The wake up. There aren’t many things that will get me up this early, but the 12th annual Children’s Literature Breakfast put on by Anderson’s Bookshop is one of them.
The plan: wake up, get on the road, meet up with colleague Niki Barnes (@daydreamreader), and carpool to the event, which takes place every year in the Chicagoland area.
Breakfast #1 was Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. Not quite as good as the Banana Nut Cheerios I had last year, but they did the trick.
The first of many coffees. To all the coffee aficianados out there, I apologize. Folger’s French Roast.
This was on my table as I was eating. Jon J. Muth was going to be one of the featured speakers, and I realized I hadn’t read his latest. I liked it.
Fast-forward three hours. Here we are.
Thanks to John Schumacher, we got good seats.
At that point everyone got to eating. Here’s a shot of breakfast #2. Notice the doughnut. I love any breakfast where you can just throw a doughnut in as an afterthought.
Each year someone different draws the program cover. This year is was Stick Dog author Tom Watson. He went with an homage to Dogs Playing Poker.
One of the fun things about the breakfast is that an author or illustrator sits at each table. After each keynote speaker, they stand up and move to the next table. The first guest for us was Laurie Keller.
First at the mic was Becky Anderson, welcoming everyone and setting the stage for the day. Then she introduced the first speaker, Creepy Carrots! author Aaron Reynolds.
The guy brought the house down with his performance of how a picture book gets made when the author and illustrator never meet. He had crowd participation. He had “retro J.Lo hats” (not pictured). He had bags full of fake money. So basically, you couldn’t ask for more.
Next up, the fine folks at Anderson’s talked about new books they are excited about. This never fails to make me want to buy all of them. And, the smart business people they are, the next room just happens to be set up as a giant book store.
Anytime you get a group of librarians together, a raffle is a must. This year the big prizes were two directors chairs – one signed by all the authors and illustrators in attendance, and the other a one of a kind chair hand-painted by Arnie the Doughnut creator Laurie Keller. It was incredible.
While I didn’t become a librarian to enjoy nearly empty men’s rooms at professional events/conferences (as compared to the long lines at the ladies room), I did appreciate it.
When I got back to my table, I was sitting two places down from The Fonz. Henry Winkler was there to promote Here’s Hank, his new early chapter books series with Lin Oliver. He was as kind as could be. Everywhere the guy went a line formed.
Next up to the mic Maggie Stiefvater. She was in the house (and out of the YA world) to talk about her contribution to the new Spirit Animals series from Scholastic.
Jon J. Muth took the stage next. If ever there was a person who is the embodiment of the art they make, it’s Muth. Calm and placid, Muth described his journey from comics to children’s books before busting out the ink and huge brush for a bit of spontaneous artwork.
We interrupt this blog post to bring you a Henry Winkler/Aaron Reynolds selfie.
If you know me, you know that I love author/illustrator look-alikes. The photogorapher at the event immediately struck me as a dead ringer for Aaron Becker (he of the Caldecott Honor Journey). This let to a short quest where I was trying to take the guy’s picture without being noticed.
Got it. For comparison, this is Aaron Becker:
Laurie Keller got up on stage next and charmed the crowd with a bit of her back story mixed with crowd participation. We took the Tooth Pledge and sung Take Me Out for Some Bowling from The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut: Bowling Alley Bandit. The room was full of good singers.
And next: Winkler.
He and Lin Oliver closed the morning by talking about their collaboration on the Hank Zipzer series. You could tell they were good friends. They had a playful back and forth as they talked about their lives and work. Mr. Winkler read to us, which led to this awkward moment on Twitter:
What to do after a morning full of children’s lit? More children’s lit. We headed over to Anderson’s Bookshop, thanks to the gift-card giving kindness of Margie Culver.
As far as holding up to your head, this book doesn’t work as well as The Lion and the Mouse, but not bad.
A good way to end a good day. I’ll be back next year.