Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anderson's Children's Lit Breakfast

This morning, I had the good fortune of being able to attend the 7th Annual Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast with a group of wonderful friends. The snow did not deter us! (As Sharon Draper said... we're in Chicago. We don't play with snow.)

Luckily some of my friends got there extraordinarily early, so we got a great table at the front of the room. The lovely, bloggity Andrea Beaty was seated at our table and I'm mad at myself because by the time we got there and I figured out that's who she was, they had pretty much started the announcements and talks and I never really got a chance to chat with her. I reviewed her book Cicada Summer on my blog last summer. So Andrea, if you're reading this, A BELATED HELLO! And I'm sorry that I didn't get to chat with you more!!

The authors seated at the tables rotated after each talk, so we got a chance to meet and chat with several Illinois authors, all of whom were lovely.

We also heard from the four headlining authors. First up was Meg Cabot, who was predictably hilarious and sweet and everything you would expect Meg Cabot to be. She showed us pictures from her childhood and talked about writing. She had signed lots of stock, but I was pretty disappointed to realize that she had a flight to catch and would not be sticking around after the talks to sign books. I'm sure that Anderson's had no control over it, but it would have been nice to have a head's up (especially since Ms. Cabot was at Anderson's on Thursday signing things).

After Meg Cabot came Steven Kellogg, who was delightful and a really sweet guy. He drew a Pinkerton, read letters from students and teachers, and read part of his book Best Friends. I will have to do some research to find out if he has recorded any of his titles on tape because he was a great reader. And hey, why hasn't he won a Caldecott??? Seriously, if you get a chance to have him visit your school or library, take it.

Next up was Sharon Draper who made us rap. She talked about her upcoming series for young readers, Sassy. It sounded funny and I will definitely be checking it out. She also talked about her Ziggy series, which I have to admit I had never heard of before, but which sounded interesting.

And last, but certainly not least, was Peter Yarrow. And okay, I am of a generation which did not grow up listening to folk protest songs, so I may have been a little skeptical. But he had some great things to say about peace and respect and by the time he was finished singing Puff the Magic Dragon with everyone on stage, there was not a dry eye in the room. He was really promoting materials and music for Operation Respect, which promotes respect for all people and an end to bullying.

All in all, it was a really fun morning. We got a bag of freebies (mostly posters and teacher's guides to books) and there were door prizes. OH. And everyone got a free copy of Three Cups of Tea, which is awesome because I've been wanting read it since I read Amanda's review.

I would have to say, though, that having gone to this event and having gone to last year's YA Lit Conference, the YA Conference would be my event of choice. It felt like there were more attendees at the breakfast, while the YA Conference felt like a more intimate event where you could actually meet the headlining authors, ask questions, and attend panel discussions. At the YA Conference I bought tons of books and got them all signed. I didn't buy anything or get anything signed at the Breakfast. They had lots of signed stock, but it seemed like they were discouraging personal signing and Meg Cabot had already left by the time anyone got a chance to have anything signed.

Also disappointing was the fact that on Feb. 1 Anderson's sent out an email saying that Richard Peck, Ann M. Martin, and Kevin Henkes would be at the breakfast. Which they were not. Maybe it was due to the weather? But that was a let-down.

That said, this was my first time attending both events and I'm sure that each year is different depending on which authors are attending and that sort of thing. I'm still glad I went because it was a fun, book-centric morning with my librarian pals, but I probably wouldn't attend the breakfast again unless it was authors that I really, truly could not live without seeing.