ALA ... just what I got up to last weekend.

I got to tell you, ALA was cracking! It was my first visit to a BIG library conference and it was so much more than I expected. I expected to see a LOT of librarians, a LOT of BOOKS and SOME amazingly awesome people. What I didn't expect was to feel totally at home, surrounded by thousands of people who love books, LOVE them I tell you! If you have never attended ALA, summer or midwinter conference (and you can afford it) ... go! Just for the experience. If you're an illustrator, a writer or a reader I say GO! Get involved. Meet the librarians ... meet the publishers ... meet the famous writers and artists! (And the not so famous!) Go to panels and readings and presentations. Buy a ticket to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet or the Coretta Scott King Awards. You won't regret it.

OK .. so my trip was fat ... got to Anaheim, CA Friday night (from Maine), back on the redeye, Sunday. My lovely roomie from last year's SCBWI summer conference (and LA resident) Charlene Ellen (MG author in waiting) collected me at the airport. (Thanks Charlene!). We stayed at the Hilton Anaheim ... excellently situated right next to the conference centre, so you could nip back and forth to the hotel during the day.

Here's our 'Disney view' room ... watched the fireworks in the evening. Here's the view:

We got upgraded after first being put in an occupied room. You know that feeling when you open the door .. and oops, there they are on the bed!! JUST KIDDING!!! But the room WAS occupied ;-)

And there's the swimming pool that the kid pooped in just after I got in. Yuk!!!! No, really, it was a great hotel. Despite the toilet blockage. (I blame Charlene).


Pretty nice to get an exhibitor's badge too! Felt like a pony at a show. (No comments from the cheap seats, thank you). I had a book signing with Kane Miller and also with Charlesbridge on Saturday .. pretty overwhelming for a first timer.

Weather was perfect ... outside the conference centre, a nice place to chill after you have WALKED 

& WALKED & WALKED around stand after stand....
Saturday morning - straight into the fray with 'All Star Cheerleaders' at Kane Miller's booth. This was the first time I'd met Anastasia Suen (author). She was busier than a bee with umpteen signings and panels.

We got to work and suddenly there's a queue of librarians and we're signing like mad things! I'd elected to draw a quick cheerleader in every copy ... and we did 100 in an hour. What was I thinking?? My hand nearly fell off. But, it was a great experience and the first time I'd experienced anything like that before!


Lunch was a welcome break ... and then it was back into the conference hall and a signing on Charlesbridge for the book 'Hidden New Jersey' by Linda Barth. The pace slowed down a little and there was time to talk to the people buying the books!
Here I am with Charlesbridge author Caroline Arnold, on the schedule after me.

In the evening we hired a Hummer limousine and hit the town!
Alright, no we didn't, but we would have liked to. Rumour has it this was Dan Santat's transport ....


We did get to go to Simon and Schuster's Celebrate the Picture Book Dessert Party (kindly invited by Ashley Bryan) that evening, in the neighbouring hotel. It WAS all kinds of awesome and I'll tell you more about that in post TWO.

Sunday morning .... up early to attend the Corretta Scott King Awards. I decided I wanted to go to the breakfast to see Ashley Bryan receive his Virgina Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award. I was lucky enough to visit with Ashley last year at his studio on an island in Maine. It was an honour to see him receive it. Ashley's love and humanity shone out and was returned by the appreciative audience, I of course, blubbed (I always do).

Ashley receiving his award.

Also honoured were Kadir Nelson, for 'Heart and Soul', Shaun W Evans (among others) and Leo Dillon, sadly no longer with us.

It was a wonderful couple of hours ... singing and music and a fab brekky too! I sat next to a great bunch of librarians. That's one of the things that struck me about the whole weekend ... out of my usual comfort zone of illustrators and writers I expected to feel a bit isolated. But everyone was wonderful and conversation flowed. Of course it did! We all love books!

Here is Ashley signing copies of his books for invited children attending the breakfast awards. What a great memory for them!

Sunday - my last day. No Newbery/Caldecott ticket for me this year - I put on comfy shoes and prepared to walk the publishing stands the rest of the day. It's hard ... you want to look at every one of the wonderful new books! You want to talk to EVERYONE you can! You keep bumping into people you know ... (that was great! I saw more people from New England than I had seen in ages. And Facebook friends too). You HAVE to see the famous people and take pictures and stand and look in awe at the length of the lines and wonder if anyone will ever queue that long for YOUR book. And you dream ....

By 3pm I was pretty tired ... but two more hours until close. So I grabbed some caffeine and a sugar hit and back to the stands ... it was SO worth it.

Nothing to do after that other than get some dinner, catch up on email. And fall asleep on a sofa in the hotel lobby until the shuttle came ... I think I was alseep before the plane even took off.

In my next post ... just WHO I accosted at ALA and a look at the Simon and Schuster Dessert Party. (Why sugar and children's books are the perfect match).

Tiddly Pom!