Skip to main content

My Best Weekend Ever, So Far...




So, I am basically at what amounts to my own personal version of ComicCon - the SCBWI 41st Annual Summer Conference in LA. Actually, not just LA, but Century City. The hotel where the conference is held is on the Avenue of the Stars, and, true to its name, I did encounter a star last night when I went out to grab some dinner. As I walked into Gelson's and headed for the Pink Lady Apples, who should I see but Bob Newhart! There is no mistaking this guy, but, the experience was heightened when I heard his distinctive, quasi-stuttery, raspy voice talking to a hairy guy with huge calves.  I confess to lingering over the apples so I could sneak another peek at him and hear his voice a bit more. My son, who is a fan of classic stand-up comedy, was devastated that I did not ask for his autograph for him.

Speaking of autographs, I hauled a huge bag of books here with me to be signed by the amazing faculty at this convention and will most likely end up buying a few more from the bookstore here. Thus far, I have heard an amazing, inspiring speech from Arthur A Levine, of Arthur A Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. If you know nothing else about this man, he is the person behind bringing Harry Potter to America and he has been JK Rowling's editor from the start. His imprint is celebrating 15 years of amazing books and his speech highlighted titles he's published over the years with a focus on the timelessness of each title and what makes them so. From Rough Face Girl by Rafe Martin and David Shannon to Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (of which he said, "Great writers use anticipation more than surprise," and if you've read this book you'll know what I mean. Of Mirette on High Wire, the Caldecott Award winning picture book by Emily Arnold McCully, Levine quoted a line that has stayed with him, "Think only of the wire and of crossing to the end." Of Philip Pullman's amazing novel The Golden Compass, another book Levine is responsible for bringing to the US, he said one of the most pointed, poignant things about this book, which is a longtime favorite of mine and a work I hold up as an example of superlative writing and storytelling over and over. While Levine noted all of the spectacular things about this book, he got to the heart of it in a way I'd never considered. Speaking of Pullman's creation of the dæmon, an animal companion, ego to the id, or vice versa, who never leaves your side and is intimately connected to you, Levine said, and I paraphrase, "Pullman creates this construction that you, the reader fall in love with, it is so new and appealing, then he puts it in danger." In doing so, he creates an intensity of emotion and excitement and suspense that is, no doubt, why so many people are passionate about this book.


Next up was the equally, but for different reasons, moving and spectacular and completely entertaining, Tony DiTerlizzi, who took us through his creative process by way of a kind-of geeky childhood. First off, though, I have to say that Tony totally rocked his saddle shoes and almost had me running out to buy a pair. This guy is basically a genius, which, to me is anyone who is artistically ambidextrous, meaning he is equally good at writing and illustrating. Adam Rex is another genius of this sort who never fails to amaze me. Extremely energetic and generous with impressions, Tony had everyone laughing from start to finish and even shared a picture of himself in 5th grade, circa 1979 (think big aviator-style glasses, Luke Skywalker haircut and cool printed t-shirt.) He talked about how so many of his ideas come from his connection to his childhood and his mindset, "Is this what 10 year old Tony would want to read?" as he works. This influenced his amazing science fiction trilogy, now 2/3 of the way done, that begins with The Search for WondLa. What I especially liked was how Tony talked about what he was reading as a ten year old. You might be surprised to hear that it was pretty girl-centric - The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan topped the list. Dorothy, Alice and Wendy - he noted that Wendy is in fact the main character of Barrie's book since she experiences a change over the course of the story where Peter remains the same - all have one thing in common as their stories unfold. They all want to go home. And Home is at the center of DeTerlizzi's work.

Next, I attended two talks given by publishers who have very distinct and great taste. Jordan Brown, who divides his time betweeen Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray, both imprints of Harper Collins, is the editor behind some of my favorite books that are also examples of brilliant writing, Breadcrumbs, Cosimic, Neversink, and The Fourth Stall, a really fantastic book by Chris Rylander (who I get to hear speak today!!!) that is hilarious and heartfelt (dumb word, I know) and so, so well written it makes me a little achy. Review to come. 

And more about my incredible first day (and today) later. I need my coffee before another spectacular day of kid's books!

Comments

nopinkhere said…
Wow! It sounds like you are having a great time! I hope you keep having this much fun!
William Turek said…
Aidan is recovering nicely from the disappointment. So glad that you're there!

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…