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Instagramming ALA Midwinter 2013

I mentioned last week that it was time to stop fooling myself that I would get a lot of blog posts out the door during ALA Midwinter. Success! I did, however, manage to take pictures on Instagram. Why don’t I dump all the photos right here for anyone interested?

I take your silence as a hearty encouragement (bad at interpreting silence).

But before we start, here’s a quick guide to common ALA ailments. I suffered from every one of these conditions at one time or another during the weekend:

Packing for this sort of event is tricky. I managed to go extremely light this year by using this formula:

weather + number of days + fanciness level – any choices whatsoever

Full disclosure: I did have to re-wear one shirt. A modest success.

I grabbed the one book I was interested in reading on the plane – not finished yet, but enjoying it.

Made my way from Michigan to Seattle with a stop here, Minneapolis, in between.

I’m always oddly curious about the children’s sections in airports. This one was particularly YA-heavy.

I did manage to set a world record during the trip – shortest game of pinball ever. Look for it in the next Guinness book.

I arrived right about the same time as Children’s Literature Bill Clinton, John Schumacher and School Library Journal editor at large, Rocco Staino. Here they are pretending to hire a limo. We really took a van.

For Chicago folks, my hotel will probably remind you of the architecturally famous Marina City Towers. Suddenly I want corn on the cob.

First stop – convention center. I grabbed all necessary nametags and totebags.

A fun part of the weekend is when publishers host various gatherings around town. This year Holiday House booked a room in the Space Needle for librarians to congregate and learn more about upcoming books. I’d never been, so a trip to the top was mandatory.

Another big part of the conference is the exhibits, where all the publishers are hawking their wares and a few elbows (not mine, I promise) are thrown over highly sought-after advance copies. There were a few 2013 books that caught my eye over the course of the weekend.

Snicket and Klassen! As if there wasn’t going to be a lot of interest in this book already, Klassen’s historic double Caldecott win will take it to 11. I’ve read it and let me just say – I think it’s going to be just as love it or hate it as I Want My Hat Back. A seriously creepy beginning, with a conclusion that is anything but.

You’re probably going to get sick of me telling you about this book. Michigan’s own Laurie Keller is set to release an early chapter book based on the character from one of my all-time favorite picture books (an absurdest masterpiece) Arnie the Doughnut. I wasn’t able to take a copy home, but flipping through was a surprise – there are drawings all over every page, and not a large block of text to be found. I have high hopes that it will be good and all signs point to kids digging it.

Did you know 2013 is the 25th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s Matilda? Here’s the new anniversary hardcover edition. Thumbs up.

I give most unusual title to this book by Ellen Booraeum.

It’s standard practice for publishers to put these little stars in books that have received recognition in some way or another. Sometime it’s for a starred review, but it might be a quote or some other praise. I loved seeing SLJs own Fuse #8 Production given a shout-out on Eerdman’s John Jensen Feels Different.

Ms. Shannon Houghton organized a gathering for #nerdybookclub folks that was a fine time. The soundtrack was a stellar mix of 70s and 80s R&B (think Michael Jackson’s Rock With You).

One highlight of the conference on the book side of things was seeing incredible cut paper illustrator Nikki McClure talk about her work. Hers is the sort of artwork that gets 100% more impressive when you consider how it is created. Everything is cut out with an exacto knife, and every part of the picture must stay connected. Cool to see some of her original work at an ABRAMS gathering.

Another highlight was the Newbery Medalist event put on by Random House. It was at the Seattle Public Library (aka Book Spaceship)

The interior was wild. Even the floors had a twist.

We made our way into the room where seven Newbery medal and honor winning authors did a panel discussion. It was great – funny moments, thoughtful moments, surprises – the audience had a blast.

Afterward there was a book signing upstairs which allowed me to sneak by the children’s section for a quick shot.

On Monday morning I attended the ALA Youth Media Awards with pals (and Twitter all-stars) Shannon Ozirny and the aforementioned Mr. Schu, and new buds Cynthia Alaniz and Cathy PotterI recapped that scene yesterday.

Later it was on to the airport for the trip home. You know what that means…

Rematch. I’m glad to report I didn’t set a new world record this time around. Far from it! I had two pinballs going at the same time!

All in all, a great conference.


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 scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Awesome post. Thanks for being the conference to life, Travis. Maybe next year!

  2. Thanks for the fantastic recap! :) e

  3. And now I can check *attend MidWinter in Seattle* off my bucket list!! Thanks so much for the photos. Such a fun trip this morning!

  4. That was really great! Especially the cartoon action.