Just as Spring Break began I received an email inviting me to a dinner event on April 5th, with Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe.
I knew he was going to be in town and visiting one or more local libraries. The invitation seemed odd because it came in my school email and I usually get these sorts of things through my personal email, which is the one I use for ALA business.
I hemmed and hawed for a day or two because that week was already busy. I then told myself You’ll regret this if you say NO, so I emailed back my acceptance.
So, last night, I said goodbye to Lucy again after her walk and dinner and drove to the Firehouse restaurant in NE Portland. I arrived a little early because I worried about parking and waited in the car for a bit before going in. It was self talk time. I didn’t know if I’d know anyone and sometimes I have to gear up for social events.
When I entered the private upstairs room, I worried because the two people already there had on conference name badges. Apparently, the American Bookseller’s Association’s ABC Children’s Institute is going on in Portland this week.We made small talk and eyed the beautifully arranged room. More name-tagged people arrived and I worried I’d been invited by mistake. Then, my Sibert colleague arrived as did a few other locals on ALA committees, namely the Newbery and Caldecott. Altogether we were maybe a dozen people. Finally, Javaka arrived and the event got started.
I was seated next to Javaka for the first part of the meal, which learned it took him FIVE YEARS to make this book. I asked him about writing his speech for the Newberry-Caldecott Award and learned that he has already written it because he had to submit it this week and will have to record it soon. In, fact, he had to write two speeches because he has to give a different speech at the CSK Awards banquet!
Javake moved around the table for the second and third courses of the meal, but I was not without conversation partners. This was heaven for kidlit nerds!
At the end, we all got a personlized, signed copy of the book and, since there was a lot of food left over, a doggy bag! Lunch today will be delicious.
Thank you Javaka and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for an excellent evening.