Brag time. Schmoozy New Yorky brag time.
Sorry if this comes off as self-indulgent, but I'm nothing if not a self-indulgent lass. Today I got a chance to attend the Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Award Ceremony. Despite the fact that the Bank Street College is literally 12 blocks South of my home, and despite the fact that I visit the Bank Street Bookstore with the casual regularity of a small time stalker, I had no idea that the college even existed until recently.
When I got there a large crew of librarians, collegiate types, experts in the field, authors, etc. were milling about and consuming large quantities of poppyseed muffins. I found myself mingling with YA types, the head of the Brooklyn children's collection, a publisher here and there, and finally we got to see the winners. As you can see from the aforementioned website, Deborah Wiles came through with each little bird that sings. Since it was so rudely passed over for a Newbery and only got a National Book Honor, I felt vindicated on Ms. Wiles' behalf. She won this year's Josette Frank award. She, for her part, was charm incarnate. If you read her book and ended up with the sniffles, try sitting in front of her as she talks about herself and her work in such a way that you're afraid your co-workers might figure out why you keep sniffing so loudly. I even went so far as to buy her book and ask her to sign it, which I almost never do. She was delightful. When she heard I was from the Donnell Library she had nothing but lovely lovely things to say.
Which brings us to Chris Raschka. Ah, Chris. So close to becoming another notch in my Hot Men of Children's Literature posts, yet so far. Mr. Raschka had wonderful things to say after his book A Kick In the Head won the Claudia Lewis Award. He, in turn, mentioned Donnell Central Children's Room by name when he gave his speech. Great, you say? Yeah, not so much. Seems that back in the day Mr. Raschka got kicked out of Donnell simply by looking mildly scruffy and he has NEVER FORGOTTEN IT. He mentions the fact with every speech he gives apparently. We had some fun trying to figure out who would have been the guilty party, but since I've been with Donnell since January of this year my contributions were less than helpful.
Here's the capper, though. We were seated next to Esther Hautzig (a big friend of Donnell) when who should slip into the seat next to her but Uri Shulevitz. That was cool. He wrote the Caldecott Honor book Snow and his most recent title was The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela.
So I'm all agog and ah-twitter. And for the record? Wiles and Shulevitz (and I'm sure Raschka, though I never spoke to him) are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Real peaches, both of them.