Listening To Their Cantinas. Drinking Their Mint Juleps.
I have good news to share. Chris Raschka is still alive. I will explain.
To continue where I left off, as of yesterday the prettifying for the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet went a touch awry. Here's a useful traveling tip for all you culture lovers out there. Should you happen to find that your eyebrows have turned into connected furry masses and you have left your tweezers at home, do not attempt to shave between the area using your men's razor. This is not a wise course of action. It is rather, the best way to produce a bright red gaping gash in a highly visible area. whee
In any case, prettification reached its peak and because I ended up with an extra ticket I was able to get hubby in as well. As it happens, librarians aren't exactly security conscious when it comes to hubbies. We were able to waltz into the ballroom in question without having to flash any paper tickets as proof of our legitimacy. This is not to say that come the next Banquet I want any of you to sneak in unawares. I guess it's sort of the honor system course of things. But if you do crash, seek me out. I'd love to hear your reasons behind doing so.
I want to also state right now that I am probably the newbiest of the newbies out there kiddie-lit-wise. I like to pretend I'm wise and all knowing and over the age of thirty, but these are all lies. Damn dirty lies. So this was my first Newbery/Caldecott Banquet and as such I was, how does one say, blown away. Seriously blown. First of all, roughly 100,000 people were in attendance. Other people will give you conflicting numbers saying there were far less. Do not believe them. There were 100,000. I counted. Everyone was dressed to the nines and sitting at tables with navy blue tablecloths. Hubby found a table of nice librarians and I was invited to sit with the Boyd Mills Press/Front Street crew. This was all due to the very kind invitation of Nancy Hogan. Let that be a lesson to you all. Small delightful presses like Boyd Mills are not afraid to include wayward children's librarian bloggers into their midst. Anywho, I was at a table with notable personalities, including the rather handsome and Hot Men of Children's Literature-insipient Jason Weber (HI, JASON!). Charming man. I was also at a table with Suzanne Bloom. Ever read A Splendid Friend, Indeed? If not, go away and read it. I refuse to write another word until you've given it a glance. As it happens it was my Amazon review and not my blog that alerted Boyd Mills to my presence in the world. As for Ms. Bloom, she is a hoot. We spent half our time talking Disney villains, book sequels (hers), and various bookish folderol.
Free Items Found At My Seat: One harmonica (care of The Hello, Goodbye Window). One program for the evening. One cd of the acceptance speeches which I would podcast from this blog if I had any technical knowledge whatsoever.
Then the awards themselves. Projected onto a big screen were the presenters. For the sake of brevity I shall catalogue my thoughts as they popped into me head:
After the listing of the Newbery committee members: I know two of them! (my thoughts are never much more complicated than this after several glasses of mighty fine white wine)
After Alan Armstrong received his award: Nice fellow
After Susan Campbell Bartoletti: Young woman
After Shannon Hale: I want to befriend this person. I want us to hang out together at brunch on Sundays and talk trash celebrities. This is the award winner of the evening I would most want to find myself sitting next to on an airplane (this may sound odd, but I hear that almost everyone has this reaction after seeing Shannon Hale for the first time).
After Jacqueline Woodson: I know her. No glasses.
After Newbery Award Winner Lynne Rae Perkins: Young! So young. So very young. She has reddish hair and is not 75. I'm so confused. Why is she wearing a dalmation shirt?
After hearing Perkins' speech: Best damn Newbery speech in years, I dare say. Not a single reference to the usual Newbery speech tropes. These usually include a) How the author got the phone call and b) The librarian that befriended them when they were a child. This was a speech a person might wish they had the mental ability to concoct out of their own brain, only to find it only resides in the craniums of such authors as the fabulous Lynne Rae Perkins. The only woman who could have won for 2006.
Okay. Then the Caldecott came. The white wine was now fading and I was beginning to allow my brain to coalesce. I drank some more, quickly.
After the listing of the Caldecott committee members: I know one of them!
After Marjorie Priceman received her award: Ngh.
After Bryan Collier: Five tables have stood up in response. Goodness me.
After Beckie Prange: Lovely lovely lovely.
After Jon J. Muth: Hello, Hot Men of Children's Literature, Part 20 In a Series.
After Caldecott Award Winner Chris Raschka: Please don't mention Donnell. Please please please don't mention Donnell.
I should state here and now that not only did Mr. R not mention Donnell, he was charming. Effusive. Admittedly, I never knew a person could mention their own volunteer work to the extent that he did without coming across as pompous, but he managed it brilliantly. The speech, when you hear it online/read it in Horn Book, is a long remarkably thoughtful series of observations and clever notes. It was also, and I can't stress this enough, amusing. Speech writers everywhere could take some notes from Mr. Raschka's book.
Norton Juster also briefly had some words to give on the matter, but his speech was far more off-the-cuff. He mentioned that he had been accused of NOT being able to play the harmonica like the grandfather in the book. A quick rendition of Oh, Susanna was enough to prove such naysayers wrong. Even better, he was then soon accompanied by Raschka on the cantina. Throw in Daniel Handler on the accordian and you'd have had a sweet little band of uncertain pedigree.
By the way, the food at this shindig was amazing. Salads of walnuts and apples. Thick juicy steaks served with large luscious pre-peeled shrimp. A dessert that involved ice cream, caramel, and bananas served in such a way that the bananas tasted less like fruit and more like soft sugar. Delicious. You were up a tree if you were vegetarian, of course. I, for my part, was in heaven.
Then everyone watched the Carnegie winning The Man Who Walked Between the Towers and went into another room where all the winners were in a reception line to shake hands. Like a wedding but one in which you don't get to throw anything at the person in the prettiest dress (which would be Shannon Hale, by my count). I did not do the line. I knew Jackie Woodson, but what do you say to her? Hi, Jackie. Nice award. No glasses? I couldn't imagine anything I could mumble that would matter in the least to these people (though the devil on my right shoulder was prodding me to mention Donnell to Mr. Raschka . . . I declined). Instead, hubby and I walked through a brain-twisting casino and went promptly to bed.
Today the only interesting thing I did that you would like to hear about was a visit with Bill Joyce. A swell fella, to say the least. The invitation promised absinthe, but unsurprisingly the squeamish W Hotel would have none of it. Instead there were mint juleps and beignets in abundance. I got to speak to Mr. Joyce about his New Yorker cover that never was (story on that to follow one of these days) and his work on various movies. I also learned who Bill Morris was. I asked another librarian and she confirmed what I suspected all along - I'm too young to understand half of what goes on around me. There are worse states to be in.
Oh. One other interesting thing happened today. I met a Mr. Angus Killick, Director of School and Library Marketing for Hyperion. I have decided to construct a small cardboard idol of Mr. Killick for my bedroom, at which I might freely worship at his feet. If you say the name "Angus" to many a librarian, they know immediately of whom you speak. I did not until today. Now I not only have a Hyperion contact (leaving Candlewick as one of the few major publishers not in my rolodex) but a future Hot Man to boot. It's been a productive day, to say the least.
By the way, I tried to post this yesterday. No go. So here goes try #2.