Archive | author visit RSS feed for this section

John & Hank All the Way Down

31 Oct

Lucy must have sensed how excited I was when I got home because she clearly knew I was going out again and refused to eat her dinner. That upset me, but not enough to keep me home. I was going out to see John & Hank Green!

As I pulled up to Portland’s Revolution Hall, I saw the bus. I didn’t know they were travelling by bus! It seemed to blend right into the neighborhood.

IMG_0922

I was early because I thought it started at 7, when in fact it started at 7:30. Fortunately, the doors opened at 6:30, so I didn’t have to wait long to find my seat, where there was swag.

IMG_0925

Inside the bag was a poster, a signed copy of Turtles All The Way Down, and a tour brochure. The brochure had letters – one to “people who are only here for their friend/      child/partner/sibling”, another to “the people who are here by themselves”, and a third to everyone.

One of the up sides of arriving an hour before the show is that I ran into a few librarians I knew and watch as the hall filled with excited fans of the brothers. Although John Green writes for young adults, I was not the only unaccompanied adult in the room. And there were not as many young people as I expected. There were plenty, don’t get me wrong, just more people closer to my age than I thought there would be.

Slowly, but surely, the hall filled. And then, the show began.

John came out first, alone and did a reading from Turtles All The Way Down,  which is the reason the whole tour was happening in the first place. After the reading, he spoke a little about his own experience with OCD and the importance of novels. Every novel, he said, is a way to live in another person;s consciousness, to see the world through other people’s eyes. I knew that already, but it is always good to be reminded that reading builds empathy.

IMG_0930

After that serious bit, Dr. Lawrence Turtleman came out. (It was really Hank in a turtle suit.) He gave a funny, sciencey talk about the Carl Linnaeus, how animals are classified, and how tuatara have boney protrusions instead of teeth, among other things.

This was followed by John answering questions about the book. One of the questions had to do with the conflict between writing expository and narrative text, which as a teacher of writing, piqued my interest. He spoke about how reading really good expository texts, like the essays of Joan Didion and the works of Toni Morrison, can help shape writers and teach them to write narratively in their expository text. Hey, That’s what I try to teach my students every day!

IMG_0932

A live version of their podcast followed with a Q & A that was simultaneously serious and hilarious. Hank sang some songs that had me watching the ASL interpreter as much as him because he sings fast, complicated songs with a lot of science thrown in.

John came out again and spoke about Amy Krouse Rosenthal. He told us of how she helped him during a difficult period and taught him that the soldiers of WWI sand “We’re here because we’re here” to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. And then he asked us to sing it. I got weepy.  A beautiful denouement.

 

There was an encore that involved another sing along and then we all went home, encouraged by the words “Don’t forget to be awesome!”

 

 

Advertisements

We need this book

18 Aug

What I didn’t tell you about in my blog posts about the ALA conference, was how delightful it was to meet Katherine Applegate.

download

When I descended the stairs to the room where the MacMillan dinner was being hosted, she was the only person there. She explained that the hosts had stepped out for a moment to take care of some business and she was left in charge. She was a wonderful hostess and an easy conversationalist.

I had already received an advance reader’s copy of her new novel, Wishtree,  so I got the one I received that evening personalized for my sister, who I felt bad about abandoning that evening. We have both read our books and both loved it. We both cried.

33158525

Publisher’s Summary: Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.

This is a beautiful story. It is one of the books on my Mock  Newbery list and it would make an excellent beginning of the year read aloud.  It doesn’t come out until September 26th,  and it skews slightly younger than my students, but I am still thinking about reading it to my students. It is just that beautiful.

 

 

Jane Kurtz’s Planet Jupiter Blog Tour

13 May

The sign on the Music Millennium store near my house says it all:

Music_Millennium_store_and_-Keep_Portland_Weird-_sign_(2015)

Jane Kurtz’s new book, Planet Jupiter,  celebrates Portland’s weirdness while telling a beautiful middle grade story of family and belonging.

Planet Jupiter revised cover B

Author’s Summary: Jupiter and her family have spent their lives on the road, moving from town to town in a trusty old van, making do, and earning their living busking for tourists. But when their van breaks down, Jupiter’s mother rents an actual house in Portland for the summer so that Jupiter’s annoying cousin Edom, recently adopted from Ethiopia, can stay with them. Luckily, Edom doesn’t want to be in Portland any more than Jupiter wants her there, and the two hatch a plan to send Edom back to her mother. In the process, Jupiter learns that community — and family — aren’t always what you expect them to be.

Clearly, Kurtz’s depiction of Portland is one of the things I love. She captures the farmer’s market culture and all of the quirkiness of this city I call home. But there are other things that make this an excellent middle grade read.

The fact that Jupiter and her brother, Orion, are named after celestial bodies might seem contrived, but it is very Portland – I have neighbors who named their children after various species of trees! But Kurtz uses the names effectively and weaves celestial metaphors throughout her writing. This is the sort of thing I love pointing out to my students!

Jupiter’s fear of change and her desire to help Edom leave are like a snapshot of how Americans feel about refugees and immigrants generally. Fear of the other, fear of change are overcome when we have the opportunity to get to know people.

showing lily

 

Jane Kurtz is celebrating the release of her new book, Planet Jupiter, with an event May 16, 2017, at 7pm at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland. Honoring the theme of music and busking in the book, she will be joined by special musical guests Colette and Madelaine Parry.

I hope to see you there!

 

A really good book day

3 May

Not one but two author visits yesterday…along with some author spotting.

It all started with Victoria Jamieson’s visit to my school.

IMG_0662

I managed to sign up the day the email went out and was able to bring my whole class. She spoke a lot about how she wrote her graphic novel, Roller Girl,  which I can’t keep on the shelves of my classroom library. At the end of her presentation, she gave us some drawing tips and took questions.IMG_0663

The girl beside me looked like she wanted to ask something but didn’t know what to ask, so I whispered, “Ask what she is working on now.” She did and her face glowed when Victoria said, “Great question!” and proceeded to show us the galley of her newest graphic novel, full of sticky notes marking the corrections she has to make.

I went through the rest of my day, thinking about how I can now draw more expressive faces and happy in the knowledge that, that evening, I was going to see A. S. King.

Her visit was courtesy of Multnomah County Library and took place in the lovely Taborspace, not too far from my home.

IMG_0664

She started off by reading from Still Life With Tornado, then went on to make us laugh, cry and laugh some more. She is always a treat to see in person. I got a signed copy of Me and Marvin Gardens  for my personal library. My classroom already has a copy and it doesn’t stay on my shelves much either. She has another middle grade novel coming out in 2019, and I am excited about that, though sad I will have to wait.

The audience was small, but cozy, scattered as we were at cafe tables or in cozy arm chairs. The funny thing was, there were local authors in the audience. I recognized Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series) the moment she walked in by her highly recognizable pink hair. Cathy Camper (Lowriders series), one of the MCL librarians responsible for the event, was there. Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd, Turn of the Tide)  came too. Her middle grade novel, Turn of the Tide, is one of next year’s OBOB books for the 6-8 division.

All in all, it was a really great book day.

 

A Radiant Evening

6 Apr

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.

url.jpg

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.

Fierce Reads

10 Oct

unknown

Before watching the presidential town hall last night, I went to the Fierce Reads tour at Powells.

Although I arrived early, I had to take a seat in the fifth row because so many fans were excited to see the four authors who would be talking. Although my view was obstructed, I could hear everything clearly.

img_0412 img_0413

The author that I and most audience members were most excited to see was Leigh Bardugo who was promoting her newest book, Crooked Kingdom,  the sequel to Six of Crows.

crooked_kingdom_cover

Kami Garcia, author of the Beautiful Creatures series, was promoting The Lovely Reckless.

9781250079190_fc

There were two new authors to me, Emma Mills and Caleb Roehrig, who were promoting their mysteries This Adventure Ends  and Last Seen Leaving  respectively.

9781627799355 9781250085634_fc

Although I enjoyed listening to each of the authors talk, I only took notes on the parts where they offered writing advice for aspiring writers that I can take back to school. They were specifically asked for advice for young writers who might be considering NaNoWriMo, but I think most of it is relevant to writing at any time. Here is what I gleaned:

  • don’t be afraid to write badly
  • write 2000 words a day
  • have a plan, but banish the idea of perfection in a draft
  • if you get stuck, write what you are thinking at the time to break the paralysis between your head and your hands
  • when you get stuck
    • talk to your characters
    • verbalize the problem
    • with the point of view you are writing
    • step away from the problem (run, drive, get out of the house)
    • work/focus on something else
    • don’t go online
  • the more obsessed you become with solving a problem, the less likely you are to  solve it
  • talk to friends/critique partners – they may help spark a new idea

They all agreed that the first draft is just a baby step. My favorite line of the afternoon came from Kami Garcia who said, “Revising is the real thing”.

 

 

Custard and Parasols

27 Jul

Instead of spending Monday night glued to my radio listening to the speeches at the Democratic Convention, I went to Powells to meet Gail Carriger.

GailCarrigerParasolHeadshot_VanessaApplegate

She is the author of the Finishing School series I finished in April.She was in town promoting her newest novel, Imprudence, the sequel to Prudence, and the second book in the Custard Protocol series.

Unknown  Unknown-1

Unlike many author presentations, Carriger gave a very brief presentation, covering topics she is asked about a lot. She spent most of the time answering questions of the packed house. Through the wide range of questions, we got to know Gail Carriger’s sense of humor, writing routine and plans for the future.

I’ve been reading her series out-of-order. I started with the Finishing School series, the began The Custard Protocol.  Now, I have her first series, The Parasol Protectorate,  in my queue.  Each of these series is unique unto itself, but they are all set in the Steampunk world she created and there are some characters that overlap. I loved how Carriger explained that each of these repeating characters seem to be a little different in each series because are shown as perceived by protagonist of the series. I was impressed and that helped explain why the Lord Akeldama of Prudence is so different from the Lord Akeldama of The Finishing School.

Of course, I took my moment to get my books signed and chat for a few moments with Gail.

IMG_0208

When I got home, I learned I had missed some fabulous DNC speeches, but I didn’t mind. I could watch them online. I had enjoyed a marvelous evening and had a new book to read.

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

The Book Smugglers

Smuggling Since 2007 | Reviewing SF & YA since 2008

Chez Lizzie

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Yarn Harlot

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Diversity in YA

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

%d bloggers like this: