Friday, May 31, 2019

SLJ Day of Dialog - 2019

I attended my third DoD on Wednesday. My first two were downtown at NYU, which was an easy commute - bus to the Port Authority, then a trot downstairs to catch the A train to the W4th station, followed by a short walk. The venue itself was not without its challenges though - only one elevator and the need to move between many floors. This year's venue at Fifth Ave and 103rd added a wrinkle to my commute. I was ready to take a bus as early as 6:30 having awakened at 4:15 but chose not to. That was a mistake as the line for the Metro Card machines was long, long, long. Then, I had to walk, walk, walk to take the Shuttle to Grand Central Station. Once there, I had a longish hike to the #6 train platform. Got to 103rd street, got turned around and walked in the wrong direction. Phew!

Arrived too late for a bite to eat but in time to listen to the announcements of the Horn Book/ Boston Globe Awards. Nice bunch of books these

The opening keynote speech was given by the venerable Jerry Pinkney.

He spoke eloquently about the highs and lows of illustrating A Place to Land, written by Barry Wittenstein.

Next up was a Middle Grade Author Panel featuring Rob Buyea, Nicole Melleby, Celia Pérez, Tim Tingle and Ibi Zoboi. They all have books coming out and discussed things like whether they develop plot or characters first and why middle grade. 

In between sessions, groups of publishers got on the stage to deliver rapid fire book talks of five or so upcoming titles. I always try to be selective grabbing arcs but when the publishers book talk, they all sound so good! Of course, there's also time to browse the tables, where other titles are displayed. This graphic novel adaptation of I Dissent by Debbie Levy was happy-making! I use the picture book as a mentor text in my sixth grade picture book biography unit. 

SLJ editor Mahnaz Dar moderated the graphic novel panel where Jerry Craft, Faith Erin Hicks, Kyo Maclear, Emma Steinkellner and Jen Wang spoke about their recent and upcoming graphic novels. 

At some point, I began noticing the beautiful details of this auditorium. 

After a second publisher pitch, we settled in for a pre-lunch keynote delivered by Sharon Robinson, who spoke about her upcoming memoir, Child of a Dream.

Lunch was picked up across the street at the Museum of the City of New York, where we had passes to view the exhibits as well. Unfortunately, lunch was brief and there was no time. I texted one of my sons, who is a rabid fan of baseball and its history and who also lives in the city. We will meet there one day soon. Lunch was delicious, by the way.

A third round of Publisher Pitches kicked off the afternoon, followed by a YA Panel in which Sharon Attia, Alison Gervais, Thanhha Lai, Kim Liggett and Tochi Anyebuchi discussed their upcoming books. Thanhha Lai is so funny!

The Editor's Panel was a fascinating mix of powerhouses who discussed their "vision" sometimes irreverently.

I thought Kwame Alexander was tall! Christopher Myers is huge!

The DoD ended with an author signing. I got a sampler of A Place to Land signed by Jerry Pinkney and Barry Wittenstein. I whispered to Mr. Wittenstein that I recently reviewed Sonny's Bridge on the blog. 

I got a copy of New Kid signed by Jerry Craft. This is being sent to e. E. Charlton-Trujillo's non-profit, Never Counted Out. I told Jerry that his book has already been hidden by a student in the library. I couldn't find it one day and marked it lost. Several weeks later, I was cleaning up a corner and straightening books and I found it hidden. At least it wasn't outright stolen! I also got the arc of Just Because by Mac Barnett signed for my husbands nephews and niece. 

My day was not yet over. I needed to hoof it to the subway and downtown to the Princeton Club for a publisher dinner. I thought my rolling backpack was waterproof:-/ I had a waterproof rain jacket on but the hood kept blowing off. And there were mammoth puddles that were unavoidable so my sneaks got very squishy wet. I arrived late looking like a drowned rat. My packed books were slightly damp to wet. Sigh.

Dinner was tasty and so was the chardonnay. I met some new librarian friends so dinner conversation was interesting. Then we all quieted down to listen to five authors talk about their upcoming titles. I can't wait to read each one! Deborah Heiligman spoke passionately about her research for Torpedoed! and ran out of time. Tim Tingle told a story as he often does and scared the bejeezus out of us. His upcoming book is called Doc and the Detective. Morgan Parker got personal about her debut, Who Put This Song On? David Yoon's debut had some personal roots as well. I can't wait to read Frankly in Love. And finally, Julie Murphy kept us laughing and thinking as she spoke of her middle grade debut, Sweet Pea.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time I left so it was a dry trot to the Port Authority, where I was third in line for the bus which arrived within ten minutes. I got a seat near the front, plugged in to listen to Internment on my phone and settle back, exhausted but happy, for the trip home. 

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