantastic time in New Orleans at the American Library Association (ALA) conference this past weekend and I promised you pictures so here we go. Mr. Richards and I ate lots of good food while we were there, including these beignets (ben-YAYs) which are square, french doughnuts buried under about a pound of powdered sugar. The first author I saw was Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of books. Number 6 will be published in the fall! It's called "Cabin Fever." Since that book isn't out yet, I had him sign two other books:After the signing, Mr. Kinney gave a talk in which he described how his life has changed since Diary of a Wimpy Kid has gotten so popular. He said that in spite of the books being best sellers and having been made into movies, he still has his day job and doesn't get recognized much in his own home town. He also said that he'd like to write four more Wimpy Kid books, making the series 10 books in total, and after that, he doesn't know what he'll do. Here is a link to what he does for his day job.
The next author I saw was Jennifer Holm, author of the Babymouse series of graphic novels and three time Newbery Honoree. She actually lives in the bay area and I saw her again today at Hicklebee's. She is a delightful person. I attended a talk in which she and two other Newbery Honorees participated. The topic of discussion was what it's like when your first book earns a Newbery Honor. The other authors were Ingrid Law (Savvy) and Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky). I really enjoyed listening to these authors describe what it was like to "get the call", how it changed their lives, and the pressure they felt when writing their second book. The next talk I saw was given by William Joyce. William Joyce is an author and illustrator that I have admired for many years. I used to read his books (Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures With the Family Lizardo, A Day With Wilbur Robinson, Santa Calls) to my daughters when they were little and these books are still among my all time favorites. More recently, Mr. Joyce has worked on animated films such as Meet the Robinsons and Robots and the television show Rolie Polie Olie. Mr. Joyce talked at length about his current project called The Gaurdians and it includes picture books, chapter books, and a feature film.
The inspiration for the project came from Mr. Joyce's own childhood and that of his children. SPOILER ALERT: If you are a child of a certain age, you may not want to read further. Some things, once they've been seen, cannot be unseen. Skip down to the next picture. You have been warned. As a child, Mr. Joyce believed everything he heard and saw. He believed that King Kong was real and felt sad for the giant ape at the end of the movie. He felt equally sad when he learned that giant apes don't really exist. This experience was repeated when he learned the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. When he had children of his own, he decided that he wanted their childhoods to be as magical as possible for as long as possible and so he went to great lengths to leave evidence of visitations by not only Santa, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy, but also Leprechauns, Jack Frost, and the Man in the Moon, mostly in the form of footprints and glitter. During this time, Mr. Joyce pondered the origins of these characters and upon researching them, found that they did not have satisfying mythologies, not the way comic book super heroes do. But kids don't believe that super heroes are real. Mr. Joyce wanted to combine the kind of mythology that Superman or Batman has with the belief that children have in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. For the last twenty years, Mr. Joyce has been working out this mythology by asking his children what they think and creating stories with them. The results can be seen in the first book in the series "The Man in the Moon." This first book sets the stage for the rest of the series in which the Man in the Moon, or Mim, gathers a team of Gaurdians to protect children from nightmares. Sadly, Mr. Joyce lost his daughter to illness last year. He was able to read this first book to her before she passed and she told him that people who read this book to their children will become guardians themselves. I read the book this morning and it is absolutely beautiful. The story is sweet and the illustrations are lush. I'm very excited to share this book with the Marshall Lane kids and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books. Here is a picture of Mr. Joyce signing a copy of Man in the Moon for me. I've got my squeee face on.
Well, I'm only about halfway through this and I had to stop and fix dinner (and eat it!) which means I'm now in evening mode so I think I'm going to stop here and finish this tomorrow. Lots more pictures and stuff for you then. Good night!