I recently visited New York to meet up with some college friends (see also: playing soccer, watching televised soccer, and watching live soccer) and figured Iâ€™d take the opportunity to visit excellent childrenâ€™s librarian and A Fuse #8 Production blogger Elizabeth Bird. Plans set, I made my way to the main branch of the New York Public Library with camera in hand. Surprisingly, I made it there from Queens without any form of hand-holding or step-by-step instructions. Given my sense of direction (or lack thereof) this was an amazing feat in itself. This is what I saw.
It turned out to be a great day. Sunny. Warm. Patience and Fortitude were lookinâ€™ real photogenic out on the front steps.
The Childrenâ€™s Center:
Betsy works in a dedicated childrenâ€™s room, separate from the rest of the library. Little known fact (to me, at least): the childrenâ€™s center has the only collection in the main branch that circulates. Titles in the other areas donâ€™t see the light of day. The room houses the original Winnie-the-Pooh animals and has a fine mural running along the top of the wall.
After a brief tour (and a comforting reminder that mine isnâ€™t the only office with unruly stacks of to-process books), it was off to lunch we went. You may not be aware, but Betsy has in her possession a magic satchel that can produce both food and an endless stream of new books. How she came upon this satchel remains a mystery. Topics of conversation included:
The Baby Bird. Still in galley form, the final version is set to publish next month. We talked names, of course, and I always enjoy the opportunity to explain the childrenâ€™s lit source of my daughterâ€™s name, Lina (extra credit for anyone who can pin that one down).
Betsyâ€™s Upcoming Books. It was fun to get the lowdown on Giant Dance Party (which will be released in Spring of 2012) and her behind the scenes look at childrenâ€™s literature, co-authored by fantastic bloggers Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta. Iâ€™ll be checking for these in the future.
New Books. Out of said magic satchel came Ellray Jakes Is Not a Chicken!, Marty McGuire (a new lower level chapter book by Kate Messner and Brian Floca), and Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets. We also talked about the new Jack Gantos title Dead End in Norvelt. I was able to relay my friendâ€™s story of hanging with Gantos backstage at an Aerosmith concert. We agreed that that sounded about right.
Cool Children’s Lit Movie News. Betsyâ€™s husband is a screenwriter (you can check out his blog, Cockeyed Caravan) and we briefly talked about a new project heâ€™s working on with extremely cool childrenâ€™s lit ties. I donâ€™t want to spoil anything, so Iâ€™ll leave it to the olâ€™ Fuse to fill you in at a later date.
Oatmeal and Date Cookies. Uh, not a topic of conversation, but totally worth mentioning. That was a great cookie.
Before we parted ways, I had to get a look at â€œThe Bookâ€, a leather bound square number that authors and illustrators sign when they visit the childrenâ€™s room. A great browse for any childrenâ€™s lit fan. Heavy hitters and familiar names abound.
Ben Hatke (who I hear does a mean backflip)
And with that, I made my exit.
Thanks, Betsy, for letting me barge in!
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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